Construction paper is a staple in art classrooms across the country. If you find yourself unsure of which type is the most useful for certain projects, or offers the right texture and colors, you’ll find insight here. Check out this basic information regarding choosing the right construction paper for an elementary art room or general classroom.
The Two Types of Construction Paper
Sulphite Construction Paper
There are two main types of construction paper. 100% sulphite construction paper is characterized by long, strong fibers that interlock, allowing for an even, smooth tone, a hard work surface and intense colors. It accepts dry mediums and even tempera paint is used successfully by many art teachers.
Sulphite construction paper also folds great, glues well, cuts nicely and is fade resistant. The Sax Colored Art Paper is especially nice. It’s considered a premium, 100% sulphite construction paper, made in Europe and featuring dynamic colors. It’s also lignin-free, creating a stronger paper.
Groundwood Construction Paper
“Groundwood” construction paper gets its name from using ground wood pulp in the manufacturing process. It cuts nicely and glues well, but does not share the fade resistance of a 100% sulphite paper, nor does it fold quite as easily.
Groundwood paper is usually less expensive and also works well with tempera paint and dry mediums. It’s great when used with chalk or charcoal, because the surface is rough enough to pick up a bit more of these mediums for greater intensity.
Standard Sizing & Weight for Construction Paper
I’m often asked how the pound weight of paper is determined and why a stack of groundwood has greater height than an equal pound weight of 100% sulphite.
Different types of paper have their own standard size. For example, drawing paper is usually 24”X 36”. When a ream (500 sheets) is weighed, that is the pound weight of that paper. Heavier drawing paper is most often considered a greater quality than lightweight; however, that is not the case with construction paper.
The lower quality, thicker groundwood is manufactured to create a rough surface and the thinner, 100% sulphite, a smooth surface. So, when reams are side by side and both are 76#, for example, the texture of the groundwood creates greater height than the smooth 100% sulphite of the same weight.
Is there Fadeless Construction Paper?
Another common question is “Which construction paper is fadeless?” The answer is none. Paper that has been dyed is rarely fadeless. However, 100% sulphite is fade resistant, lasting much longer than groundwood, when exposed to light. If you are in need of actual fadeless paper, it is available. The color has been inked onto one side and not dyed.
Hint: try using fadeless papers for the background of your bulletin boards. I’ve done it and was able to keep the paper up all year, because there were no shadows from previous artwork. It was a great time-saver.
By Carol Miller, Sax Art Consultant
If you are interested in an art workshop or professional development with Carol Miller or our other Sax Art Consultants, please contact us at SaxArts@schoolspecialty.com.
More Art 101 Blog Posts
For more tips, tricks, and basic technique refreshers — check out the other blogs in the Art 101 Series. We’ve covered paint, colored pencils, print making and much more.