A Complete List of Papers That Can Be Used for Embossing

There are a lot of different methods for embossing papers and depending on which type you use the choice of paper will change drastically as well. Not every embossing process works with every type of paper and not just any old paper can be used for embossing. So to make it easier for beginners and to give more experienced crafters a resource to refer back to, I decided to create an in-depth article with a list of papers, that can be used for embossing.

In short, the best kind of paper for embossing is cardstock. Every embossing method can be used on cardstock, so it is the safest choice. Textured paper, drawing paper, and cotton paper can be used for heat embossing and regular embossing. Thin printing paper and specially treated photo paper can´t be used for embossing.

If you want to know exactly what kind of papers you can and can´t use for embossing then you can refer to the table below to quickly check if the paper of your choosing can be used for embossing or not.

PaperDry EmbossingEmbossing With Die Cutting PlatesHeat Embossing
Regular Printer PaperNot recommendedNot recommendedYes
Illustration BoardYesYesYes
Bristol Boards / PadsYesYesYes
Drawing and Sketch PadsYes, but the results may varyYesYes
Charcoal Papers / PadsYesNot recommendedYes
Calligraphy PapersYesNot recommendedYes
CardstockYesYesYes
Drafting PaperNoNoYes
Newsprint PaperNoNoYes
Marker PaperNoNot recommendedYes
Acrylic PaperYesYesYes
Cotton Paper / Fine PaperNoYesYes
Inkjet Paper / FilmsNoNoYes

How to Identify if Your Paper can be Embossed or Not

If the paper, that you want to use is not on the list then simply ask yourself these three questions:

  • Is your paper very thin?
  • Does your paper tear easily when wet?
  • Is the paper laminated or sealed in any way?

If you answered all of these questions with yes, then Your paper is probably only good for heat embossing but should not be used for dry embossing or for embossing with die Cutting Plates.

If you only answered the first question with yes, then you can easily use your paper for all embossing methods, that I mentioned here.

If you answered all of the questions with no, then you can use the paper for every embossing method but you should be careful when trying to dry emboss your paper. Dry embossing doesn’t work if your paper is to thick. Some Illustrations boards, for example, are not really a good fit for dry embossing.

If you answered the second or third question with yes, then you should probably refrain from embossing your paper in any way except with heat embossing maybe.

The idea behind these simple questions is to identify if the paper can survive the embossing process of each method.

You can generally emboss pretty much any kind of paper with heat embossing. Even if the paper is too thin or even if the paper can´t take any water without ripping.

That is because heat embossing does not damage or deform the paper in any way. You simply glue the powder to the paper and then you heat it up to create a permanent bond and to melt the powder to achieve a nice effect.

So as long as the paper can take the heat of the heat gun (like most papers can) it can easily be embossed. By the way, if you want to use embossing powder but you don´t want to get an expensive heat gun, then read my article on melting embossing powder without a heat gun.

If the paper is too thin or if it can’t take any water or rips easily then you also won´t be able to dry or wet emboss it because the paper just won´t be able to take it.

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