Well, that depends on the size of the poster and where you want it to be displayed. Plus, paper weight and paper quality play a huge role in how the ink will look when your poster is printed.

So, is there a “best” paperweight for your poster project? There is, but it depends on what you want to achieve with your poster. The following will get you on the right path.

What does paper weight mean?

In simple terms, it is the thickness of the paper. There is even an acronym, GSM, which stands for the paper’s weight in grams per square meter.

The heavier the paper, the thicker it will be. So, your home printer’s standard paper will have a lower gsm than what is used for a Birthday card. 

The gsm is basically a marker of quality; the higher the gsm, the better quality it will be, but the more a poster printer will charge you.

Here are some examples

  • Under 100 GSM = bog-standard office photocopying paper
  • 120 GSM = better quality letterheaded paper that a solicitor would use. 
  • 170 GSM = paper you might find in a good quality hardback recipe book
  • 200 GSM = might be found as a cover of a brochure with lighter paper inside. 
  • 300 GSM = this is the boundary at where things progress into card. 
  • Above 400 GSM = a good quality business card from a high-flying CEO.
Poster Printer

What paper weight is best for posters?

You usually find that most posters sit between the 130 gsm and 200 gsm range. 

They still act like paper; for example, they can easily be rolled up, but they are higher quality and more substantial than office paper. 

However, there are numerous things to consider. Like…

Budget

If money is no object, then you can simply get the highest quality weight that is classed as paper (glossy or matte depending) and not card.

But if you are on a tight budget, you could probably go as low as 135 gsm, as long as you use a glossy print. The glossy print will help hide the lack of weight and quality. 

Design

The gsm is a quality guide, so what the poster is meant to look like is important. If you just have a black and white poster advertising your yard sale, then you can get away with pretty basic paper. 

If the design is a futuristic sci-fi blockbuster poster, you will need a paper that can handle bright and vibrant colors with a high detail level. You are probably looking at around the 190 gsm and higher mark.

Wild Post Picture

Location

This will also have a great effect on the paper you should use. For example, if they are intended for lampposts, they will need to be light to wrap around the lamppost easily. 

Or if they are for poster boards, you can go quite light also; at maybe around 115 gsm… but make sure the paper has blue backing as this stops the old posters showing through. 

If you are going guerrilla marketing style and want to “wheatpaste” your posters throughout the city, you will want to use lightweight paper.

Sizing

I would say that the general rule of thumb is the larger the poster, the greater the gsm will have to be, up until a point because a billboard poster is actually so big the gsm weight isn’t that high. 

The same design on a small poster of 8.5”x 11” could be ok with around 150 gsm, but if you were to put the same design on a large poster of say 24”x 36”, you might need something around the 200 gsm mark.

Time

If the poster is just meant to last a week on an office bulletin board, then you can probably go as light as you want, as it is disposable and is not selling or marketing something the general public will see. 

If you want the posters to remain outside for several weeks, you will likely need at least 170 gsm PVC poster paper. This will make the poster a bit more robust and will give it a bit of waterproofing. 

You must consider timing, because if you have a client that wants their posters advertised for a month, but you print it on paper that only lasts 2 weeks. Then you are likely to have an unhappy customer, and you may be liable for reprinting costs. 

Archival and Collectability

Let’s say you want to create some amazing fan art movie posters and sell them to your circle of collectors. If this is the case, you will want to use high quality and heavier paper with archival ink.

This way the people that buy your works of art can feel confident their investment won’t deteriorate over time and turn into a faded napkin.

You will want to check with the printer you are using to produce your posters and make sure the paper and ink are archival. They will know what’s best, and it’s usually worth it to spend more on these types of situations.

We have used the Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper in the past for our artistic poster projects. It has a 260 gsm.

Mailing Posters

You may need to transport your posters to your client or whoever bought them from you. If this is the case, you will want to read this article:

Type

Poster Design

While on the topic of poster design, you may want to increase your skillset and become a professional movie poster designer. If that is the case, you will want to sign up for our online classes dedicated to movie poster design and taught by actual movie poster designers and art directors.

These classes are currently in production, but we suggest you sign up for our newsletter so that you will be notified when they become available.

If you are looking to increase your knowledge right now then we suggest these articles to get started.

Conclusion 

What paper weight to use for posters can get pretty complicated, pretty quick. 

So, if you are unsure then always consult the advice of a professional. Usually, the printer you are going to use, just remember it is their interest to sell you the highest gsm and most expensive paper they can.

Therefore, be strict with the budget you have in mind and try to get the best deal possible at that price point.