How Thick Should My Business Card Be

In 2023, the definition of what a "thick" business card stock is has certainly changed from what the answer would have been 20 or even 10 years ago. It used to be that 16pt card stock was considered "thick", with 14pt card stock being average and 10-12pt stock being on the low end of budget business cards.

thick business cards with various paper types

While luxury business card printers like ourselves at Vermillion Silk built our brand off using thick 16pt paper stock for the past 10 years, we now see more and more of our customers ordering thicker card stock types from us, like 32pt cards, or even 40pt.

If you are going to order business cards nowadays, it simply doesn't make sense to spend money on cheap flimsy cards. In this digital age, there are fewer businesses using business cards than there used to be, so if you do go through the effort to create a business card for your brand, you want it to be something that is nice enough for your prospective customer to remember and keep.

What is the Point System, and How Does it Tell Me How Thick a Business Card is?

In the United States, we use the point system to measure the thickness of card stock types used in printing. One point is equal to 1/1000 of an inch. So for example, a 16pt card stock would measure at 0.016 inches thick. By comparison, a standard credit card is 30pt thick. To give you an idea of the flexibility of a card at that thickness, when comparing a premium 32pt card stock with a plastic credit card, the credit card will tend to bend a bit easier than the 32pt paper stock would (though this can depend on the exact choice of paper).

Keep in mind that the point thickness of a card is measured from the uncoated card stock only. Finishing options like our silk and suede coating, raised foil, and raised gloss add a bit of thickness beyond that. For example, you could consider that our suede coated cards on 16pt card stock would be more like 17-18pt after the coating is applied. That kind of difference generally won't be that noticeable as once you get to 16pt, the business card paper is going to feel pretty sturdy.

collection of paper types for choosing a thickness and paper stock for luxury business cards

While the difference between 14pt and 16pt paper is noticeable and tangible in how the card bends under your fingers, after 16pt it is easiest to feel the difference in thickness with increments of 8pt. For example, 24pt, 32pt, 40pt. If we handed you cards that were 14pt, 16pt, 24pt, 32pt, and 40pt, you would likely be able to identify each one without much inspection, whereas if we gave you 16pt, 18pt, and 20pt cards together, the differences would feel much more subtle.

What is the Best Thickness for Business Cards?

Now that you understand how thickness is measured, what is the best choice for your business card? In reality, the best thickness comes down to your preference. We'd recommend choosing business cards that are at least 16pt (unless there is some specialty paper you prefer that is slightly thinner at 14pt). 16pt is a safe choice, works with almost all finishing options, and won't feel too "in your face". A super thick 32pt card feels modern and substantial in your hand, however, some business owners might feel like it is too flashy or bold. A thicker card definitely makes a statement, and it works great with print options like foiled edges and painted edges.

At Vermillion Silk, we offer business card stock from 14pt all the way to 40pt (and beyond if you want to apply a duplex or triplex process to your cards). In fact, one of the most luxurious business card stocks we offer is Crane's Lettra, a 100% cotton paper stock at about 40pt that is an excellent choice with letterpress business cards.

painted edge and foiled edge business cards on thick paper

If you are going for a high-end and luxurious feel, and you want to make a lasting impression with your new business cards, get in touch with one of our print specialists today and we'll help you choose the perfect stock for your brand!

What About Paper Weight Measured in lbs?

If you see paper types measured in lbs or #, for example 100lb paper, or 100# paper, this refers to the actual weight of the paper, not necessarily the thickness. While a heavier paper type will often also be thicker, since this isn't a measure of thickness itself, generally a business card printer will list different stocks by pt value as this refers to the actual card thickness.

For example, one of the most luxurious papers we offer is Crane's Lettra, a 100% cotton paper that is 220lbs in weight and about 40pt in thickness. By comparison the paper in a typical high quality magazine might be 60lbs for the inner pages, and 100lbs for the cover. Most standard business cards at 16pt would be equal to about a 130lb cover stock.

As you can see here though, the numbers don't quite add up where 16pt cards might be 130lb paper, but more than double that thickness at 40pt might be 220lb paper.

If you are looking to get new business cards printed, and aren't exactly sure what you need, get in touch with us today and our print specialists can help you choose the perfect paper type for your business cards.

Choosing a Business Card Paper Weight Based on Design

There are a couple of cases where you might choose a thicker business card stock, simply because of the finishing options you plan to use for your design. For example, if you want letterpress business cards, these will typically work best with thicker papers that are at least 24pt, usually 32pt or even thicker. The reason for this is that letterpress cards look great because of the deep imprints in the printing process, and this is only possible to achieve on thicker cards.

Similarly, we mentioned above how painted or foiled edge business cards work well with thick cards because the edge painting or edge foiling will be more noticeable.

Business Card Papers for Embossing with Duplex

One other common reason to use a 32pt card is when you have embossing or debossing applied to your card. The effect of embossing or debossing isn't going to leave quite as deep of an impression as letterpress will, but unlike letterpress where you might be limited in how many colors you print on a card, embossing or debossing effects can be applied to a regular print process and mixed more easily with other effects.

debossed duplex business cards

The downside would be that on a single card, the impression of the emboss or deboss could be visible on the reverse side, so typically customers will request to have this process done on duplex cards which means two thinner cards would be glued together to form a thicker card. This way the emboss is done before the duplex process and the impression isn't visible on the reverse. Combining two 16pt cards with embossing would then result in a finished card thickness of 32pt.

embossed duplex business cards

Business Card Weight and Thickness Based on Paper Type

There are two approaches to paper on luxury business cards. One is taking a more standard art paper and applying a coating such as our signature silk and suede coatings to give the card a luxurious feel.

The second approach is to choose a paper itself that has a beautiful feel and appearance, such as a thick and textured cotton stock. These kinds of papers have uncoated finishes as the paper itself already has a high end feel.

At Vermillion Silk we offer a wide selection of high quality paper for our business cards. Our standard thickness is 16pt, but we offer many other stocks of different thicknesses, at 20pt, 24pt, 32pt, 40pt, and even beyond. While most business cards look great at 16pt, today 32pt is a popular option as well, especially if you prefer letterpress cards, foiled edges, duplex/triplex cards, or embossing.

Get in touch with our print specialists today and we'll be glad to print business cards that are the perfect choice for you.

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