I'm looking for a suitable material to print photos and send them as post cards. Is there a special type of paper that could be used to that end?

Most photo paper is flimsy, and while it's great for photos it does not work well for postcards.

Ballpark figure of desired characteristics:

  1. Great for printing photos
  2. Great for serving as a post-card
  3. Can be used in an inkjet printer
  4. Not too expensive, but I'm happy to see all suggestions
  • I wan't to tag this with photo-paper but it did not let me create the tag. – Mohamad Oct 8 '11 at 15:30
  • 2
    I think paper covers photo-paper in the context of the site. – mattdm Oct 8 '11 at 15:49

I would look at getting them printed at a short-run print/copy specialist such as Prontaprint or Mail Boxes Etc. The print quality will be superior, the card will be just like a commercial postcard, and the cost won't be a great deal more than having to buy in the card and ink yourself.

  • I'll have to do some research as I'm in Brazil. I'm not sure what vendors we have here that provide the same level of service, but there are bound to be some. – Mohamad Oct 8 '11 at 18:54

If you're looking to print your own, I can recommend Red River Paper which has papers specifically designed for post cards. They're a company specializing in photo paper, and their post card paper meets postal specs (at least here in the US).


You could give some of the luster papers from MOAB paper a try. I would specifically recommend their Lasal Photo Luster paper. It has a nice gloss on one side, and matte on the other. The gloss side is really the only side that is intended to be printed on, however if you print any backing on the back side first with a light ink, let that dry, then print photos on the luster side, you should be able to get some nice postcards. I've only used larger formats 8x10 and above....however you could try looking for a pack of 5x7's. The paper is fairly heavy weight and pretty sturdy (much more so than most luster papers)...however it is not quite rigid and cardlike as a normal postcard would be. Another option might be MOAB's Colorado Gloss...its about the same weight, however it has a warmer tone.

  • Thanks for the recommendation. What if I wanted a commercial like post card? Is there a DIY for this? I realize I'm stepping out of the realm of photography, but I want to explore all my options. Are there DIY solutions, or do I have to go commercial? – Mohamad Oct 8 '11 at 18:34
  • If you want to create a postcard exactly like you would find in a store, you will probably have to go with a commercial printer. You might be able to find some cardstock that is luster or gloss on one side...but it probably won't be the greatest quality. You can sometimes find that kind of stuff in cheaper packages of specialty printer paper. – jrista Oct 8 '11 at 19:06

An alternative suggestion: Look at the Canon Selphy line of printers. They print on postcard size paper that is sturdy like a postcard. In addition, they also apply a coating that creates a waterproof card, suitable for actually mailing.

You can find these printers for $50, and supplies are about $12 for 36 prints, so about $0.30 each. (cheaper if you purchase the 100 sheet packs). Get the printers that are dye sub, not inkjet.

I have one and love it, as it is perfect for snapshots for Grandma, and simple for everyone in the family to use. Its tons cheaper than the ink on my photo printer, and much less fussy.

  • Thanks for the recommendation. It's helpful, 15 months on! – Mohamad Apr 1 '13 at 14:08

If the printer is just for home use, then it is expected that print outs would look blurry. If you really want a high-quality, there are a lot of printers out there dedicated for postcards printing. Regarding about the photo paper, look for printer paper that is 150 lbs or better and is made from 100% cotton. Those should be high quality and hard enough to do what you want to do.

  • 2
    I FULLY Disagree with that first part. Home photo printers have a FAR superior DPI to commercial printers, which generally run at only 300-600 DPI. Home photo printers such as (most) EPSON's will print ultra sharp, over 5000 DPI, and the ultra-chrome inks give a far greater available colour gamut than the standard 4 colour commercial process. – Digital Lightcraft Jul 31 '12 at 21:22
  • @DarkcatStudios: SOME Epson printers support over 5000dpi, however that is only on one direction, and not for most epson printers...they tend to top out at 2880x1440dpi most of the time. DPI is generally rated at the lower of the two, which is 1440dpi on Epsons, and 2400dpi on Canons. Other home printer brands usually offer at least 1200dpi for ink jets, some 2400dpi. I DO agree though, most printers (ink jets) for home offer very good resolution and high quality inks, both dye and pigments. Canon and Epson both reign supreme for photo printers, with long-life, wide gamut inks. – jrista Aug 2 '12 at 15:48
  • @Chad: Photo paper quality is a very subjective matter. Simply stating that 150lbs made from 100% cotton (which would be a mid-weight photorag paper in fine-art terms) is insufficient explanation to explain why its a good fit. Photorag papers are generally matte finish, where as most post cards have a slight gloss at the very least. Natural-fiber papers with a smooth, luster finish do exist (I recommended Lasal Photo Luster in my own answer, which is both a natural fiber paper that has a nice natural, smooth, slightly glossy finish.) When answering, make sure you explain your recommendations. – jrista Aug 2 '12 at 15:52
  • I think Chad meant that a cheap "home" printer, _as opposed to a nice photo printer, whether in the home or elsewhere — is expected to be poor. Not home vs. print service. Chad, can you clarify? If you edit your post, people can reverse their downvotes. – mattdm Aug 3 '12 at 11:56

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