Choosing the Perfect Archival Matte Paper for Your Prints


Archival matte paper is an excellent choice for inkjet art printing, providing a timeless quality to your prints. While commonly used for reproducing watercolor paintings, pastels, and soft illustrations, these papers are versatile enough for VIP event invitations, gallery announcements, or notecards. As you search for the right paper, here are some important points to consider:

The Meaning of “Archival”

No Standard Definition

The term “archival” suggests longevity, but there is no universal definition for how long an archival document should last. Various factors influence permanence, including the manufacturing process, types of inks used, and storage/display conditions.

Different Standards

Not all inkjet art papers meet the same level of archivability. Some are designed to resemble artist papers, suitable for temporary use. Conversely, others adhere to international permanence and durability standards, such as ISO Standard 11108. These acid-free archival papers have balanced pH levels and are tear-resistant, making them ideal for long-term use.

Credible Brands

Brands like Moab by Legion, Hahnemuhle, Museo, and Innova have developed archival matte papers with input from art market professionals, museums, and collectors. Their expertise ensures that these inkjet art papers meet the highest quality standards and are perfect for limited-edition prints, gift prints, and art books.

Considering Surface Texture

The surface texture of archival matte papers plays a significant role. These papers mimic traditional art papers used for watercolors, drawings, and etchings, making them ideal for reproducing original artwork. However, highly textured papers may not be ideal for printing fine text or lines. If you use digital painting programs to mimic paintings, experimenting with textured print surfaces can yield interesting results.

Choosing the Right Paper for Photographs

For reproducing photographs on archival paper with a high-quality fibrous feel, consider photo-art papers or baryta papers. These papers, made with acid-free cotton or alpha-cellulose bases, have a smooth white layer that brings out the finest details and tonal gradations in black-and-white and color photography.

Avoiding Chemicals That Impact Aging

To ensure the longevity of your prints, choose archival matte papers free from lignins, acids, or optical brightening additives (OBAs). Lignins, present in plant fiber cell walls, can cause yellowing over time. Acids in the paper can migrate through it, weakening the bond with the inkjet-receptive coating. Optical brightening additives, though enhancing initial vibrancy, may fade with time, resulting in subdued colors.

Thickness and Printer Compatibility

When selecting archival matte papers, consider the thickness that suits your printer and application. Thicker papers, ranging from 12 mil to 26 mil, are popular for large reproductions. However, ensure that your printer can handle the chosen thickness. Older models, designed for CAD/technical printing, may have limitations. If using rolls of thick art papers, consider a method of “de-curling” the prints before framing.

Factors Affecting Print Longevity

Dye Inks

Archival performance may be compromised when using older-model printers with aqueous dye inks. Dye inks can bleed or fade quickly, especially if prints are exposed to improper temperature and humidity levels. However, monochrome drawings made with pigment black inks on archival matte paper can last for generations under the right storage conditions.

High-Quality Color Pigment Inks

When printed with high-quality color pigment inks from reputable brands like Epson, Canon, or HP, archival matte papers can produce prints that last over 100 years if stored or framed properly. Wilhelm Imaging Research provides independent research on ink and paper combinations, offering valuable insights for longevity.

Protecting Prints on Matte Art Papers

Consider ordering a protective spray to safeguard your prints on matte art papers. Pigment ink prints are susceptible to abrasion, while humidity and pollutants can damage dye inks. Applying an aerosol spray lacquer specially designed for fine-art prints creates a protective film that fixes ink colors without altering the paper’s structure. This coating shields prints from abrasion, scratches, water damage, and UV-light.

Try Before You Buy

If you’re unsure which archival matte paper is best for your prints, consider purchasing sample packs. Brands like Hahnemuhle offer sample packs that allow you to test your prints on various smooth or textured art papers. Exploring these options with your own images helps you choose the most suitable style for your creative vision.

Remember, when it comes to selecting the perfect archival matte paper for your inkjet art prints, Quill And Fox offers a wide range of options to meet your needs. Visit Quill And Fox to find the ideal paper for your masterpiece!