Share this article:
This article may include affiliate links. When you buy through those links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
Today I would like to talk a little about cardstock printing, which seems to be getting more and more popular lately and is a great way for any artist or crafter to expand their palette, stretch their creativity and produce really beautiful, premium quality pieces.
Cardstock is paper which is thicker and heavier than normal paper, and has about a gazillion uses for artists, crafters, DIYers and any other creative person, and you can make really lovely and useful pieces by printing onto cardstock paper.
The only problem is that most printers out there are not designed to print on this heavier cardstock paper. Try to print cardstock on a normal printer and you will, best case, have lots of frustrating printer jams and messy ink smears, and worse case you will wear out your printer rollers and other parts very quickly, and sooner or later the printer will stop feeding any kind of paper, break down or fail in other ways.
So, if you want or need to print on cardstock paper, or if you simply want to have the option, I’ve put together this buyer’s guide for the best cardstock printers on the market today – printers at different price points which will offer beautiful printing on normal paper or heavier stock, and which are really high quality units in every way.
If you would like to skip ahead to my recommendations, please just click here: The Best Cardstock Printers in 2021, but first I would like to talk a bit about cardstock and cardstock printers.
The first thing to make clear is that a printer for cardstock is really nothing more than a regular printer, but one that has been designed to handle not only normal paper but thicker, heavier paper – the weight and thickness of which would jam and break other printers.
So if you are buying a “cardstock printer” you are really just buying a printer, and want to get one that has everything an artist or crafter would want in their everyday printer. And you also want to make sure it can handle the thicker cardstock printer.
Cardstock paper is simply heavier (and thicker) paper, like that used for business cards, invitations and even packaging. In arts and crafts, a very common weight of cardstock paper is around 110-120 GSM (grams per square meter), but that actually may be a bit thinner than what you are thinking about, and it is certainly nice to have the capability to run much heavier card stock through. And so every printer I am recommending has a maximum paper weight of up to 300 GSM – a good, heavy cardstock and great for really incredible looking art prints and so many different craft projects!
Please be careful, though! I noticed again and again that so many printers in other articles, buyer’s guides and Amazon product listings are claimed to have full cardstock capacity, up to 300 GSM and beyond, but definitely do not. Indeed, most printers you find on the market today will do a great job feeding and printing onto lighter text stock paper, but if you try to use paper much heavier than 80 GSM or so you can, again, experiences lots of little headaches like ink smears and paper jams, and even much bigger headaches like a broken printer!
That’s why, rather than just listing out every single printer that comes up in an Amazon search like “cardstock printer,” I am only including those printers I myself have used or can verify really do handle nice, heavy card paper.
I probably don’t need to tell you all of the fabulous things you can do with a printer that can print on card stock – after all, if you are artistic and creative, and you’re here anyway, you probably already have tons of ideas, or at least one or a few great ones – but maybe we can talk more generally about why it is a good idea to get a good cardstock printer.
You should get the best printer for printing onto cardstock for any of the following reasons:
Ok, I can’t resist! Even though I just said that you probably already have a ton of ideas about why you want a cardstock printer, and what you’ll use it for, I can’t help but putting down a few creative ideas and projects which you can do if you have a good printer for printing onto heavier paper:
Ok, I really need to stop now or we’ll never get to the printers themselves!
The best cardstock printers on the market today are the best for all of the normal reasons – they are, again, really just normal printers, and you should purchase one not only because it is specially designed and built to handle heaver card paper, but also for print quality, colors, size, speed and all of the regular criteria.
The most important factors in selecting the best printer for cardstock include:
Another way to look at this, and to select the best printer for printing onto cardstock, is to simply find the best printer overall for an artist or crafter – print quality, size, value, reliability – and just make sure it can accept heavier paper without jamming, gunking up or breaking. Unfortunately this can be frustrating, and you can fall in love with a lot of printers only to find they won’t really work with cardstock.
You can also have a lot of trouble determining if any printer actually will handle cards or thicker, heavier material, since specifications like “maximum paper weight” are often kind of hidden, or not even published, and many recommendations listed in buyer’s guides are not, actually, cardstock printers, and will probably have all of the problems we’re trying to avoid.
So I have done all that work for you, with an eye for what would be the best printer for any creative person, and what printers are best for cardstock, and have put together a small list of the very best. Not only will each of these printers work great for any craft project, and print even the highest quality artwork beautifully, they will do so on even heavier card paper stock with no problems.
They are all also really great printers in terms of construction quality, reliability, overall design and usability and – one of my favorite words! – value.
|Editor's rating||Image||Cardstock Printer||Price|
Best Cheap Printer for Cardstock
Best Value Printer for Cardstock
Best Medium-Priced Printer for Cardstock
Best Value Printer for Cardstock
Best Printer for Cardstock
Best Commercial Printer for Cardstock Printing
The least expensive printer on my list of best printers for card stock, the Brother MFC-JD497DW is also one of the best values on the market today, and a remarkably inexpensive way to get a high quality art printer that also serves as a scanner (so great for artists and crafters) and copier.
The Brother JD497DW is remarkably easy to use, with its great LCD user interface panel, has wireless and cloud connectivity in addition to normal USB, and has high resolution and remarkable color quality for a printer at this price – heck, at this price pretty much any level of performance would be impressive enough, but the Brother all-in-one is really amazing.
When you throw in the ability to print on heavy card stock, up to 300 GSM, the Brother MFC-J497DW Multifunction Inkjet printer for cardstock is irresistible, and is my recommendation for the best cheap printer for printing onto heavy card stock paper.
Brother MFC-J497DW Specifications
The next recommendation in our list of best cardstock printers in 2021 is not that much more expensive than the Brother MFC-J497DW above, and still represents one of the best values on the market today.
An all-in-one printer, copier and scanner like the Brother, the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015 is great for so many tasks any artist or crafter might want to do, including both creative and administrative work, but is faster and a bit more substantial feeling, and while its printed specs are not necessarily better it does, for my money, offer somewhat better image quality, including sharpness and color saturation.
With the ability to print onto card stock up to 300 GSM, the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015 really becomes a complete printer for an artist, crafter or DIYer on a budget, and gets my nod as the best printer for cardstock for a reasonable price on the market today.
HP OfficeJet Pro 9015 Specifications
The Canon TS8320 is not as well known as other Canon printers, like their popular Pixma series, but is somewhat of a legend among people who have one – customers regularly rave about its superb print quality for the money, the solid quality and reliability and its extremely easy and intuitive user interface.
For working commercial artists and photographers the Canon TS8320 is an ideal choice in a mid-priced printer, with not only all-in-one functionality – printer, fax, copier and scanner – but an advanced 6 color ink system which prints colors with great accuracy, detail and range, not to mention stunning resolution. And the ability to print on heavy paper – cardstock up to 300 GSM – gives professionals, or any artist, crafter or amateur photo-bug, lots more wonderful opportunities for beautiful prints and creative projects.
A brilliant printer for the money, the Canon TS8320 all-in-one wireless printer for cardstock is my first choice for best medium-priced printer for card stock in 2021.
Canon TS8320 Specifications
Another highly versatile all-in-one printer, the HP Smart-Tank Plus 651 is the second HP to make our list of best cardstock printers, and is a significant upgrade from its little brother or any of the other less expensive printers here.
The Smart-Tank Plus 651 is really designed for easy, intuitive operation in every way, with its overall design and layout, its clever and clear operation panel, its easy and clean ink refill system and its voice actuated printing. And with the quality of the HP inks (BTW, it includes a 2 year supply of both color and black and white ink) and high resolution printing, photographs, artwork and any other art or craft printing comes out looking absolutely beautiful.
This printer also prints very well onto thicker, heavier paper, and customers report again and again that the print quality on cardstock is also superb – better, even, than on plain paper! An easy recommendation, then, the HP Smart-Tank Plus 651 all-in-one printer is a great choice for any artist or crafter, offering real versatility, ease of use, wonderful print quality and the legendary HP quality and reliability.
HP Smart-Tank Plus 651 Specifications
The Epson Expression HD XP-15000 is one of my favorite printers, with absolutely beautiful printing, a smart and intuitive design and excellent overall quality and reliability. It is not an all-in-one, like the recs above, but a simple, elegant and superb unit focused on printing and nothing else.
The HD XP-1500 is the first unit in our buyer’s guide of best cardstock printers that can handle not only thicker paper but larger paper sizes as well – up to 13 inches width – and can even make borderless prints up to 13 x 19. The superior Claria six ink system ensures excellent color accuracy, saturation and range, and the colors really are beautiful and really long lasting. The XP-1500 even prints black and white with remarkable energy, life and range. And resolution is incredible – a full 5760 x 1440 DPI – for noticeably sharper prints and amazing fine detail.
Yes, we are getting into a higher price point with this printer, but I have to say that the Epson Expression HD XP-15000 may be the best value on our list, and while the lower priced printers here are amazing performers, and make great prints on cardstock or any other paper, the XP-15000 is clearly in a different league, and gets a strong recommendation for any commercial or fine artist, photographer or serious crafter who wants the very best for what is still, without question, a very reasonable price.
Epson Expression HD XP 15000 Specifications
A real favorite among professional commercial artists and photographers, the Canon Pixma Pro-100 has substantially higher resolution than almost any other printer at – or even higher than – its price point, and has that famous Canon color quality as well. This is the most expensive inkjet printer on the list, but with this superb level of performance and overall quality, and coming in at still well below a thousand dollars, it can be considered an outright bargain.
With an eight color ink system, the Pixma Pro-100 prints colors not only with perfect fidelity, but amazing range, subtlety and light, and this printer will do a beautiful job with details, shadows and even the tiniest shifts in any value. Superb mechanical components and construction couple with the Pixma’s super-high resolution to complete the picture (so to speak) with stunning sharpness – nothing in this range or, again, even at much higher prices, can possibly provide this kind of impact.
Sorry, I got so excited about this wonderful printer that I almost forgot that it also does a great job with thicker paper as well, including heavy cardstock up to 300 GSM. You can certainly spend more on a professional level inkjet art printer, but I don’t think you will get significantly better printing or overall quality, on thick cardstock or any paper – and believe me, you could do much worse!
My choice, then, for best printer for cardstock overall, the Canon Pixma Pro-100 high resolution inkjet printer is a stellar performer, and will serve any artist or crafter, on any level, perfectly – highest recommendation!
Canon Pixma Pro-100 Specifications
All of the other entries on this review list of best printers for printing onto cardstock paper are inkjet, and range in price from under 200 dollars to around 800 dollars, and they are all great choices for even the most discerning amateur or working professional artist or crafter. But with the Xerox VersaLink C9000DT color laser printer for cardstock, we reach a whole new level.
The Xerox C9000DT is a full commercial printer, fully able to handle large quantities of regular paper or heavy cardstock paper (up to 350 GSM!) quickly and reliably over the long term. And while printed specifications don’t seem to really set the VersaLink apart, it is immediately clear when looking at its output that the color accuracy and intensity, the resolution and fine detail are all extraordinary –probably thanks to the exceptionally high level of material quality and very low tolerances in engineering and construction. Again, on a whole new level.
If you are producing professional arts and crafts products at a fairly high volume, or plan to in the near future, or if you simply want the very best quality and reliability you can get, the Xerox VersaLink C9000DT color laser printer for cardstock is an obvious choice, and is actually quite affordable for a true commercial printer. My strongest recommendation, then, for the best commercial printer for cardstock printing.
Xerox VersaLink C9000DT Specifications
Improve your art skills and learn how to make money as an artist. Check out my courses about Making Money as an Artist, Color & Light, Color Palettes, Perspective & Composition, Instagram and more!
If you are printing onto cardstock, or even heavier than normal paper, I would strongly advise you to get a printer you are certain will work with heavier, thicker stock. Otherwise you risk not only frustrating paper jams and messes, but actual damage to the printer’s rollers, print heads and other parts.
At the same time, I think you can clearly see that any of the choices I’ve made for my buyer’s guide for best printers for heavier paper are not just that – they are, for the money, incredible printers for artwork, photographs, graphics and illustrations, detailed patterns and designs and any other printing. If you were looking for the best printer for arts and crafts overall, and hadn’t even considered printing on cardstock, I would still recommend any one of these printers enthusiastically, and their suitability for heavy cardstock is just icing on the cake!
Thanks so much for reading my latest article – The Best Cardstock Printers in 2021: An In-Depth Review and Buyer’s Guide – and I encourage you to visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles and lots of other resources.