Simply put, archival paper is specially designed to last longer than your traditional paper. It doesn’t mean it is entirely indestructible or will last forever, but when stored in the right conditions, archival paper can potentially last for over 100 years.
Archival quality paper is made using 100% acid-free material and this helps it resist deterioration over time and maintain original colour and texture.
For the majority of us we maybe don’t need to print on something that will last 100 years, but maybe you do want something that will at least last your lifetime. Archival paper is a great way to increase the longevity of your prints.
What makes an Archival Paper?
For starters, archival paper must be acid-free. If the paper contains acids then it will react with various environmental factors such as humidity, sunlight, and damp to hasten the deterioration of the paper.
In order to ensure an acid-free paper the manufacturer must use a neutral alkaline material. The ideal material in simple terms is 100% cotton fibre.
True archival quality paper is therefore typically made of pure cotton pulp rather than wood pulp.
Does PrintIT stock Archival Paper?
Yes, we have a range of archival paper available either directly in-stock or orderable from our suppliers as and when customers may require.
As an example, one of our most popular fine art papers is a lightly textured 100% cotton rag paper.
We do also have clients who like to print on recognised brand papers such as Hahnemühle for which we also have readily accessible stock locally.
Is Archival Paper worth the extra cost?
It really depends on the situation. Here is a few different scenarios that you may fall into.
You are the artist or distributor of prints to end customers
In this situation you may want to entice clients by highlighting the archival quality of the paper as an added benefit to buying from you. It may allow you to charge a bit of a premium on the premise of producing your end product on a much higher quality paper.
You may also want to have additional confidence that the prints you sold have the longevity to outlive the client [sorry if that sounds a touch dark] and reduce potential headaches in the future.
You are printing something that doesn’t need to last more than 5-10 years
Many of us are just looking to print pictures to decorate a room or to enjoy the latest family memories. We don’t necessarily need something that is going to last 40+ years as you may redecorate many times over.
In situations like this you may want to save the cost of the archival paper and just go with a good quality non-archival paper. It will still last for a considerable number of years.
Also consider situations where you may have access to the digital files you printed from originally. If ever you do have issues with the print, you could always re-print.
You want to print something that will last considerably more than 10 years
It’s probably worth spending a little extra and getting the archival quality paper from the start.