Hot Market Trends

Textured Stocks

Neenah’s Classic® Textures, introduced in 2017, includes two finishes you’re likely already familiar with, Laid and Columns, and introduced Stipple, Techweave, and Woodgrain.

“Sometimes designers like a new color or texture, but don’t see how to implement it into their design work. That’s not the case with these new textures,” said Kim Shannon, Commercial Sales Manager with Neenah Paper Inc., “These new sheets have been very well received – and used!”

This may be, in part, due to the overwhelming trend by marketers to use texture in printed work. One of the ways that brand designers reach a variety of consumers’ senses is by alluring consumers with textures that enhance the effects of a printed piece.

Brand Impressions

Whether you’re selling print to a large firm with a complete marketing department, or a single owner, main-street shop, ask the pointed question: “What do you want your brand to feel like?” Supply samples and suggestions, then ask, “Does this feel like stability? Does this feel reliable?” and maybe even point out the hard questions, “Does this feel like a throwaway? Does this feel cheap?”

Remember you have only seconds to make an impression on the user. Even then, the more senses impacted, the longer the impression will last.

Some sheets have an obvious visual textural effect, providing the anticipation of texture even before our fingertips meet the sheet. For certain markets this high end sensory effect is especially appealing with their business card, letterhead, pocket folder, and also label printing

John Shanley, President of Labels West says that linen and felt are especially popular textured sheets, especially in a retail products that rely on shelf appeal. He specified that,

“The wine/spirts market as well as the specialty food and personal care markets are particularly good candidates for textured stocks.”

Jessica Peterson, Marketing Manager at AmeriCAL, INC. pointed out,

“The specialty gift markets like candles, candies, chocolates, gift box labeling, stationery packaging, health and beauty are inclined to make a tactile impression with labels. And when pursing these markets, don’t forget the impact you can make in the organic, natural, “homemade,” and nutraceutical markets by introducing textured stocks to heighten the impact of the design and message.”


This is true for presentation and packaging projects, as well. The Classic® Woodgrain, for example, relates an organic message before any image is even printed upon it. Shannon noted, “We’ve been doing a lot of work lately in retail packaging, particularly in cosmetics and electronics. Our new Woodgrain and Techweave are on opposite ends of the spectrum (from earthy and natural to high tech) but both have been really well received.”

Pocket Folders

When it comes to textured sheets in pocket folders, the most popular uncoated textured sheets we shipped in 2017 were the 100# linen cover sheets. This is because the bulk of the sheet adds to the impact and durability of the folder; it’s a very classy choice. Another texture gaining a renewed popularity because of its unique look without a steep price tag, is the Mohawk Carnival Hopsack 90# cover. It’s a 30% recycled option that is both sturdy and interesting to touch, coming in a variety of colors that do well printed, foiled, or embossed. The vertical markets most inclined to either of these sheets have proven to be accountants, attorneys, and real estate.

I would be remiss to not acknowledge one more texture: smooth. Just as a distinct, embossed finish can enhance a brand image, so can the impact of smooth. It all comes down to what are you trying to say? If the image is sharp and clean, a bright white, smooth or even super smooth stock, leaves a specific impression when partnered with the right images.

Brand Identity is more than a logo, the stock options you share with your client should reflect the impact of their design. Just as white is more a reflection of light than an absence of color, so smooth should be considered not the absence of texture but another medium for creating an impactful message.


On that note, as you know the color of a stock dictates certain advantages and limitations for imprinting, so does the sheet’s texture. Peterson reminds distributors of the importance of creating then choosing the right artwork for the right stock. She notes, “Some textured stocks can “drain” or “drown” out vibrant colored artwork.”

When printing collateral material in your own shop, make sure the processes you’re using match color to the outsourced pieces, which will vary by technologies utilized. Heavy solids need to be reviewed on some textured sheets, whereas others, although heavily textured, will hold ink evenly. For example, we have had lovely laydown on both the Techweave and the Hopsack. However, a laid finish will almost always show cracking if attempting an image over a score-line. Another way to implement a variety of textures that appeal to the eye and the touch is by the process implemented on the piece, maybe a foil and/or emboss. Using one or multiple processes can have a strong impact on the message.

Also, when it comes to labels, it’s important to evaluate “The circumference of the object or surface that the label is going to be applied and how it is going to be applied. Some textured stocks can be a little more rigid and not want to stay applied to curved ore textured surfaces,” said Peterson, adding, “Allowing the material to do the talking can be very powerful for some of these products.”

Whether it’s a business card, a label, pocket folder, or packaging, be sure to do stock testing and/or talk to the wholesale provider about their experience with a stock. Most manufacturers are ready to provide samples and their expertise, and want to work with you to produce the best possible project.

Originally published in NPOA News and Updates Feb. 2018 (c) Mardra Sikora

Check it out! – Short video featuring Sam and Jamie and the headline folder!