FAQ Answer

Your 400 & 500 Series Bristol papers are measured in plies - What are the pound weights?

The weight of our 500 Series Bristol paper is measured in plies. We carry 2-ply, 3-ply and 4-ply weights in both a smooth and vellum surface.

We often get asked what the equivalent pound and g/mweights are. First, we'll give a little background on ply weights:

Bristol paper typically refers to drawing paper that has been pasted together to form a multi-ply board. It derives its name from the early days of European papermaking when ills would send their finest paper to Bristol, England for pasting. Forming multi-plied drawing boards provides a stiff, strong surface to work on without the need for mounting.

A 2-ply Bristol paper refers to two sheets of drawing paper that have been pasted together. A 3-ply refers to 3 sheets pasted together, and a 4-ply refers to 4 sheets pasted together. The more plies, the thicker the board will be. 

Our 500 Series Bristol paper is made from our 100% cotton 500 Series Drawing paper which has a weight of 106lb. (125gsm). Once the drawing paper is pasted together to form bristol sheets, we can determine approximate weights by doubling, tripling or quadrupling the weight of the drawing sheet depending on how many plies are pasted. These weights are approximate because there is glue used in the pasting process that will add a small amount of weight to the overall board.

  • 500 Series Bristol 2-ply ≈ 215 lb. (260 g/m2)
  • 500 Series Bristol 3-ply ≈ 325 lb. (390 g/m2)
  • 500 Series Bristol 4-ply ≈ 430 lb. (520 g/m2)

In addition to paper weight, artists often ask what the difference is between the Bristol Vellum surface and the Bristol Plate (smooth) surface.

Vellum: Also called regular, medium or kid finish has a tooth or roughness, making it excellent for use with dry media including pencil, colored pencil, medium to hard charcoal, pastel and oil pastel. 

Plate: A unique, uniformly smooth finish created on the surface of the sheet through a special process. Sheets of paper are interleaved with highly polished metal plates to make a stack or "book". The book is then pressed repeatedly between steel rollers under great pressure, imparting the smoothness of the metal plates to the paper's surface. The surface is ideal for pen and ink, marker, mechanical layouts and air-brushing. 

All of our 500 Series Bristol papers are 100% cotton, providing one of the strongest surfaces for repeated erasure and material reworking. 

Click here to learn more about our 500 Series Bristol paper. 

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