To achieve the best print-at-home photos, you’ll need a good printer and ink, but also good photo paper. The sheets you use can make or break a print: Poor-quality papers can result in muddied images, darker colors, and lines that aren’t quite clean. In addition to quality, also consider the color of the sheets, which can come in a range of whites; the paper weight; and the finish, glossy or matte. Our picks below will help you find the right product to meet your personal preferences and needs and ease the photo-printing process.
1. HP Premium Plus Photo Paper
HP’s photo paper strikes the right balance between economy and quality. It costs less than 50 cents a print, is quick-drying, and has a good weight to it: It feels substantial but doesn’t easily jam. It also presents a clean white surface with a beautiful soft-gloss finish that isn’t quite reflective but carries a subtle sheen. Whether black-and-white or color, the results look sophisticated and vivid.
2. Printworks Matte Photo Paper
If you want to print double-sided photos, Printworks’ product is an affordable and reliable option. These sheets dry nearly immediately after they receive ink to hold sharp and beautifully saturated images. Both sides carry a smooth matte finish that you can print on. While these papers are not as heavy as HP’s, they aren’t flimsy either, and ink doesn’t bleed through to the other side.
3. Epson Metallic Photo Paper Glossy
Featuring a subtly pearly, resin-coated base, these papers from Epson give prints a special metallic finish. Because they cost about a dollar a sheet, you probably won’t use them for every print, but you probably wouldn’t want to, either. Unlike general-purpose papers, these are best used with certain subjects and colors, like black-and-white images or photos with a lot of contrast. The special gloss makes images look extra sharp, enhances details, and provides a professional, fresh-looking surface.
4. CanonInk Glossy Photo Paper
Canon’s paper is particularly well suited to those who want to print a lot of images and are willing to sacrifice a little quality for economy. These low-cost, true white sheets run about 30 cents a print and present a nice, not-too-shiny gloss. Image-wise, they capture ink well to show true colors and faithful resolution, and they dry quite fast for no-smear prints. But these are pretty lightweight papers, which doesn’t make for great display—though they are very easy to cut. Because they are so inexpensive, they are also a good option if your printer tends to be quite finicky.
5. Epson Premium Presentation Paper
This paper’s weight is similar to that of cardstock, making it an ideal choice for card-making, brochures, and certain prints. With a superfine-grained surface, it can handle heavy ink deposits to produce crisp lines and clear images with no bleed. Although not printable on both sides, it’s designed so you can display both sides, with the back presenting a smooth, satisfying finish with no logo. Note that the printing surface is not a bright white but a little on the warm side, which will appeal to some people and turn others away.