Paperboard and cardboard – the differences. Find out what the differences are between these raw materials.

Paperboard and cardboard are definitely one of the essential raw materials used in most printing companies. Each and every one of us encounters these materials on a daily basis – in many cases even completely unconsciously. Every paper package has paperboard or cardboard – not to mention other applications like jigsaw puzzles 😊. To limit misunderstandings, it’s worth knowing that cardboard and paperboard are two completely different things. And using these terms interchangeably is simply wrong.

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Solid cardboard, paperboard and corrugated cardboard.

Do you want to know why it is so important to distinguish between them and what practical differences we can distinguish? Check out this post.

What is the difference between cardboard and paperboard?

The key differences include, above all, the thickness and structure of these two materials. Cardboard is characterised by its flexibility and uniformity. We can print on it without any problems. This is why it is very often used for advertising materials, folders, small boxes and card games. Box card is a unique material because it has a black insert inside. Such an insert is not translucent, which makes it impossible to see the other side of the card.

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Solid cardboard and printed paperboard.

Paperboard, on the other hand, consists of as many as several layers of paper pulp. This structure obviously affects the thickness as well as the rigidity of this type of material. The raw material is much less flexible, which makes it much more complicated to print on. This is why it is often used as a base for lamination. Furthermore, paperboard can be divided into 2 basic types: bookbinding and corrugated paperboard.

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Three-layer corrugated cardboard, type B and E, bleached on one side.

What is bookbinding paperboard (solid)?

Bookbinding paperboard is also known as hard or solid paperboard. It is an ecological material produced by recycling waste paper. The good stiffness of bookbinding paperboard and its smooth surface make it suitable for many applications. It works well as the core of jigsaw puzzles and board games.

Solid paperboard is available on the market in a variety of colours. It is customary for jigsaw puzzle paperboard to have a blue tint, however with double-sided laminated elements this is no longer important. The colour of paperboard is an individual matter used by manufacturers to differentiate the quality range. Only paperboard dyed in a specific colour for dedicated solutions is excluded.

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Bookbinding cardboard cut to the appropriate formats for tokens.

What is corrugated paperboard?

It is used to make all kinds of packaging. The most common three-layer corrugated paperboard consists of two flat layers, which are combined with a corrugated layer. Due to the type of wave and the number of layers – the range of applications for this material is really impressive. E-wave or B-wave are most commonly used for packaging.

Diagram of a corrugated cardboard structure: 1 - two-layer, 2 - three-layer, 3 - four-layer, 4 - five-layer, e.g. E + B wave

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The most important wave parameters in corrugated cardboard: X - wave pitch [mm], H - wave height [mm].

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Wave break table for wavy measures.

Wave symbol

Type of wave

Wave height [mm]

Wave pitch [mm]



3,6 – 4,8

8,3 – 8,9



2,3 – 3,2

5,8 – 6,4



3,0 – 3,7

7,0 – 7,6


very high


10 –12



1,2 – 2,0

3,3 – 4,2



0,6 – 1,1

2,2 – 3





Are these the only differences between paperboard and cardboard?

Not really! Another important factor is the weight of both materials. In the case of cardboard, the weight varies between 160 g/m² and 315 g/m². As for paperboard, its weight is usually much higher than 315 g/m².

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Printed paperboard and bound together (laminated) with non-printed pages.

Would you like to know more about the production of jigsaw puzzles and other games?

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You can find them directly on the Fabryka Puzzli blog, which we invite you to visit. And if you want to order jigsaw puzzles for your company – don’t wait and contact us now. We will ask you about your needs and then we will gladly take care of creating a personalised jigsaw puzzle.