What is manila paper used for? Cost Factors and Varieties of Manila Paper

Manila paper is an inexpensive type of paper made from wood fibers. Its name comes from manila hemp and it has a unique buff color. It is commonly used for file folders, envelopes, clothing patterns, and children’s art projects. It is strong like kraft paper, offers good printing qualities, and retains color well.

What is manila paper?

Manila paper is a type of inexpensive paper, traditionally made from partially bleached wood fibers. The paper was initially crafted from recycled abacá rope fibers and named after manila hemp, also known as abacá, which is cultivated in the Philippines.

Over time, wood pulp became the primary material, reducing production costs while retaining the paper’s distinctive buff color. Manila paper has been commonly used for making file folders and envelopes, offering strength, superior printing qualities, and color retention.

It has been historically significant, being utilized for clothing patterns in the fashion industry and as an affordable option for children’s art projects. The transition from abacá to wood pulp occurred in the 19th century due to factors like the shortage of cotton and linen rags in the United States.

This paper’s unique history and properties make it a versatile and practical material across various industries.

What is Kraft paper?

Manufacturing processes of manila paper

Manila paper is manufactured through a process that involves the following key steps:

  1. Raw Material Selection: The manufacturing process begins with the selection of raw materials, traditionally abacá fibers from the manila hemp plant or wood pulp. The choice of raw material significantly influences the paper’s properties and characteristics.
  2. Pulping: The selected raw materials undergo a pulping process to break them down into individual fibers. This can be achieved through mechanical or chemical pulping methods, such as groundwood, sulfite, or sulfate processes, depending on the desired quality of the paper.
  3. Bleaching (if applicable): In the case of wood pulp, the fibers may undergo a bleaching process to achieve the desired level of whiteness or brightness. This step is not necessary if the natural buff color of traditional manila paper is preferred.
  4. Paper Formation: The pulped fibers are then mixed with water to create a pulp slurry, which is spread onto a mesh screen to form a continuous mat of interwoven fibers. This forms the basis for the subsequent steps in the papermaking process.
  5. Drying and Pressing: The formed mat of fibers is passed through a series of rollers and presses to remove excess water and compact the fibers into a coherent sheet.
  6. Finishing: Once the sheet of paper has been dried, it may undergo additional treatments such as calendering or surface sizing to enhance its finish, smoothness, and printability.

The manufacturing process may vary depending on the type of manila paper being produced, such as traditional, recycled, or specialty variations, each of which may involve specific additional steps or variations in the pulping and formation processes.

Types of Manila Paper

Manila paper comes in various types, each with distinct characteristics and uses:

  1. Traditional Manila Paper: This type of manila paper is made from partially bleached wood fibers, offering a balance of strength and printing qualities. It is commonly used for file folders, envelopes, and art projects due to its affordability and durability.
  2. Manila Hemp Paper: Crafted from genuine manila hemp, also known as abacá, this type of manila paper provides exceptional strength and durability. While less common in modern production, it historically offered superior water resistance and flexibility.
  3. Recycled Manila Paper: As sustainability becomes a significant consideration, recycled manila paper is gaining popularity. This type of paper utilizes post-consumer fibers, contributing to environmental conservation efforts.
  4. Specialty Manila Paper: Some variations of manila paper are tailored for specific purposes, such as clothing pattern creation in the fashion industry. These specialty papers may have unique coatings or finishes to meet particular requirements.

Manila paper’s versatility and historical significance make it a valuable material in various industries, catering to different needs and applications.

acid free paper

What is manila paper used for?

Manila paper has historically been utilized for various purposes, including:

Clothing Patterns

In the fashion industry, large rolls of manila paper are used for creating finalized clothing patterns due to its affordability and practicality.

Art Projects

Manila paper is often chosen by children for art projects due to its cost-effectiveness. These applications showcase the versatility and widespread usage of manila paper across different industries and settings.

Manila Folder

A manila folder is a type of file folder used for storing documents, typically in a filing cabinet. It is often made by folding a large sheet of stiff card in half and is commonly buff-colored, although other colors may be used for file categorization. The size is designed to accommodate full sheets of printer paper without folding, similar to a manila envelope.

Manila Envelope

The manila envelope, unlike a folder, incorporates a resealable feature, allowing it to be used repeatedly without tearing. This is achieved through either a metal clasp with two prongs or a cardboard button and string closure. Additionally, envelopes made of brown, unbleached paper are also referred to as manila envelopes due to their affordability.

A man Buying Custom Tissue Paper Napkin

Is manila paper durable?

Yes, manila paper is known for its durability, making it suitable for various applications. Its strength and resilience make it a practical choice for creating clothing patterns in the fashion industry, as well as for use in art projects, file folders, and envelopes.

The historical use of Manila paper for maritime purposes also reflects its durability and water-resistant qualities. While modern production may primarily utilize wood pulp, traditional Manila hemp fibers historically contributed to the paper’s strength and flexibility.

Manila paper is indeed durable, offering a valuable combination of strength and practicality.

Is manila paper waterproof?

Manila paper, traditionally made from Manila hemp or wood pulp, does not have inherent waterproof qualities. While it may offer some degree of resistance to moisture, it is not designed to be waterproof. For applications requiring waterproof characteristics, alternative paper or coating options would be more suitable.

How to find manila paper shop near me?

To find a manila paper shop near your location, you can use various methods:

  1. Online Search: Use a search engine or a map application and enter “manila paper shop” along with your current location. This should provide you with a list of nearby stores selling manila paper.
  2. Office Supply Stores: Check with local office supply stores or art supply stores, as they often carry manila paper and related products.
  3. Craft Stores: Visit nearby craft stores or hobby shops, which are likely to stock manila paper for art projects and creative use.
  4. Stationery Stores: Explore nearby stationery stores, as they commonly offer a variety of paper products, including manila paper.
  5. Local Business Directories: Look in local business directories, both online and in print, for listings of specialty paper stores that may carry manila paper.

Using these methods, you can easily locate a manila paper shop near your current location for your specific needs.

Manila paper cost

The cost of manila paper can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size, weight, brand, and where you buy it. Here is a table of some typical prices for manila paper in the United States:

  • Size: Manila paper comes in a variety of sizes, from the standard letter size (8.5″ x 11″) to large sheets (36″ x 48″). The larger the sheet, the more expensive it will be.
  • Brand: There are many different brands of manila paper on the market, and the price can vary depending on the brand.
  • Quality: Manila paper can range in quality from low-grade paper that is thin and flimsy to high-grade paper that is thick and durable. The higher the quality, the more expensive it will be.
  • Quantity: Manila paper is often sold in bulk, and the price per sheet will be lower if you buy a larger quantity.
SizeQualityQuantityPrice per sheet
Letter (8.5″ x 11″)Low-grade500 sheets$0.05
Letter (8.5″ x 11″)High-grade500 sheets$0.10
Legal (8.5″ x 14″)Low-grade500 sheets$0.07
Legal (8.5″ x 14″)High-grade500 sheets$0.15
Tabloid (11″ x 17″)Low-grade500 sheets$0.10
Tabloid (11″ x 17″)High-grade500 sheets$0.20
Ledger (17″ x 22″)Low-grade500 sheets$0.15
Ledger (17″ x 22″)High-grade500 sheets$0.30
36″ x 48″Low-grade50 sheets$1.00
36″ x 48″High-grade50 sheets$2.00

Please note that these are just typical prices, and the actual cost may vary depending on the factors mentioned above. It is always best to shop around and compare prices before you buy.

Here are some additional factors that can affect the price of manila paper:

  • Color: Manila paper is typically available in natural brown, but it can also be found in a variety of colors, such as white, blue, and green. Colored manila paper is usually more expensive than natural brown manila paper.
  • Recycled content: Manila paper made with recycled content is often more expensive than manila paper made with virgin paper.
  • Texture: Manila paper can be smooth or textured. Textured manila paper is often more expensive than smooth manila paper.
  • Features: Some manila paper has features such as water resistance or fire resistance. Manila paper with these features is usually more expensive than plain manila paper.

Here are some additional tips for saving money on manila paper:

  • Buy in bulk: If you use a lot of manila paper, you can save money by buying it in bulk. However, make sure you have the storage space to accommodate a large quantity of paper.
  • Look for sales: Many stores have sales on manila paper throughout the year. Be sure to check the flyers and online coupons before you buy.
  • Consider buying generic brands: Generic brands of manila paper are often just as good as name brands, but they can be much cheaper.
  • Use recycled paper: Recycled manila paper is a good option for environmentally conscious consumers. It is also often cheaper than non-recycled paper.

Manila paper History

19th Century

During the 1830s, the United States faced a shortage of cotton and linen rags, prompting papermakers to explore alternative materials for paper production. This shortage persisted until the 1870s when wood pulp paper replaced rag paper.

In 1843, Mark Hollingsworth and his sons John and Lyman obtained a patent for producing paper from manila fibers. This venture later evolved into Hollingsworth & Vose. The creation of manila paper provided a sustainable way to recycle manila rope previously used on ships, resulting in strong, water-resistant, and flexible paper.

Initially, manila paper was made from old Manila hemp ropes, which were widely used on ships in place of true hemp. These ropes were woven from abacá or Musa textilis, which is cultivated in the Philippines. Despite being an exceptionally durable fiber, abacá is relatively costly, leading to the adoption of wood pulp as the primary material for Manila paper. This transition, often incorporating a high percentage of recycled fibers, has been accompanied by the continued use of the name “Manila.” Recent developments suggest that folders made from true Manila hemp would have possessed enhanced strength and durability compared to modern folders.

By 1873, the United States Department of Agriculture quoted Thomas H. Dunham as describing Manila paper as “nine-tenths jute” while praising jute production.

20th Century

In 1906, over 2,000,000 piculs of Manila fibers were manufactured, accounting for approximately 66% of the country’s export earnings.

Between 1898 and 1946, the United States administered the Philippines following the Spanish-American War. During this period, the colonial government hindered Filipinos from benefiting from abaca crops, favoring American and Japanese businesses and directing a significant portion of the abaca harvests to the United States for military purposes.