Printed Photography Backdrops : we compare & look at the difference between paper & vinyl backdrops

Printed Photography Backdrops : we compare & look at the difference between paper & vinyl backdrops

April 01, 2021

Main image features the 'Wednesday' handpainted effect backdrop in vinyl


Since March 2021 our photography backdrops are available printed on both paper and vinyl material, offering the best of both worlds; affordable, sustainable paper and fully-waterproof, more durable vinyl. 

Here we will compare materials and talk about the different benefits you can expect from paper and vinyl backdrops, but first, let's look at the common features of all of our printed photography backdrops.


Printed backdrops offer both beginners and professionals lots of benefits when sourcing photography surfaces. (We know this because we have world class photographers and creative agencies as well as home bakers and bloggers using our backdrops!) 


Printed photography backdrops are – 

  • Generally cheaper than the real thing.
  • More readily available – you don’t have to hunt through salvage yards anymore (although that is fun).
  • Lighter and a lot more portable – a god send if marble is your thang. Packing up at the end of shoots and transporting printed backdrops is a doddle.
  • Less hassle and smaller to store, keeping your studio space free to work.
  • Flexible so you can create infinity curves for a very quick and easy set up.
  • Easier to keep clean – especially the vinyls if you want to create messy food shots.
  • A great way to build up a collection of props.

As part of a mixed collection of surfaces, printed backdrops provide an excellent way of expanding your prop collection.


So how do our paper and vinyl printed photography backdrops compare?


white vinyl photography backdrop food styling printed surface props

The 'Salt' mottled white backdrop in vinyl


You will already know that our paper backdrops are nearly half the price of the vinyl versions, so that’s tick one; they are more affordable.

Of course that gets a ‘yey’ for more money staying in your pocket, but it also means that if you want to you can experiment more and change with the seasons or just have a larger collection for the same money.

You might also consider our paper backdrops as disposable at only £18 a sheet.  I know several photographers who buy them in for clients then get rid of them straight after the shoot so they aren’t loosing more and more space to very specific client props.

(And they can of course be recycled with your usual recycling - UK specific info here - with low environmental impact.)


Another way that paper beats vinyl is in the print quality.  By design, paper is the best thing to absorb ink quickly and give a clean, crisp edge to every pixel printed. 

I didn’t realise until we started printing the same designs on vinyl that the print is marginally softer on vinyl material.  Maybe this is why we have so much positive feedback and 5* reviews for our paper backdrops despite the reduced durability.

This is something worth considering if you want to shoot macro or small products like jewellery close up on the backdrops.

Staying on small products – paper backdrops are easier to cut down and use in a smaller set up, maybe even in a lightbox.


Another benefit of paper is that there is less glare.  Both materials have very low glare thanks to the matt materials we use but paper naturally has more texture to it and on a minute scale this adds to the absorption of light making it matter than the vinyl backdrops.


BUT! Our extra-thick vinyl backdrops have a new benefit I wasn’t expecting and that is that they spring open and want to be flat.  

This makes them ready-to-shoot straight out of the tube. (We have tested this up to 3 days in the tube and they come out with almost no curl that relaxes out very quickly.)


The extra thick vinyl material also makes them easy to hang vertically giving a ‘clean’ hang – less wobbly than paper or thin vinyl which can need pulling tight with extra clips or sticking flat to an upright surface.


paper vinyl photography backdrop food styling printed surface props

The large 'Beaten/Flaky' painted old wood effect backdrop in paper 


And finally of course, the big clincher for vinyl photography backdrops is that they are fully waterproof and a lot more durable than the paper sheets.

If you shoot messy food and drinks this might be the most important thing for you, being able to style and shoot at your own pace, knowing the backdrop won't be affected by drips and spills.

Our paper backdrops have some water-resistance too, but it is down to the ink covering the matt paper below - darker designs with a good coat of ink will stand up to moisture better.


But don’t forget; our paper backdrops can be spray-mounted and sealed using MDF so there is the option there to have the same benefits from a more sustainable product.

The vinyl backdrops can of course be mounted to a solid surface too and wouldn’t need sealing as they are already waterproof. 

I guess it depends if you’d rather spend the extra £12 on vinyl or a few extra minutes and a lick of varnish to seal a paper sheet! Personally I'd go for the more sustainable but slightly longer-winded paper option for the same outcome.


If you'd like to see how both materials are packed and arrive or how they can be used check out out 'Getting Started' blog and video.

I think that's it! Do you have any other reasons you prefer one material over the other? Please comment below, I'd love to get your take on this!

Thank you for reading, I hope you've found this useful!

Sophie xx


Other pages & blogs you might find useful -

How to use an infinity curve for food and product photography

Getting started - how our backdrops arrive and can be used and stored

More about the materials we print on


Browse Paper Backdrops | Browse Vinyl Backdrops


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