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What is Yupo®?

Yupo® is a synthetic paper that's revolutionizing the printing and art worlds. Made from polypropylene, it's waterproof, tear-resistant, and offers a unique, smooth surface for vibrant colors and crisp images. Its durability and versatility open up endless creative possibilities. Curious about how Yupo® can transform your next project? Discover the innovative ways artists and designers are using this remarkable material.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Yupo® is a type of synthetic paper made from polypropylene by the Yupo company. The paper has distinct advantages and disadvantages when compared with conventional tree-based paper. The company has worked on synthetic paper products since the 1970s. Yupo® can be ordered directly through the company, or from one of a network of distributors. A limited number of art supply stores also carry Yupo®.

According to the Yupo company, the paper is resistant to tears, stains, chemicals, and water. It is also very hard wearing, making it well suited to applications in which a product will see large amounts of potential abuse over its lifetime. The durability of Yupo® is one of the major advantages of the paper, since it wears much better than conventional paper. Yupo® is used to make things like wipeable restaurant menus, waterproof maps, and other hard-wearing printed goods.

Woman painting
Woman painting

Because Yupo® is made from plastic, special inks must be used for printing on it. It is also not safe to use in copiers, faxes, and laser printers, since it is susceptible to heat damage. It can be printed on with a conventional offset press, as long as the press does not generate excessive heat during the printing process. Some artists also use Yupo®, because the paper creates a distinct and sometimes desired look, especially for watercolors.

The paper is designed to be pH neutral, and it has a smooth, glossy finish. Essentially, Yupo® is a paintable sheet of plastic, specially finished with chemicals which will allow it to absorb inks. The printing process can be disrupted by things like oil and dirt, so it is important to keep Yupo® clean before use.

Like many other plastics, Yupo® is potentially recyclable, although not all recycling facilities will handle the product. Check with your local recycling facility before discarding things like Yupo®, as impurities in a batch of recycling can lead the company to throw it out, rather than process it. The paper substitute can also be incinerated in a high temperature and enriched oxygen environment. If burned cleanly, Yupo® does not generate a great deal of pollution.

Many people view Yupo® as an environmentally friendly alternative to paper, since it is not made from trees. The company also tries to manufacture the paper in an environmentally sound way. In addition, Yupo® can be printed on using a waterless process, which reduces pollution and wasted water.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Yupo and what is it made of?

Yupo is a synthetic paper that is 100% tree-free, made from polypropylene pellets. It is waterproof, tear-resistant, and durable, making it an excellent choice for various applications that require a non-absorbent and sturdy substrate. Its unique properties allow it to be used in fine art, printing, and even in industrial settings where traditional paper would not suffice.

Can Yupo paper be used with different types of media?

Yes, Yupo paper is incredibly versatile and can be used with a wide range of media. Artists often use it with watercolors, alcohol inks, and acrylic paints. The non-porous surface allows for unique effects and easy manipulation of the media. Additionally, Yupo is suitable for various printing techniques, including offset, silkscreen, and digital printing, offering creative possibilities for designers and printers alike.

Is Yupo paper environmentally friendly?

Yupo paper is environmentally conscious in that it is 100% recyclable, tree-free, and produced without the use of toxic chemicals. Its durability also means that it has a longer lifespan than traditional paper, potentially reducing waste. However, as a synthetic material, it does not biodegrade like organic paper, so proper recycling is essential to minimize environmental impact.

How does the durability of Yupo compare to traditional paper?

The durability of Yupo far exceeds that of traditional paper. It is tear-resistant, waterproof, and can withstand extreme weather conditions, which makes it ideal for outdoor applications. Its resilience to wear and tear also means that artworks or printed materials on Yupo can last for many years without deterioration, unlike conventional paper that can yellow, tear, or get damaged by water over time.

Where can I purchase Yupo paper and what should I expect in terms of cost?

Yupo paper can be purchased from art supply stores, online retailers, and directly from manufacturers specializing in synthetic papers. The cost of Yupo paper is generally higher than that of traditional paper due to its synthetic nature and the specialized manufacturing process required to produce it. However, prices can vary depending on the size, thickness, and quantity of sheets purchased.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a MusicalExpert researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a MusicalExpert researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments


I love painting in watercolors on Yupo, it is acid free and archival. It makes painting fun and if you are a "fiddler" you will love the ability to fiddle for hours using wc and Yupo.


I've worked on YUPO for over 10 years, and George James in California began working on it in the late 60's when it was called Tempura paper. It is Ph neutral and lasts a very, very long time.

At one time, one of the art magazines had an article in it written by an 'authority' who said Yupowasn't archival. He quoted a partial sentence from Yupo's website about the coating of calcium carbonate on the surface of the Yupo and gave an misleading idea that Yupo was going to degrade quickly - not true had research been adequately done. From that time, Yupo has been tossed back and forth about it's longevity. But it's a grade 5 polypropelene plastic - top grade - doesn't break down - and yet it is easily recyleable and emits few pollutants to the air when burned.

It seems professional artists are either strongly for Yupo or against it. I love painting on it! Sandy


I just invested in a small pad, but i'm not terribly fond of it for watercolor painting. I didn't really know what to expect and I'm still kind of playing around with it. I am very interested in hearing what advise other users might have.


Does anyone know if you can paint with oils on it?


I recently attended a workshop taught by artist Robert Burridge. We were told that Yupo should not be used for paintings as it does not have archival qualities, and in fact, is designed to deteriorate rather quickly. I would like to know for sure if this is the case. Anyone else really know?


As a watercolourist I enjoy using Yupo paper.

I do wonder about its longevity though.

Does anyone have any idea if it will last many years, or eventually disintegrate as many plastics do?

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