Back to Home

A Look at Sandpaper, Masking Paper and Other Industrial Papers

Categories: Industry Insights

When it comes to industrial applications, paper-based products have to be tough. That’s why Domtar works closely with our clients to develop specialty papers for industrial applications, such as sandpaper, paint masking and more.

“The key to most of these papers is fiber strength, so manufacturers need to use strong fiber,” says Peter Gilbert, director of Marketing & Customer Service for Domtar Specialty Papers. “That’s one of Domtar’s strengths. We use northern bleached softwood kraft pulp (NBSK), which is a very strong virgin fiber that is harvested sustainably.”

NBSK is produced in our Espanola Mill and used at our Espanola, Port Huron and Nekoosa mills to make a wide range of papers for conversion into industrial products–some familiar and some surprising.

Abrasive Base for Sandpaper

Sandback, or abrasive base paper, is sold to converters, who saturate it with latex and adhesive before coating it with abrasive particles to create sandpaper. This paper is available in different basis weights and strengths, depending on the grade of sandpaper being manufactured.

Wallboard Tape Base Papers

Domtar produces two types of wallboard tape base. One is used to bundle sheets of wallboard for easier movement around job sites. The other is used to seal joints between sheets of wallboard after installation.

Paint Masking Paper

This product is used in auto body shops to mask windows, emblems and other surfaces before the vehicle is painted. Because automotive paint contains aggressive solvents, paint masking paper is highly resistant to solvents.

Tile Backing Paper

This product is used as a liner for adhesive floor tiles; the liner is peeled away to expose the adhesive before installing the tile. Because the adhesive used on floor tiles is very strong, tile backing paper must also be very strong so it won’t tear when it’s pulled away. It also must be dense so that the adhesive won’t soak through the liner.

Paint Filter Paper

Domtar produces the paper used to make conical paint filters. This paper, which must be rigid enough to hold its shape, is one of the company’s oldest industrial papers, in production for more than two decades.

Cap Innerliner Paper

This type of paper is fused to foil, poly film or other materials to create a product that lines the lids of bottles for pills, spices and other products. The paper must bond well with other materials and be dimensionally stable so it lies flat.

Chart Base

Chart base is highly sized and water-resistant, making it ideal for analog recording equipment that uses ink pens to track data on circular paper disks. Its unique composition prevents ink from bleeding over time.

Wallboard Face

Wallboard face is heavily printed and covered with a top coat to provide scuff resistance when laminated to gypsum board. Used to make paneling and imaged wall covering, wallboard face is part of a growing product family that includes furniture laminates. This high-quality paper must be very thin, with an even printing surface that accepts heavy ink coverage uniformly.

Placemat and Doily Paper

A surprising member of Domtar’s industrial paper product family is placemat and doily paper, which is sold in rolls and die-cut by a converter. Doily paper, in particular, is kosher-certified. Currently, the Espanola and Port Huron mills are certified to produce kosher products; Nekoosa Mill is in the process of becoming certified.

The Domtar Industrial Paper Difference

All of our industrial papers are carefully manufactured to meet specifications for conversion and end use. The paper has to have the tensile and absorptive characteristics necessary to withstand the conversion process, and it must meet product performance requirements.

“That’s key to what we do,” says David Fait, director of specialty sales for Domtar Specialty Papers. “We’re not trying to make it work just for the converter or just for the end user. Two different converters may supply the same end customer but have two different types of equipment and need different types of paper and substrates. Both the end use and conversion have to be considered.”

As Domtar’s product development team works with clients to create new products, it takes into account all of the conversion and end-user requirements to ensure the final product performs as expected.

“The ability to design a product that meets a specific end use is one of our strengths,” Fait says. “It’s about balancing the characteristics of the paper, whether it’s hold-out properties, absorptive properties, strength or density. That balance is essential, and we work hard to get it right.”

Domtar also has the ability to start small and grow to scale with new products. In fact, the industrial paper group is always looking for new applications. Products currently in development include:

  • Saturating base paper that is coated with an anti-corrosion chemical before being used to wrap metal parts;
  • Paper packing tape that is gummed before being used to seal shipping cartons; and
  • Filler paper that is crinkled before being used to fill empty space in shipping boxes.

Although industrial paper represents just 10 percent of Domtar’s specialty paper business, it’s one of the most stable categories, with consistent growth year over year.

“It’s impossible to replace products like sandpaper and masking paper with an iPad or a computer,” Gilbert says. “There is no electronic substitution, which makes these products pretty resistant to market ebb and flow. Industrial papers are mature. They’ve been there a long time, and they’re not going away. That’s good news for us.”

To learn about Domtar’s other specialty papers, read: