Stamping Ink Onto Porous Vs. Non-Porous Surfaces

Surface Types

When choosing your stamp, you need to consider the type of surface you will be working with. Regular stamp ink won’t be nearly as effective or simply won’t work at all on glass or glossy surfaces, and higher quality, quick drying inks are overkill if used on standard paper or stationery. Most surfaces can be divided into two categories; porous or non-porous. Knowing the differences between these types of surfaces helps in making an informed decision when it comes to choosing the right stamp and ink.


Brown Envelope Sealed with Wax and Halloween Return Address Stamp Impression defines “porous” as:¹

“permeable to water, air, or other fluids”

Simply put, it comes down to whether or not a surface or object has holes. Sponges are an easy example of a porous item. However, an item’s porosity can be determined down to nearly a molecular level. The smaller the holes present, the less water and fluids can pass through, but if air or other gases can pass through, then a surface is still considered porous.

Examples of porous surfaces include:

  • Standard paper
  • Cardboard
  • Fabrics


Stamping Porous Surfaces

Typically, you can use regular stamps and ink on porous surfaces. The construction of these materials allows the ink to be at least partially absorbed and will dry relatively quickly. There are exceptions such as cloth or low porosity surfaces. Fabrics can absorb too well causing bleeding and your stamp won’t leave a crisp impression. Again, this is all dependent on the type of cloth. There are many different kinds of textiles with varying levels of thread count and density. However, you’ll generally want to avoid using standard stamp ink on fabric.

Even if an item is technically porous, its holes may be too small to adequately absorb ink. In these cases, it may be best to treat it as a non-porous surface.



Stack of Magazines with Glasses Resting on Top

Inversely, defines “nonporous” as:²

“not permeable to water, air, or other fluids”

This is the fundamental difference between non-porous and porous surfaces. The porosity of non-porous surfaces is non-existent or so low that practically nothing can pass through them. Again, this can be observed down to a molecular level. Companies like Applied Paper Technology are able to test the porosity of different types and brands of paper with special porosity testing machines.³

Examples of non-porous surfaces include:

  • Glossy paper
  • Glass
  • Stainless steel


Stamping Non-Porous Surfaces

Since standard stamp ink is designed to be partially absorbed by the surface it is applied to, special ink is needed to properly and adequately mark non-porous surfaces. Super Marking or quick drying ink is best used for these types of items. Since little to none of the ink is actually absorbed into the surface, it needs to dry quickly in order to prevent smearing. Additionally, since Super Marking ink is designed to dry quickly, it works better on cloth and other fabric items. The faster dry time means that the ink doesn’t have as much time to spread and bleed into the surrounding cloth.


Choosing the Right Stamp & Ink

Which stamp is right for you? That depends on what you want to accomplish. If you’re making cards or stamping your address on envelopes, regular self-inking, pre-inked, or wood handle stamps with standard ink will work beautifully. In contrast, if you’re looking to stamp your logo on a catalog or mark your child’s clothing, pre-inked or wood handle catalog stamps with Super Marking ink are the best way to go. Due to its composition, Super Marking ink is not intended for self-inking stamps.

Simply Stamps is your one-stop-shop for all of your stamping needs. Whether you’re looking for standard stamps or need to quick drying stamps for your business’s catalog, we have the supplies you need to make your mark.

Brand Your Company's Catalogs, Get 20% Off Catalog Stamps with Code SIMPLY20


  1. Porous
  2. Non-Porous
  3. Applied Paper Technology, Inc

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.