Paper Napkins:

Manufactured in several sizes and in a variety of colours and extraordinary designs and patterns. A small size, 16cm square, is normally used in fast food outlets. Medium sized napkins, 33cm square, are for general purposes and the large size, 40cm square, are for restaurant use. There is an extra large size, 48cm square, usually called a dinner napkin but these are not always readily available in the retail market. A name or corporate logo is often found on white or single colour napkins. They can also be printed with a name and date of a special occasion or event.

The quality of a paper napkin is defined by its “ply”. The term ply defines layers and the thickness of the paper napkin — therefore the more ply, the thicker the napkin. Small napkins are usually one ply, medium are one or two ply and large napkins are usually two or three ply. It is possible occasionally to find four ply on large and extra large napkins. The feel of the napkin could be soft or embossed; the embossing provides extra thickness while still maintaining the two ply structure.

Embossed Napkins:

Very popular in the United States and some parts of Europe, these napkins are made of compressed paper — very similar to the domestic kitchen towel. They are extremely absorbent and perfect for occasional spillage. Unlike paper napkins, they are not defined with the word “ply” being of compressed paper construction. Like paper napkins, they come in a multitude of colours and patterns. Sizes: normally 33cm and 40cm square.
Because of their spring effect, they are only suitable for simple designs of napkin folding.

Airlaid Napkins:

This is the latest in “Compressed Paper” technology. There is no way to adequately describe this type of napkin, which is not strictly paper and technically not linen either. However, this innovative contemporary material, known in the trade as “Airlaid”, is well suited for anyone who requires a more refined product than ordinary paper napkins or for when the use of linen napkins is just not practical solution.

Different manufacturers of Airlaid (also described as “Formed Fabric” or “Compressed Paper Napkins”) use different methods of processing at the manufacturing stage. Therefore these napkins, unlike paper napkins, are defined more by the manufacturer's brand name rather than the type or way in which there are constructed. The sizes of these napkins are usually 33cm and 40cm square. Some manufacturers produce a 48 cm square, but again this is not always easily available for the domestic market. The cost per unit of this type of napkin is a factor that one really needs to take into account, against linen napkins and 3ply paper napkins. As all cases there are advantages and disadvantages on the choice of Airlaid napkins.

Note: Although there is an array of paper and Airlaid napkin of all sizes and shapes, for all sorts of application, only sizes normally used for table setting are mentioned on this page.

Paper napkins are the perfect material for practising napkin folding.