Top 10: Things to Look for When Buying a Binder

It is time, once again, for a new TOP 10 list.  Sometimes in life we have to make hard decisions about big purchases.  Buying a TV, for example, is a big purchase that generally includes a lot of research trying to figure out what is the best TV for you.  Other purchases include little to no thinking, like buying office supplies.  Most people go into Staples looking for something in particular, like a binder.  Once in the store they go directly toward the binder aisle and pick out the first binder that fits their needs.

This week we’d like to challenge the traditional thought process about buying office supplies by giving you 10 things to genuinely think about when buying a binder.  A binder, like a computer, holds important papers, photos, etc. Why wouldn’t you take the same care when purchasing a binder like you do when purchasing a computer?

This week’s top 10 is comprised of input from all employees here at Samsill as well as some close friends that are current students.  The responses are recorded in order from most frequent response to least frequent.

1.) Spine Inserts

  1. Easy loading – spine inserts can be a pain to insert. If you plan on making spine inserts for more than one binder this is very important factor to keep in mind.  Time is money so wasting time on loading spine inserts is a huge waste.
  2. Easy organization – Spine inserts are one of the best ways to organize multiple binders. Binders are usually kept on shelves or in file cabinets and the only part visible is the spine. Having an easy to read spine insert is key to knowing what is in the binder with just a glance.
  3. Presentation & organization – A lot of companies and individuals use binders for presentations. A neatly done spine insert can add that extra “oomph” to a presentation binder.

2.) Color Options

  1. Color Coding a project – I, Mark, use this technique a lot. I am a visual person so I like to have a different color binder for each category of my life (i.e. Blue = financials, White = School work, Black = receipts, etc.)
  2. Fashion Colors for uniqueness – People love to be different, what better way to show off your personality than having a binder in neon green, purple, or Kermit?
  3. Colors for different sizes– Another great way to organize is to buy binders in different colors for each size. (i.e. 1”- White, 1.5”- black, etc.)

3.) Durability

  1. Heavy duty vs. Economy – Binders hold precious materials. You want a binder that is going to hold up for many years, sometimes lifetimes. Although sometimes you just want a binder for a presentation that must be turned in, meaning you’d want the cheapest one out there. Think about what the binder is going to for and how long you want it to hold up.
  2. How long to use binder – 6 months vs. lifetime?
  3. Flimsy appearing or feeling/looking sturdy – sometimes appearance is all that matters.  Once again think about who is going to see and feel the binder and whether it is worth going with better quality material.

4.) Rings

  1. Heavy duty rings – It is arguable that the rings are the most important part of a binder. After all it is what makes a binder different than a folder. Taking a close look at the rings is heavily important! Rings are not all created equal.
  2. Rivets – Look at the rivets that attach the rings to the chipboard. A lot are not good and will detach with too much paper.
  3. No Gap – Look to see if they will “gap.” Look to see if after a lot of open and closes if they will still clamp together uniformly or if they will bend.
  4. Unlocking – Look at the unlocking mechanics. Will it hold up with extensive use? Is it loud and annoying? Does it lock the rings so they won’t open on accident?
  5. Round ring vs. D ring – D rings are usually easier to load, they hold 25% more paper, and the paper lies flatter. Round rings are sometimes attached at the spine which could be valuable for certain applications.

5.) Price

  1. Perceived value compared to price – Price can be very important depending on the application of the binder. As stated, if only needing a binder to turn in then a low price would be important. If a binder is needed and expected to hold up under tough conditions then a higher price would be expected. The perceived value of the binder is important. If you want to help the environment then biodegradable binder would be more important, thus having higher perceived value, which would result in a price that reflects that higher value.

6.) Holding capacity – Sometimes we just want a binder that will hold a lot of paper.  A 5 or 6 inch binder can be heavy and huge so having a 4 inch binder that will hold as much paper as a 5” can be highly beneficial and space saving.  Also be sure to look if the paper will hang out the end, extra long binders or ones with a contoured back can prevent this.

7.) Made in the U.S.A – If you’re an American reading this then it is probably important to you that we do all we can to support our “local” worker. Buying a binder that is made in the USA isn’t something a lot of people think about but it can be very beneficial to your neighbor!

8.) View vs. Storage – It is important to think about the application of the binder to figure out if you want a binder with a view pocket on the spine and front or if a simple storage binder will work. View binders are helpful for organization but some people, like me, like to organize by color so storage can be better, and less expensive.

9.)    Non Stick material – If using a binder for archival purposes or you plan on keeping the binder for more than 6 months then a “non-stick” binder is extremely important to consider. A PVC binder will “stick” to you papers meaning that some of the ink will rub off on the binder ruining your papers as well as the binder. A non-stick binder can be a lifesaver for a company or individual who wants to keep long term paperwork in top quality.

10.) Special Features

  1. Interior pockets – binders come with no pockets, two pockets, 4 pockets, or a multitude of pockets. If you’re like me and like to keep recent work in the pockets this could be an important feature to consider.
  2. White board on inside – Some binders have cool, differentiating factors like including a white board on the inside. If you’re looking for something unique this is a factor to consider before buying.
  3. Etc. – There are a lot of niche players in the binder industry so if you want something more than a traditional binder this is an area you may want to put a lot of thought into.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of possibilities to consider but we think it is a good representation of the most important things to look at when buying a binder.  We hope you found it helpful & be sure to comment with any additional thoughts you have!


Samsill Marketing Team