What Are The Disadvantages Of A Fountain Pen?

If you are trying to choose a new pen, you might be weighing up the pros and cons of a fountain pen, and wondering whether this could be for you. Let’s find out, what are the disadvantages of a fountain pen?

Fountain pens are popular for a variety of reasons, and many writers love the sensation and aesthetic of writing with fountain pens – but they also have some major problems. One disadvantage is that they can be very messy, and another is that the ink often goes through thin paper.

Let’s explore the disadvantages in more detail so you know whether a fountain pen is right for you.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Fountain Pen?

There are a few problems that fountain pens tend to run into, which can be frustrating for their users. These include things like:

  • You need to replace the cartridges frequently
  • They are messy
  • They need cleaning
  • They are more expensive
  • You need to put the cap on
  • They don’t work on cheap paper
  • Cartridges may not be compatible across brands

These disadvantages are often outweighed by the advantages, at least for some users, but it’s worth spending some time looking at them so you know whether a fountain pen is a right tool for you.

Frequent Cartridge Changes

Fountain pen cartridges don’t last for a particularly long time. They are only small, so you need to swap them regularly. This is frustrating and means that you need to carry spares with you.

It does mean that you can change the color frequently, but it can be annoying if you just want to stick a pen in your pocket or bag, without having to carry other equipment.

They Are Messy

Fountain pens are known for being a little messy; even the high-quality ones can leak ink when used, regardless of how they are used. You may find that you get smudges of ink on your fingers or on the paper. Changing the cartridge can be messy too.

A lot of people find that they do develop techniques for minimizing the mess, especially as they get used to their particular pen and how it works, but this is still a frustrating issue for many users.

There’s also always the potential for a fountain pen cartridge to develop a split and leak ink everywhere. This rarely happens as the cartridges are well designed, but when it does, there’s a lot of mess to clear up.

They Need Cleaning

Source: https://www.truphaeinc.com/blogs/news/how-to-clean-a-fountain-pen

Unfortunately, fountain pens need to be cleaned regularly to ensure that the ink flows properly. Over time, the ink will dry inside the nib, blocking the flow and making it unreliable, or stopping it entirely.

If you don’t clean the pen, you will find that the nib gets blocked, and you lose the smooth flow that fountain pens are so famous for. To clean the pen, you’ll need a bulb syringe that you can use to run warm water through the nib, flushing out the old ink. It then needs to be dried with a paper towel before you can use it again.

Many people don’t mind this, but it’s important to be aware of it. Fountain pens need maintenance!

They Are More Expensive

You will almost always pay more for a fountain pen than for any other kind of pen, and if you want something special, you can spend a fortune in this category. Even if you buy a low-end fountain pen, it is likely to cost more than ballpoints, rollerballs, gel pens, and other options.

Even just replacing the nib of a fountain pen can cost quite a lot. If you want cheap stationery, fountain pens are not the best option. However, this does mean that fountain pens are considered a little more “special” and you’re more likely to be able to get them engraved or otherwise personalized.

They Need A Cap

How do I stop my fountain pen from leaking?

You might think that having to put a cap on a pen shouldn’t be a major issue, but it can be surprisingly frustrating. You have to make sure you don’t lose the cap, it doesn’t roll onto the floor and get broken, and that you don’t forget to put it back on the pen when you’ve finished.

Many fountain pens will dry up fairly quickly if you don’t put the cap on, and most caps are not interchangeable. You, therefore, need to make sure you don’t lose your pen’s cap, as getting a replacement can be tricky.

Some high-quality fountain pens do last for a lot longer without their caps, but they are still at more risk of the nib getting bent, so it’s always best to keep the cap around.

They Don’t Work On Cheap Paper

Fountain pens have a tendency to either “feather” on cheap paper or go straight through it. Feathering ruins the nice lines that fountain pens are famous for, detracting from the aesthetic and making the writing look messier. The ink will spread out in little lines away from your lettering, blurring the text.

It’s also frustrating if the ink goes through, ruining the other side of the paper and potentially the surface underneath. You should therefore only use a fountain pen on high-quality paper.

Cartridges Aren’t Always Compatible

Unfortunately, the cartridges used for fountain pens are not universal, and what fits one pen will not fit another. This often means that you can’t get the exact color you want, or you buy a cartridge and then find it doesn’t fit.

If you have a particularly finicky fountain pen, you may find that you can only get cartridges that are made by that brand, which can be frustrating and expensive. Most are a little more flexible than this, but it’s still important to recognize that you can’t just add any cartridge to your pen and expect it to work.


Overall, fountain pens do have quite a few disadvantages. They are still popular pens, but it’s worth being aware of these issues before you buy one of these pens, especially if you are going to buy an expensive one. They leak, need cleaning, need frequent cartridge replacements, and require you to keep track of the cap.

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