AbstractThe polysaccharide xyloglucan as a wet-end additive improves paper properties. In the present study, paper strength improvement was analysed for dry handsheets made from chemical, mechanical and recycled pulps coated with xyloglucan in a spray application. Results are compared with sheets made from the same pulps treated with xyloglucan in the wet-end. Kraft pulp handsheets of bleached hardwood and softwood showed significant improvements of tensile, tear and Z-strength by xyloglucan spray treatment versus wet-end application, whereas handsheets of de-inked and thermomechanical pulp were improved only slightly. In both wet-end and spray applications, the effect of xyloglucan addition was intimately related to the presence of non-cellulosic components on the fibre surface. Further strength improvements were obtained for chemical pulps by addition of borax to the spray solution, which were likely to be due to the formation of borate-mediated xyloglucan cross-links. Spray coating of xyloglucan, with or without borax, thus represents a potential new application of this polysaccharide to increase paper dry strength.