Print Like A Pro

Coated vs Uncoated Paper

Ryan Sias

Understanding the Different Types of Paper Coatings

Coated Paper

Much of the paper that we use for printing projects here at Printworks fall under the coated paper category. The coating is applied at the paper mill rather than during the printing process. When the paper is manufactured, a coating is applied to the sheets, and then “polished” or smoothed out as a finishing process. Coated paper provides a bit of extra protection, as well as adding a surface which the ink or toner will rest on, preventing soaking into the sheet and dulling colors and softening images. Let’s talk about a couple of different types of paper coatings, and what you can expect from them with your printed projects.

Gloss Coated Paper

Gloss coating is the most popular paper coating here at Printworks. It reflects most light rather than absorbing it, which in turn makes colors appear more vibrant and bright. Gloss works excellent for posters, flyers, postcards, most marketing materials and any design that features bright colors. Gloss also gives photos an extra “pop” making them stand out more and look more lifelike. When in doubt about selecting which paper-finish to select for your printing project, gloss is a safe bet if you have a lot of color in your document and you don’t plan on the need for writing on your prints.

Satin Coated Paper

Satin coating is very similar to gloss in that it produces rich, vibrant colors, but absorbs more light than a gloss coating. More light absorption means there is less glare, but it comes at the small cost of slightly muted colors. Satin coated paper works well with designs with less ink or toner coverage, and more pastel colors, however satin coatings still produce bright colors and photos vibrantly. Much like gloss coatings, satin works well with marketing materials such as posters, flyers, business cards and bookmarks and produces a different look and feel than gloss.

Uncoated Paper

Uncoated paper is exactly what it sounds like - uncoated! Rather than having a coating, its surface is smoothed, giving it an even texture. The ink used in inkjet printing sinks into uncoated paper, muting the colors. Toner, however, is baked onto the surface, negating the muting affect. Here at Printworks we have a toner based digital press, so the colors printed on uncoated paper won’t be muted in the same way that would happen with ink based printing. Uncoated paper is recommended for any application that would require writing on the printed piece, because markers and pens tend to smear when writing on coated paper. While “smooth” (it’s exactly what it sounds like) is the most common, uncoated paper can come in many different textures for specific applications such as letterheads and invitations. To name a few:

Linen - Linen paper is textured to look like - you guessed it - linen! It is manufactured with a crisscross pattern that resembles a table cloth. Linen paper provides a luxurious look and feel that works well with designs that are well accentuated by it.

Stipple - Stipple texture has a course feel that is produced by a fine pebble-like surfacing. It has an interesting look and feel, and is best used with artwork that has minimal coverage in order to showcase the texture.

Eggshell (or Vellum) - Vellum paper is much like a smooth uncoated texture, however it has a slightly more coarse feel to it, much like an eggshell.

Coated or Uncoated Paper?

Now that you have a better understanding of both coated and uncoated papers, you will be able to better select the appropriate paper for your print project!

For marketing materials that contain a lot of color and coverage, a gloss or satin coated paper will give your project an extra pop and be sure to draw more attention.

For a quieter look and feel, an uncoated paper will help garner the subtlety of your project. On top of that, uncoated paper should always be the choice for a project that is meant to be written on.

There you have it! Now that you have an understanding of different paper coatings, you’ll be able to select the stock that is appropriate for your project. As always, feel free to ask your Printworks print specialist for a stock recommendation!

Also be sure to check out our Important Paper Lingo Explained and Printworks Paper Weight Cheatsheet for more help with understanding and selecting different stocks!