Choosing the Right Paper Coating and Finish

You’ll be thinking about several important factors when choosing your materials for your next printing project, from images and fonts to high-quality paper with the proper thickness and weight. There’s one area here that often goes overlooked by some printing companies, though: Coating and finishing.

Coating was created to help protect printed pieces from various risks like smudging or fingerprints, and also to help with the drying process when materials are hot off the printer. But they’re also a big factor in design and value for your project. At Sun Print Solutions, our offset printing services support all varieties of coatings out there. Let’s go over these basic types, how they add aesthetic value, and some combinations to consider.

choosing paper coating finish

Coating Types

There are three major coating types available:

  • Varnish: Applied on a printing press, similar to how ink is applied. Varnish coatings can be applied to entire pieces in some cases, or can be spot-applied to help emphasize specific areas.
  • Aqueous: These are water-based coatings that are applied to pieces the same way as varnish, but with faster drying properties. Aqueous coatings also must be applied to full pieces, and cannot be spot-applied.
  • UV: Ultraviolet coatings are applied similarly to a layer of clear ink, but then immediately cured using UV rays. For those looking for maximum luster and scratch resistance, UV coatings are the way to go.

How Coating Impacts Aesthetics

Coatings are also split into two basic themes: Gloss and matte (or dull) coatings. Some basic aesthetics effects to consider:

  • Gloss: Gloss coatings make images appear both sharper and closer to the reader. They also accentuate bright colors.
  • Matte: Dull coatings soften images and text, making them look “velvety” and light.
  • No coating: A common choice for matte paper, using no coating at all will lead to a flat look, which is desirable in some situations.

Paper and Coating Combinations

When you combine the above options with various choices of gloss, silk or matte paper choices, there are a variety of possibilities out there for your design. A few common design themes to consider here:

  • Collateral with dull coatings will offer a classic, smooth feel that appeals to many demographics.
  • Using spot gloss combined with dull finish is a great way to bring the illusion of “depth” to your printed materials. This can draw the reader in to specific areas you want to highlight.
  • Another use of spot coatings is to make images “pop” off the page.
  • Combine glossy paper with a dull finish – this will lower the glare that might concern you in some cases, but also help the colors of the collateral piece really stand out.
  • Consider tinted coatings to add a lighter feel to shadows or other darker areas in images.
  • Use dull coatings to soften images that are too sharp, or to give an old-fashioned look.

For more on paper coatings, or to learn about any of our digital printing, direct mail or offset printing services, speak to the pros at Sun Print Solutions today.

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