Coated vs Uncoated Paper

Coated vs Uncoated Paper

Choosing the right paper stock or coating for your project is important to achieve the desired result.

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What is uncoated paper?

uncoated paper
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Uncoated paper is porous with an uneven, rougher surface.  This makes it easier to write on as it absorbs ink readily and dries faster.

Uncoated stocks include bonds, offsets, card stock, form paper, envelopes, and newsprint.

What is coated paper?

coated paper
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Coated stocks are manufactured with a white-clay coating that gives the paper a smooth feel by filling in the imperfections of the paper's surface.  Coated paper limits the absorption of ink, so is recommended for art with heavier ink coverage to keep your photos or illustrations sharper.

Coated stocks may be Gloss, Dull, Matte, Silk, or Satin.  This paper is often paired with one of Printco's custom coatings.

When to choose Gloss, Matte/Satin, or Uncoated Paper:

Going with gloss vs. matte (also called dull, satin, or silk) is largely a personal choice.  Some things to consider when matching the paper to your artwork include:


  • Both Gloss and Matte papers are smoother to the touch than uncoated

  • Gloss and Matte both have more shine than Uncoated stock

  • Gloss stock makes colors look smoother, deeper, and richer, with great color-contrast. Photos and graphics tend to look better on gloss stock, while text heavy documents and artwork are often use matte stock.

  • Text is more easily read on paper with a matte finish. The softer-looking surface of matte paper provides color contrast and clarity.

  • Unlike glossy paper, matte stock is more forgiving of fingerprints, smudges and dust.

  • Uncoated paper is very absorbant, and ink dots will tend to spread outwards (i.e., dot gain), leading to a less precise and darker image than when printed on coated stock. A similar effect happens when a paper towel is placed on a spilled drop of coffee. The drop diameter increases and gets a ragged edge as the liquid spreads in the absorbant fibers. This dot gain can be minimized using sophisticated printing techniques, but it can't be eliminated. Coated paper is less absorbant and therefore dot gain is usually not an issue.


What is coated finishing?

Coating finishes are applied on top of the ink to speed drying time as well as to enhance visual effects. Coatings also protect the printed surface from scratching, marring, fingerprints and dirt. Coating finishes can also be used on enhance economy-grade paper by improving gloss and providing a smoother touch.

uncoated paper printed, coating finishcoated paper printed, coating finish
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Uncoated paper printed, with coating finish. 
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 Coated paper printed, with coating finish.

Learn more about our Ink and Coating options here.