FAQ - Paper Coatings

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

What is uncoated paper?

uncoated paper
Exaggerated Side View Illustration
All paper stocks start out being uncoated. Uncoated paper is porous with an uneven, rougher surface. As a result, uncoated paper is easier to write on as it absorb ink readily and dries to the touch faster. However, the heavier amount of ink uncoated paper absorbs may result in less rub resistance. Uncoated stocks include bonds, offsets, card, and newsprint.

What is coated paper?

Exaggerated Side View Illustration

After manufacture, the uncoated paper surface may be coated with white clay materials. The clay gives the paper a smooth feel by filling minute valleys in the paper surface. The coating also limits the absorption of inks into the paper. Because the inks stay on the surface of the coating instead of soaking in, the ink looks deeper, sharper and glossier. However, writing and ballpoint pen inks may take longer to dry on coated paper and can smudge more easily. On coated stock, less ink is need to achieve the desired visual richness for text, images and photo's. 

Coatings are offered in a range of reflectivity values including dull, matte, silk, satin or glossy. Reading long areas of text is easier when printed on dull or matt finishes. After printing images on dull or mat stock, a varnish can be applied to the picture areas to add gloss and make the pictures pop.

What's the difference between coated and uncoated paper?

Paper with a coating is smooth and shiny while uncoated paper is flat with little or no shine. Gloss stock makes colors look smoother, deeper, richer, with great color-contrast. Photo's 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 dull 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.