Coated vs. Uncoated Paper — Same Design, Different Outcome

Many marketers and designers don't realize the significance of their paper selection when creating a printed piece. The decision on whether to use a coated or uncoated stock is as important in delivering an impactful message as the creative itself. In the same way the design of your project affects the final message, your paper selection affects the final appearance of the design you’re working to perfect. The difference between coated and uncoated paper plays an integral role in what the finished printed product will look like.

Let’s explore coated versus uncoated paper and their properties. You’ll see that there’s no wrong choice—only the one that’s right for your unique print project.

A Closer Look at Paper Stocks

Paper stock generally comes down to coated versus uncoated. Most people recognize coated stock as “glossy” paper and uncoated as “matte.” The reality is, there’s a wide range of individual types of paper under these two umbrellas. For example, you might choose a 100lb gloss text stock for your brochure or an 80lb uncoated stock for your business’ pre-printed letterhead. But what do these terms really mean?

  • Coated paper stock features a hardened clay coating that prevents ink from absorbing into the paper during the printing process. The results are sharper details and denser colors, creating images that pop off the page.

  • Uncoated paper stock isn’t treated, which means it readily absorbs ink. There’s no special shine to it, which means it’s easy to write on, fold, bind and process into a finished product.

Coated paper comes in a variety of gloss levels, while uncoated paper tends to be textured. The bottom line is that coated paper will give you vivid, vibrant images, while uncoated paper is best suited for projects meant for writing, such as stationery.

How to Make the Most of Your Paper Choice

As mentioned, there’s a wide range of different paper weights and options within each stock umbrella. You’ll need to have a general idea of the type of stock you want to use while finalizing your design, since it plays a role in what the finished result will look like.

Choose a coated stock for projects with lots of solid color, clear ink and metallic inks—the coating will both protect and amplify the color. If you need stamping or embossing, uncoated paper stock will fare much better and deliver eye-catching results.

Once you understand the basics of coated and uncoated paper, you can start to look at your project from a tactile standpoint—not just a visual one. Think about your project’s purpose before selecting its paper stock.

Let AlphaGraphics Pittsburgh Help You Decide

Still not sure which paper stock or weight is best for your printing project? Ask an AlphaGraphics Pittsburgh expert! We factor paper stock into every print project consultation to make sure the end result meets your expectations. We know how each stock performs, the best way to print on them and the results you can expect to see.

We can provide design samples to help inspire your next project and lead to the best paper decision. There’s also the option of hard proofs. These are always a good idea when you need to see a physical sample of your work before it runs, so you’re certain of the outcome.

When you need printing in Pittsburgh, AlphaGraphics is here to help—right down to choosing the paper you print on. Reach out at 412.261.1300 or use our contact us form to get started today.

Need help with your next project? Let’s get started!