What Is The Difference Between Coated And Uncoated Paper?

Ann Turbeville
May 20, 2024

Learn more about paper to get the most out of you print project

Coated vs Uncoated Paper

When starting to plan a print project it is important to know what kind of paper you would like to use. Your printer will likely ask if you have a preference of coated or uncoated stock. At this point, you might be asking yourself; “What is the difference?”

We sat down with Drake Ryman of Anchor Paper to get the scoop on the difference between coated and uncoated paper.

According to Drake the difference is simple, all paper starts the same. Coated paper just has a coating on it. All paper is porous even though it may feel smooth. The coating acts as a varnish to help fill in the pores. Think of it like putting varnish on a wooden deck. You put varnish on a wooden deck to make the texture smooth and protect it from the elements. Paper isn’t much different. Coated paper is smoother, absorbs less ink, generally has a sharper printed image, and is more durable.

This doesn’t mean that all uncoated papers are not smooth. A technological advancement in the paper industry called calendaring has been used to create ultra smooth uncoated papers.

Knowing The Details Of Your Project Will Help You Select The Right Paper

Consider these 4 factors when deciding whether to use coated or uncoated paper:

  • The Purpose or Function of Your ProjectKnow what your project will be used for. Will your audience need to fill it out or just read it? Some coated papers can be difficult to write on.
  • The Desired Aesthetic and DesignConsider how coated and uncoated papers will look with your overall design. The type of paper can change the look and feel of a piece. For example, sometimes using an uncoated heavier weight textured paper can give a more prestigious appeal to a design.
  • How your piece will be distributedAre you handing your piece out or are you sending it in the mail? Know how that coating might affect the mail process.
  • Your BudgetCoated paper isn’t necessarily more or less expensive than uncoated paper. It all depends on what you decided you want for weight, texture, and feel. Knowing what you can spend will help narrow down your choices.

Work with your print consultant to find the best solution for your project.


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