What’s the different between coated paper Vs uncoated paper? How will either affect the finished look of the printing job?

Coated Paper Vs Uncoated Paper and Board start life as much of the same. The process of making paper is pretty universal, by bleaching, compressing, drying a mixture of fibres, wood pulp and recycled paper. The dried material is then treated and wrapped onto large rolls known as reels. If you’ve ever seen the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) of the fight and escape within the web printer’s factory, you’ll see finished paper reels in this scene.

Coated paper

A board are sheets manufactured with a china clay calcium carbonate or polymer coating applied to the surface of uncoated sheets. Depending on the quality, this process may be repeated a number of times to refine the smoothness of the final sheet.

The paper is finally fed between rollers to increase the smoothness. The finished coated paper products are commonly known as: gloss art paper, silk paper and matt paper.

Coated papers and boards have a smooth uniformed surface to give a slick professional finish, which is exactly the finish you will find on most magazines on a newsagent shelf, club flyers, take-away menus and brochures.

When used for printing the ink on coated paper sits on the surface and is not absorbed, it dries giving clarity of fine detail, especially with images.

You cannot easily write on this surface to make notes due to the coating on the surface. Fountain pen ink wont dry, nor will a pencil work, so you will be limited to ballpoint pens at best.

Uncoated paper

Uncoated paper is a more traditional material and  known as pulp, bond, offset and uncoated.

When used in printing, the ink is absorbed into the fibres of the uncoated paper, since the material is porous without any coating like that of its coated competitor. The finished result is a rustic look and less vibrant compared to coated paper, especially in the reproduction of images.

There are however so some very good quality uncoated sheets available at a premium which give superior detailed printing results, however the best sheets come at a premium.

Pump and Offset boards give the feeling of an honest, genuine, more personalised finish. Uncoated marketing material is now common amongst those looking for a natural look, it has made a big come back due to its great touch and feel.

Since the surface is porous you can use uncoated paper to write on using fountain pen ink, pencil and ballpoint pens, etc. This is why all stationery such as letterheads, compliment slips, note pads and RSVP cards are printed on uncoated paper.

Both types of printing paper greatly affect how your design looks when finished, so think how you want your result to come across to your audience. Is it good to discuss your Coated Paper Vs Uncoated Paper and Board options with a commercial printer before proceeding with a large project.

Coated and uncoated paper are both available in paper and also board weights. To understand more about which weight is right for your printing requirements, see our article Paper weight comparison for printing. Paper weights explained

Depending on whether your literature is produced use a digital or litho process can vary the results. We discuss Digital Printing Vs Litho Printing here.

Considerations should also be given to the way colour can be influenced by the paper or board you choose as briefly mentioned here.

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