March 24, 2022

Coated vs. Uncoated Substrates

There are many different factors to consider when deciding on which paper to print on for your project. Some things to consider would be the aesthetic, the desired finish, the images/colors you will be using, the amount of text required, and the overall functionality.  

For example, the end color of your project will vary based on the type of paper you choose to print on. Additionally, the finish of your paper can also affect the legibility of your text. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure that you understand the differences, strengths, and drawbacks of both coated and uncoated paper. Read on to learn which paper will be the best fit for your next project. 

While there are a lot of factors to consider, our paper experts at Lahlou can help you pick the perfect stock for your next project.

What is the difference? 


‍Coated paper has been treated with a coating compound, leaving behind a smooth and sleek finish. You can think of it as acting like a pane of glass or a paint primer. The coating acts like a barrier and restricts the amount of ink that is absorbed into the paper. This allows the ink to sit evenly on top, making it the perfect option when printing sharp and complex images. Typically, this paper is used when wanting to showcase vibrant colors or to give off a high-end appearance. 


‍Gloss, Satin, Matte, Dull, and more.

Commonly used for: 

Coated paper is best used for photography, magazines, catalogs, book covers, sell sheets, and other advertising materials. The reason for this is that coated stocks offer excellent ink holdout and allow for a crisp and sharp image. It's best used for images with fine detail because it offers greater contrast. For marketing materials that are to be shipped like direct mail, coated stocks offer greater resistance to dirt, moisture, and wear and tear. It also performs well with areas of heavy solid colors or metallic inks like the ones we offer through our digital presses.

Issues with coated stocks:

Coated stocks do not take well to being written on, so any materials that are meant to be actively used should not be printed on coated stocks. If you have materials that are very heavy on text, it may be a better idea to choose an uncoated stock due to the gloss of the paper creating a glare that can make the page hard to read. Think of the material used on books, matte without any gloss coating.

Although coated stocks offer a sleek finish, they often require an additional coating to protect the surface from scratching and fingerprints.




Uncoated paper does not have this coating and as a result, its finish is porous. This means that it acts like a sponge and soaks up more ink. Uncoated paper will also tend to have a textured finish to it, making it best suited for projects that are meant for writing. Because of this distinct feel, it can also help to create a sense of “real”. Think mom and pop over large corporation. Typically, this paper is used in projects in the educational, non-profit, and environmental sectors. 


Linen, Laid, Vellum, Smooth, Super Smooth, and more.

Commonly used for: 

Uncoated paper is best used for materials that are meant to be functional. Business cards, envelopes, brochures, invitations, tactical packaging applications, and other stationery needs. They work best for folding and for pressure-based printing techniques as well, such as embossing, debossing, letterpress, and foil stamping. They tend to have a softer and warmer appearance, making it an excellent choice for projects where you want to express a sense of authenticity and responsibility.

Issues with coated stocks:

While uncoated stocks have many benefits, there are some drawbacks that might keep you from choosing them for your printed piece. Due to the lack of coating, images with fine detail or mid-tone colors can come out looking "muddy" thanks to the ink being absorbed into the paper instead of lying on top. The same issue with absorption can affect the overall look of heavy solid and metallic printed areas leaving a spotted look. Lastly, if you're on a time crunch, uncoated stocks may not be for you. In many cases, uncoated stocks can require additional drying time due to the level of absorption into the paper.






We would love to work with you

Want to talk? We are ready to help you take your business to the next level.

Contact Us