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What's the difference between Coated and Uncoated Paper Stock?

The majority of print projects are printed on coated or uncoated paper. Although one type isn’t favoured over the other, understanding the differences and when to use them can make all the difference to the quality of your print.

Read on to find out more about the differences between coated and uncoated paper stock and when you should use them in your print projects.


What is coated paper?

Coated papers are paper stocks with glossy, silk or matte finishes. Projects printed onto coated paper are often smooth and have a sleek, professional shine.

Coated stock has a low ink absorbency, leading to sharper images and more vivid colours than uncoated paper. As this paper stock is coated, it’s much more resistant to wear and tear, keeping your printed projects looking crisp and professional for longer.

What is coated paper used for?


Coated paper stocks are available in a variety of finishes, which all have different uses:

Gloss - Coated paper with a glossy finish is used for flyers, leaflets, takeaway menus, posters and any print where you’d want the colours to ‘pop’.

It’s perfect for showcasing photographs in their best possible light, so is also a a popular choice for Graphic Designers, Photographers and Artists.

Gloss paper used to be the most popular choice, but it has been superseded by silk papers which account for around 90% of the coated paper market.

Silk - Coated silk paper is often used for flyers and leaflets, brochures, high-end magazines and wedding stationery. On silk paper, the colours remain vibrant, with a reduced shininess.

Silk coated stock is a popular choice amongst businesses as it gives a feeling of sophistication and quality.

Matte – Matte coated paper is the ideal choice for branded calendars and journals. Matte paper stock provides a softer appearance than gloss coated paper, making it great for enhancing designs with a subdued colour scheme.

If you’re looking to use speciality finishing options within your print, such a foil stamping or laminations, it’s recommended that you opt for coated paper as their surface works well with techniques such as these.

Matte paper is quite similar to silk paper and they are often seen as interchangeable.

What is uncoated paper stock?

Uncoated papers are paper stock with no coating. When compared to coated stocks, they often feel textured and rougher. As there is nothing to cover the natural fibres of the paper, it soaks up ink, meaning they have a softer, warmer appearance. Images printed onto uncoated paper usually appear less crisp.

The paper has a tactile feel and gives an impression of prestige and elegance. Uncoated papers have several finishes to them including smooth, linen, laid, vellum and super smooth. The smoother the sheet of paper, the more even the ink lay.

What is uncoated paper used for?

Uncoated business cards

Uncoated stock is frequently used for letterheads, compliment slips, loyalty cards, books, notepads, as it is the easiest to write on. It has increasingly used for brochures and leaflets.

Uncoated papers have an inherent tactility, making them popular with businesses that operate in the education, non-profit and environmental sectors.

Uncoated paper works well with pressure-based printing techniques such as embossing, debossing and foil stamping.

Unsure of what paper to use?

Paper is often quoted by its weight – often shortened to gsm. However, this isn’t always a good guide to the thickness of the paper. A coated paper will be much thinner than an uncoated paper of the same weight. Therefore it is helpful to see a sample of the material to avoid being disappointed when you receive your printed item.

Deciding which paper to use for your printed marketing collateral may seem like an overwhelming challenge. But, at Soar Valley Press, we’re here to help. Our team of experts can help you with every stage of your project, recommending a paper stock that’s suited to your needs and budget.

Contact us by calling 0116 259 9955 or email

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