Not every sheet of paper is created equal. Did you know that paper comes in different finishes as well as different textures? You may see printers quoting on “glossy” or “matte” paper. Other than the fact that glossy means shiny, what do these names mean? And is there any other differences in the paper?
These are fantastic questions! Know that if you have asked these question in the past, or are perhaps asking them for the first time today, you are not alone!
Let’s take a brief overview of what “coating” means, and dive into some examples.
Paper finishes generally fall into two categories: coated and uncoated. When we talk about a paper that is coated, it means that a thin layer of a compound has been placed on the outside of the paper during its production. Uncoated means, well, that no coating has been added during the paper production process.
Like paint finishes such as eggshell, or smooth that you can get at the paint store, the coating on paper can come in different textures as well. Some of the most popular that we deal with are: gloss, satin, and matte.
These three coatings fall into a spectrum where gloss has the most sheen (shine) and matte has the least and satin hangs out in the middle. This does not necessarily mean that gloss has a thicker coating, however.
The most important thing to note about coated papers is how vibrantly they print. The coating on paper creates a thin barrier which the ink cannot penetrate into the paper below. This keeps the ink on the surface of the paper, and thus, makes it more vibrant to our eyes. The coating type will also play a slight role in how vibrantly we perceive the print due to the amount of light being reflected off the surface.
Coated papers can also come with one side coated (C1S) or two sides coated (C2S). Generally speaking one side will have the sheen and the reverse will be left in its natural, uncoated state.
It’s also very important to note that some printers do not work well with coated stock. Inkjet printers, because of the liqued state of the colour, do not dry quickly on certain finishes. So, if you would like to print the addresses off on those beautiful metallic envelopes on your printer at home, you may not get the clean, unsmeared results you are looking for.
Uncoated papers also come with a few different surface options, including smooth, and textured. However, these surfaces are created by how the paper is pressed during the production process, and not by adding a layer of another substrate. A smooth surface means that the paper has been pressed strongly (think of it as a huge iron for paper), where textured papers may have no pressing (like homemade paper) or may even be pressed to create that texture that we love!
Because uncoated papers do not contain a barrier between the ink and the paper itself, this means that the ink dries as it absorbs into the paper. When ink gets pulled further into the paper, we perceive it as looking much less vibrant as we would see on a coated stock.
This is a really important thing to remember. Uncoated paper stock will always print slightly duller than what you will expect from looking at digital proofs. This along with the other results that come with printing on textured papers, give the uncoated stock a classic and old feel that many couples just love (you can read our blog post about textures here)
Because uncoated paper allows the ink to be pulled into the surface of the paper, it is a much better choice for printing on home inkjet printers. So, if you want to do address your envelopes on your home printer, an uncoated stock is what we would reccommend!
Whether you pick coated or uncoated stock for your invitations and other stationery is totally up to your personal preferences as a couple. We are happy to provide many paper options from either camp, and we would love to help you find a stock that is perfect for you!