Matt vs Gloss

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Should I choose a matt or gloss finish for my prints?

Most printers will offer the option of a matt or gloss finish on their printed products. These primary options are a staple offering in the printing industry and would be relevant to a plethora of products ranging from flyers right through to vehicle wraps. Even promotional mugs now come in a choice of gloss or matt.

But which one should you choose?

First, let us outline what we mean by matt or gloss. On the most basic level, gloss is shiny and matt is not. But when printers start talking about semi-gloss, silk, uncoated, lamination and varnish, it can become confusing to know exactly what finish is most suited for you.

The first question you might ask is, which is better? Now there is no right or wrong answer here, as one does not necessarily last longer than the other, but one may be more appropriate for your application and more aligned with it suited to your brand. 

Let us look at some examples, by way of explanation:

Uncoated cards and papers

The most matt of the "matt" options would be an uncoated paper. This has a natural, almost tactile feel to it. It is the gold standard when it comes to business stationery such as letterheads, compliment slips and envelopes. Why? Because uncoated papers can be over printed in most desktop laser or inkjet printers, and because the natural absorbency of the stock accepts ink pen, pencil, rubber stamping, and so on.

Silk cards and papers

Okay great, you have decided that you would like a matt flyer so you think an uncoated card or paper is best? Not necessarily! Here you might prefer a slight sheen on your flyers and you'd ask for silk. This would provide the more typical feel of a flyer while the more satin sheen would give a light luxury feel to the print. Silk stocks are also very popular for booklets and brochures. 

Generally speaking, the use of uncoated stocks for marketing collateral such as flyers and brochures, would be popular amongst eco friendly organisations, or those with a rustic or even shabby chic vibe, owing not only to the natural feel of the paper, but also because uncoated papers require less processing and are by default more environmentally friendly. 

Matt lamination 

Now you think great, I'd like a matt laminated business card because lamination will provided added longevity to your print. But how matt is that? Well it is very matt, but very different to an uncoated card. In this case, the lamination has an ultra smooth, gently synthetic feel to it

Gloss stock or gloss lamination

Gloss paper stocks are a top seller for most printers when it comes to flyers, but this would not be considered a high gloss and it certainly wouldn't give a reflective sheen. You can even write on it with ballpoint pen if you wanted to, but it would need to dry for a while to avoid smudging.

If you want a high gloss, then a simple lamination will not only protect your print but will provide visual enhancement. This is a popular option for booklet covers, the outer side of greeting cards, the front side of postcards and of course the ever popular finish for posters. But remember that light will reflect off gloss lamination so this should be avoided if you are laminating large format prints to be used as a backdrop or in a photographical setting. 

Traditionally, printed vehicle decals and wraps are gloss laminated, although matt does have a edgy feel to it and is quietly becoming popular on the roads.

Other finishes 

There are a whole host of speciality finishes available. Two very striking options are definitely worth a mention. 

Soft touch matt lamination would be similar to standard matt lamination in terms of the luxurious synthetic feel, but with the added benefit of a genuinely velvety feel that is mesmerising to the touch. 

UV varnish, on the other end of the spectrum, is about as glossy as it gets. With an almost shellac finish to it, this varnish can be applied as a flood to cover the entire print surface, or can be used creatively over individual aspects of the design, to highlight, enhance and create both visual and tactile intrigue. 

Now that you have a good grasp of the available finishes, you may still be left wondering what finish is best for you. This comes down to a personal preference, what complements the look and feel of your brand. There is no right or wrong answer, but now you should be in a stronger place to make the decision armed with your knew wealth of knowledge.

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