What is the Difference between Uncoated and Coated Paper Stock?

Coated vs Uncoated Paper Stock

One of the biggest questions asked by those interested in printing revolves around the question of what's the best print product. This question is especially popular among individuals that are not familiar with paper stocks. One of the most common questions asked by customers is: should I opt for coated or uncoated card stock for my print design? Can I select Glossy or Matte business cards? And a host of related questions. Most times, confusion spans from the underlying similarity between coated and uncoated paper stocks. However, there are unique differences between the two. The most essential centers on how the ink lies on the paper. For one, coated stocks have an extra layer created during manufacturing; this layer makes the paper less porous. In this post, you'll find out the contrast between coated and uncoated paper stock and factors you should consider to make an informed decision.

Coated Paper Stock

Coated paper stock are those kinds of paper stock with a matte or glossy finish. They are usually smooth, and has a somewhat slight shine, but sometimes with a high shine. Moreover, the coated paper makes colors appear brighter than that of uncoated paper. One great thing about coated paper stock is its impressive resistance to wear and tear, water, and dirt. This kind of stock keeps your printed materials crisp and professional when compared to uncoated stock. In case you're wondering why colors appear brighter and why coated paper stock is more resistant to wear, it is because coated stock absorbs less ink than the uncoated one. This kind of stock is excellent for those who love sharp and crisp images. The reason being that ink stays on top of the paper. Besides, The more ink absorbs into a stock, the less sharp the photos appear. Coated paper is widely favored among photographers, restaurants, designers, and artists because it sheds the best possible light on their images. Because coated paper stock makes a printed material more shiny and bright, it is commonly used for brochures, glossy photos, booklets, and the likes. The coating regulates how the paper absorbs ink; this prevents the ink from bleeding.  Another noteworthy thing about coated stock is that in addition to matte and gloss finishes, unique kinds of this stock are available with silk and velvet finishes as well. However, you should have it at the back of your mind that coated stock is often difficult to write on; as it prevents owners from making notes on printed pieces. We advise that if glare is a concern for you, do well to choose a matte coated stock since high gloss stock is very reflective. Asides gloss and matte finishes, coated papers are papers that do have semi-gloss finishes. Note that a paper does not have to be "glossy" to be regarded as coated. Interestingly, the coated paper has an agent that's added to its surface to improve its brightness, smoothness, and other printing properties. After all, once the coating is applied to the paper, the rollers help to polish the paper.  The rollers also help to fill in the tiny spaces between the fibers; this gives it a flat and smooth surface.

What is Uncoated Paper Stock?

Due to the fibers of the wood and other fillers, uncoated papers (for example, copier paper), are quite rough when compared to the coated stocks. Uncoated stocks are usually bonds, offsets, cards, newsprint, and a host of others. They are typically porous, and this makes them soak up more substantial quantities of ink. Moreover, uncoated paper stocks do dry faster to the touch of ink, as the ink is mostly absorbed into the porous paper. However, it is easier to write on them as the surface accepts the ink more than a coated stock. Uncoated stock mainly absorbs more ink because it’s not as smooth as coated paper. Uncoated stock is popularly used for printing envelopes and business letterhead for an exquisite and classy look. More examples of uncoated stocks are real estate brochures, restaurant menus, business stationery, school bookmarks, and also college booklets. As a print and paper enthusiast, you should know that colors look prominently different on uncoated vs. coated paper. They usually appear darker than they do on coated stock. Also, images on uncoated stock are not as sharp. As a rule of thumb, know that because it is the thicker the paper, it tends to absorb more ink gets and images also appear a tad bit fuzzier. However, the uncoated paper stock has its advantages. One of such is that you’ll notice that when creating printed materials with effects like foil stamping, the uncoated stock rewards the user with higher contrast. It also makes the foil stand out more. In fact, extra-thick stocks in products like the ModCard or painted edge business cards are mostly uncoated. And because the ink doesn’t sit on the uncoated paper, it is excellent for printing forms and materials to write on. Because uncoated paper stock is very absorbent;  images printed on them are usually softer and less crisp. Moreover, uncoated papers are excellent options for novels or books that you will be writing in. Its rough texture also makes it an excellent option for some art books. Uncoated paper is usually referred to as bond paper. They are perfect for printed materials that need to be written on. Common examples of uncoated paper you’ll find around includes student workbooks, letterhead, envelopes, and many more. If you are a fan of a more natural, earthy, or organic look for your printed piece, the uncoated stock paper is excellent for you. 

Coated vs. Uncoated Paper Stock: How to make your decision

It may be tasked to make a well-informed decision on either coated or uncoated paper stock. This is why some factors should influence your decision.

Which Is best for you?

If you desire a fresh, and contemporary feel, the coated paper will help achieve this. Besides,  its low ink absorbency will help make your artwork a lot more vivid. So, if you want a sharp image that will visibly showcase your work and that of your company’s. 

On the other hand, the uncoated paper offers a more traditional feel, which is relatively popular at the moment. It also adds a fresh, crisp, and vintage feel to your product; and also rewarding you with vibrant images and a more raw paper texture.


Another factor to consider is the use of both paper stock. For one, coated Gloss papers are commonly used for leaflets, flyers, and posters for events, and they are also great for gigs and club advertising, and any other material that will show off your photography skills! Besides, coated silk papers are also excellent for leaflets and flyers. These are mostly used for businesses because they give a more subtle, professional, and sophisticated touch.  Alternately, uncoated pulp, and bond papers are excellent informal situations. So if you want to make letterheads and compliment slips, this paper stock is your best bet. In present times, uncoated paper is slowly becoming mainstream for music, arts, and fashion advertising.

Advantages of uncoated 

Uncoated paper has come a long way. It was basically the only choice available until the 1860s. From this period, layers of clay, binders, and additives were used to improve the printability and appearance of paper stock. However, some profound advantages of uncoated paper are amazing to those who believe high-end printing could only be achieved with coated papers. This paper stock has become relatively popular because of a new organic trend to colors and the growth of the printing industry. If you don't need a high gloss finish that a coated sheet gives, uncoated papers offer a wide range of options. After all, natural finishes for uncoated paper include eggshell, vellum, smooth, and super smooth or ultra-smooth. One primary reason why people would go for an uncoated paper stock is that it's less expensive. Another advantage of uncoated paper is that it has a lot of stock availability, especially in smaller sizes. Aside from having more dimensions; it also varying colors and textures. Although the coated paper may seem sort of cold, it has a classy feel. But an uncoated paper stock feels warmer and more personal. Also, uncoated paper stocks reward users with a soft feel; while coated ones are mostly smooth. Contrary to uncoated paper, coated paper comes in a narrow range of colors, like white and ivory, and has only limited finishes including satin, matte, dull, or gloss.

Why opt for Coated Paper Stock?

Although we’ve seen some mouthwatering advantages of an uncoated paper, this does not mean they are perfect, or they will win the hearts of many. One of the problems of uncoated paper is they are quite bulky and stiff. On the other hand, the coated paper offers much more print quality and a higher value perception to users or customers. Because coated paper has a smooth printing surface, it is easy for ink and toner to lie uniformly. It also provides more excellent contrast and fidelity. Your print image will steal the show on coated paper. It is evident that coated will print better than uncoated paper because it has a coating on the top side of the sheet. With this, the ink will stay right on the surface. Get the best price for card stock online here.


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