Difference between Coated Paper and Uncoated Paper

Difference between coated paper and uncoated paper

Paper comes in many different qualities, texture, weight and appearance. Choosing the right paper for your job can be daunting, particularly if you have little knowledge about the different paper types. Nevertheless, it is extremely important that you choose the right paper type for your printing job to get the best printing results.

Choosing the paper not just depends on the application but also on its use and how and who are going to handle it and also the conditions in which the paper will stay or will be exposed to, like water, moisture, temperature, etc. The paper type plays as much role as the weight and quality of the paper in getting the desired printing results. 

Coated and uncoated paper are the two major types of paper used in the printing industry. Each paper type has its pros and cons and suits different applications. A paper type that may be best for one type of application may be inappropriate for some other application. So make sure to get your hands on the right paper type for the finest and desired results.

Uncoated Paper:

Uncoated paper as the name specifies has no coating or top layer on the surface of the paper. The natural fibers of the paper are uncovered and exposed which makes ink absorption easier. The uncoated paper type is usually a little rough in texture and does not have a glare on the surface. The paper is porous and therefore absorbs more ink.

More ink absorption makes the color appear dull. Images printed on an uncoated paper are softer in appearance and not that sharp. Ink on uncoated paper also takes a longer time to dry. It is a great paper for novels, magazines, art books, envelopes, stationery and as a writing material. However, uncoated paper is less resistant to external conditions and needs to be handled carefully.

Coated paper:

Coated paper has a chemical coating or layer on top of the natural fibers making it less porous and less absorbent. The coating on the paper can be of different types like glossy, matte, silk, etc. The coated paper can range from being dull to super glossy. The ink on this type of paper does not get absorbed much and stays on the surface making the colors appear brighter and vibrant. 

The images printed on a coated paper are sharp and crisp. The paper itself also has a brighter and smoother appearance. Coated paper is sturdier and resistant to moisture, dirt, wear and tear making it durable and makes it last longer. However you cannot write on it. It is a great choice for brochures, photos, booklets, etc. 

The two papers are completely different and must be understood thoroughly to make the right choice. Let’s have a look at the difference between the two:

Coated and Uncoated Paper Differences | Wallace Carlson Printing
Source: wallacecarlson.com

Manufacturing process of Coated and uncoated paper :

The major difference between the two paper types is the method of their production. Wood fibers are used in the manufacturing process of the paper. The wood fibers are converted into pulp by soaking them in water and the pulp is then sprayed onto a mesh which travels a distance to remove excess water and bind the pulp. The output is then passed through rollers to dry them. The paper obtained in this raw state is uncoated paper.

To manufacture coated paper, the raw paper undergoes further process. The tiny spaces between the fibers are filled up using different chemicals and then passed through high pressure rollers to make them smoother and glossier. This additional process makes the coated paper denser but thinner than an uncoated paper produced from the same pulp weight.  

Image output:

All About Paper: What are the Differences Between Coated and Uncoated Stock? - Inkable Australia
Source : inkable.com

The image output on coated paper is crisp and sharp because of the brighter color appearance. The white of a coated paper is much brighter and therefore, the contrast between the printed image and whitespace is starker making the image look sharper and vibrant. The details on the image are much clearer and visible on a coated paper. A coated paper will give a cool and sophisticated look.

On the contrary, an uncoated paper will offer a warm and professional look to the printing result. The contrast between the picture and whitespace is not very stark and therefore, the image will not pop out and appear dull. Attention to minor details of the image is also less.

Effect on the printed color:

Source: printingforless.com

The color of the paper greatly affects the output of the printing process. The slight change in the paper color may seem insignificant but it affects the appearance of the printing result. The same color ink on a yellowish paper will appear very different from a bright white paper. Coated and uncoated paper may have the same color but because of the change in the quality and texture the appearance of the color may vary.

For lighter colors the difference between the colors may be apparent but not that significant and a novice may not notice it but for darker shades the appearance of the same color may be completely different. A coated paper does not absorb or soak in more ink and the ink settles on the surface of the paper, making the color appear brighter, deeper and vibrant. On the other hand, an uncoated paper does not have any material on the surface of the paper and is porous, making ink absorption easier. Since, the ink gets absorbed in the paper the color appears to be dull and not much bright as compared to that on a coated paper.

Cost of Coated and Uncoated paper:

It is a general misconception that coated paper is expensive as compared to uncoated paper because of the additional chemical coating on it. But that’s not true. A high quality uncoated paper may be quite expensive as compared to a coated paper. The main reason for uncoated paper being expensive is that it requires a greater ratio of fiber per pound in comparison to coated sheets. 

High quality uncoated paper machines are also required to operate slowly to cater and adjust minute changes that may affect the quality and appearance of the paper. A coated paper can be produced rapidly thus reducing the manufacturing cost.


Coated Paper VS Uncoated Paper | AB Print GroupAB PRINT GROUP LTD

Source: abprintgroup.com

Coated paper is best for use in printing photos, leaflets, brochures, and printing jobs that require a brighter and glossy appearance. High-end catalogues, magazines, promotional letters, postcards, packaging, etc. are some applications where coated paper is used.

Uncoated paper is used for more professional applications like letterheads, forms, resumes, documents, newsletters, envelopes, notepads, or any application where you need to write on it. 


Choosing the right paper type for your printing task can be a nightmare if you do not have knowledge of the different paper types. Understating the paper quality and its application will make the printing task easier for you and will also help you obtain the best results. So, choose the right paper type and enjoy the best results!  

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