An Ode to Uncoated Paper

May 16, 2013

Let’s talk about uncoated paper and why it’s my favorite. Now, you may be thinking that shiny glossy coated paper is far superior, but this is not the case. Most people, including clients and some colleagues, often assume that the silky glossy sheen adds a level of elegance to printed paper pieces making it an ideal choice for business cards and marketing brochures.\r\n\r\nIts smooth finish varies from an eggshell to glossy texture. Sure, super-super glossy paper can get pretty fancy and coated paper includes its own roundup of funky textures. Coated paper is pretty cool when we’re talking about synthetic, tear-resistant and water-resistant papers. Imagine the endless possibilities of tear-free or water-resistant paper. Got your wheels turning now I bet!\r\n\r\nNow, let’s introduce why I love uncoated paper all the same and if not more. First and foremost, uncoated paper comes in all the pretty colors and textures. Do you have any idea how fantastic it is to use double thick and duplex papers? Just picture it—crisp white on one side and bright yellow on the other side. Both in a matching column finish. Even better, picture a newly offset printed or letterpress printed business card on a super thick 130# stock of cover paper. This is not your grandmother’s flimsy sheet.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nTo truly understand the difference between coated and uncoated paper, and why I love uncoated, we have to cover the basics. Let’s start with coated paper shall we?\r\n\r\nCoated Paper:\r\n\r\nCoated paper is made with a surface coating that allows for maximum smoothness and ink holdout during the printing process. Coated paper comes in a variety of finishes from dull to matte to gloss. There is even a cast coated finish which is a high-gloss finish, created by casting the coated paper against heated and polished steel drums. This effect creates an ultra-polished look—almost resembling the look of crystal clear water and the feel of silky smooth butter!\r\n\r\nCoated paper is ideal for direct mail pieces, real estate collateral and conference leave-behinds.\r\n\r\nUncoated Paper:\r\n\r\nUncoated paper is manufactured exactly the same as coated (don’t worry—I’ll cover the exact process at a later time), but contains no surface coating. Because the paper is not given a final coated finish, it offers more flexibility in terms of colors, textures and finishes.\r\n\r\nUncoated paper is available in a wide variety of finishes including smooth, super smooth, linen, laid, column, vellum, felt and even with a deckled edge.\r\n\r\nSee what I mean? Uncoated kind of rocks.\r\n\r\nIt provides a superior absorption of ink, offering a beautiful finish with bold colors. It can hold more ink and therefore it can produce a richer palette. Uncoated papers are an ideal substitution for coated—especially when looking to stand out from the crowd.\r\n\r\nI especially love uncoated papers for corporate identity pieces, luxury brochures, correspondence and any other unique printed pieces. I essentially love using uncoated paper for anything that should be held with admiration, such as a letterpress printed holiday card or colorful brochure boasting a gorgeous layout and creative typesetting. Equally important, anything that will be written on post-printing, such as a conference agenda, is generally best printed on [fairly inexpensive] uncoated paper.

Sarah Jane Dunaway