Learn How Coatings Can Make Your Materials Unique

Make your projects stand out!

There are many print finishing coatings and techniques that can make your project stand out. We explain how they are created and how they can be used for unique, eye-catching posters, packaging and advertising.

Why Add Coating?

Choosing a coating may seem like an extra step and extra expense, but the right coating can make an impression on your customer and enhance your brand. Here are a few reasons why choosing a coating can elevate your printed materials.


Depending on the piece and your audience, it can help with readability to add a matte or dull coating. The coating can reduce glare, making it easier to read or see fine detail in images. For pieces made to be used in places with bright overhead lighting (such as a hospital, tradeshow or office building) adding a dull or matte coating will make your piece easier to read.

Visual and Tactile Interest

Adding a coating or texture to a piece makes it more interesting, both to look at and to hold. Choose a coating that is subtle to imbue your piece with sophistication and gravitas. Or choose a bright and reflective coating to catch the eye of a prospective customer. No matter your brand, there is a coating or coating combination, that can make your printed material pop.


A coating is not just an effect, it can also offer protection from wear and tear. Whether it prevents the ink from running or becoming smudged from handling or shipping or preventing damage like rips and tears, a protective coating will keep your printed pieces looking good for a long time.

Coatings and How They Are Applied

There are a few basic coatings that can be applied to printed materials, either across the whole piece, which is known as flood or in a specific area, known as spot.


Varnish is a clear liquid that is applied to printed material in a similar process to ink and is available in gloss, dull or satin finishes. It can be applied as a flood or spot finish. Different finishes can be combined across a piece to create different textures across a piece. Varnish will make more of an impression on coated paper stock, rather than uncoated paper stock, where it will soak into the sheet.

Varnish is applied using a plate, similar to ink printing. Depending on the machinery, it can be done in a single pass (such as with our JETvarnish 3D Evolution press) or can be done in a second pass, allowing the ink to dry first. This technique is called dry trapping. Because of the additional time needed for machine setup and drying time, it can be more expensive.

UV Coating

A UV coating can create a high gloss or dull finish and can be applied flood or spot. It provides more protection than varnish coating and the gloss finish is shinier as well. It is thicker than a varnish coating and provides better protection. Fingerprints may be more apparent using high gloss UV, particularly on dark colors. For best results, use heavyweight paper stock.

UV coating uses a type of liquid finish that is cured on the press using ultraviolet light. It does not require any drying time after it comes off the press.


Aqueous coating creates the same kinds of finishes as varnish coating, but, as the name suggests, is water based. It can be applied in gloss, dull and satin finishes, but contrary to varnish, it is most cost-effective when applied across the whole sheet (or flood).

Aqueous coating does not require a plate for application, it is applied on the press. For spot applications, aqueous blankets are used. It does not require drying time after coming off the press. Because of its water-based nature, it is more environmentally friendly than varnish coating, though it is more expensive.


Lamination is thicker than any of the previous coatings and creates a rigid and sturdy piece. It can even be used to make pieces waterproof. Lamination is available in gloss or matte finish. Because of the thickness of the coating, it is not a good option for combining with textured paper stock, embossing or debossing.

Lamination is applied after printing as either a plastic film or liquid coating, pressing the substrate or paper stock between the film and is sealed. It must be applied to the whole piece.

Use Alone or With Other Print Finishing Embellishments

All of these coatings can be used alone or combined with other coatings or print finishing embellishments for a look that’s unique to your brand. If you’re interested in learning more about the wide variety of print finishing enhancements available from Embossing Plus, contact us or request a free sample book.

If you needed it yesterday you better contact us today!

We can turn even the most complex jobs around quickly – and without all the time and expense creating dies. Let’s talk about your project!