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Paper 101: The Different Types of Paper Finishes

close up of paper with different paper finishes

What Are the Different Paper Finishes?

Paper comes in a range of finishes, each with their own characteristics and ideal uses. We hope this guide will help educate you on what each finish is best used for and how each one can print so that you can choose the right finish for your next printing project.

  • Gloss – Paper that has a gloss finish has a high sheen look to it and is very smooth. This gives you very crisp and bright images, making it an excellent choice for color printing. An example of when you would want to use a gloss paper would be for artistic prints because the colors will appear more vibrant. Keep in mind that gloss finish papers are best when you are wanting to print something with minimal or no text. Some find the high reflection of glossy paper makes it hard to read text.
  • Dull – A dull finished paper is smooth and has a low shine to it. Dull finished paper is great for projects that have photos and color but also have a lot of text, like brochures, catalogs, and mailers.
  • Satin – Satin finish paper is typically between gloss and dull for sheen. Like dull, it is suitable for projects that have a lot of text. And like gloss coated paper, vibrant colors and photos reproduce well on it.
  • Matte – Matte finish paper is a coated paper that has no gloss. Colors reproduce well but will look more flat due to the softer finish. It is the thickest sheet by basis weight among the coated sheets, which can make it suitable for mailing postcards. A benefit of matte paper is that fingerprints are also not as noticeable when it is handled in comparison to gloss or satin finish papers.
  • Smooth – As implied by the name, a smooth finish paper is very smooth visually and to the touch. It is often made with a surface treatment that makes colors pop.  A smooth finish is used for a wide range of projects including postcards, greeting cards, catalogs, and business collateral.
  • Laid – A laid finish paper is one of the oldest finishes and has two directions of texture, called the laid and the chain. The texture is created by a special roller (called a Dandy) rolling over the surface of the paper at the beginning of the paper making process. This type of finish is commonly used for book covers, brochures, and stationary.
  • Linen – A linen finish paper has a texture that mimics that of linen fabric. This texture is achieved by an embossing process that’s done after the paper is made. Linen paper is typically a more expensive option and is a great choice for a luxurious or elevated look such as for wedding invitations and high-end packaging.
  • Vellum – Vellum paper is a subtle texture, making it suitable for printing images and colors while providing a more pleasing tactile feel. It is often used for catalogs and books.
  • Felt – Felt texture can be made at the beginning of the paper making process or as an emboss after the paper is made. It has a lovely, handcrafted look to it. Felt paper has a pronounced, soft finish that embosses beautifully. It’s a great choice for book cover, presentation folders, and high-end packaging.

We Have All Kinds of Finished Paper

Picking out paper does not need to be a hard task. Paper has been one of our specialties since opening in 1930 and we have an assortment of finishes of paper in a range of colors and sizes located in our sample rooms. So let us help you pick the right paper for your printing project the next time you have questions! To learn more about our Sample Room click here.

Learn More

Let us help you during your next printing project. For more information on the different types of paper, contact your local WCP account manager or customer service team or visit our website for resources like our paper calculator. We’d be happy to set up a consultation to discuss the best paper options to meet the goals of your next upcoming project and business. Give us a call today at (877) 398-3030.

Sources: Paper Partners

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