Surface and aesthetics

One brand key you’re missing

Coated paper’s surface value is easy to miss—or misunderstand.
This story is part of our series about coated paper finishes, special effects and consistency. View other stories in the series or subscribe to Pop from Sappi today to receive an email when we post more.

Why should you care about paper surface and aesthetics? Good question.

Simply put: The surface chemistry and aesthetic qualities of a paper determine the fidelity of image reproduction, its versatility and quality range.

Simply-simply put: These factors can really influence your completed project. The paper you choose to print on makes a big difference in brand consistency and final cost.

Busting the coated paper myths

Coated paper offers more versatility and far greater print quality than uncoated competitors. It’s regarded to have the most promising surface and aesthetic qualities for large, consistent print jobs and is the most adaptable paper type for achieving creative excellence within budget.

But often times uncoated paper is still seen by some as the better option. Why?

Myth #1:

Uncoated paper is more versatile because nothing has been added to it yet, like a blank slate.


The coating enhances the surface and makes it more receptive to printing inks and special effect coatings.

The way printing inks sit on the surface of coated paper (with less absorption and more uniform holdout) makes it a better option for artistic flourish, like special effects created with unique inks, coatings and varnishes. Plus, coated paper can print higher resolution/ finer detail, a wider gamut of colors and an expanded tonal range. Your final prints will be more true to your visual team’s original on-screen design and imagery—something they’ll definitely thank you for.

Myth #2:

It’s difficult to control color when printing on glossy surfaces.


Image quality and color reproduction are much better on coated paper.

Uses less ink
Prints sharper images and finer details
Has less dot gain

Coated paper prints sharper images with finer details, while allowing the printer to produce brilliant, high-fidelity color with dense solids and smooth screen tints.

Common printing errors such as excessive dot gain, which makes printed images appear darker and less defined than intended, are less prevalent on coated papers. Also, coated paper uses less ink and allows ink to dry faster, saving you time and leaving less room for costly production errors.

Whether printing sheetfed or web, dot gain is more difficult to predict on uncoated papers. That important variable makes images printed on uncoated paper more challenging to color manage than projects that print on coated paper.

A more uniform paper surface allows the printer to consistently produce predictable, stable color images.

Myth #3:

Coated paper must be more expensive, because it looks and feels so rich.


They’re right about its tactile luxuriousness, but coated paper can save you money.

Coated paper can be significantly less expensive than uncoated paper. A premium smooth uncoated sheet may cost as much as 170 percent more than a comparable coated sheet, such as Sappi’s McCoy premium sheet. An uncoated opaque sheet can cost more than 20 percent more than a comparable sheet, such as Sappi’s Opus.

Uncoated papers require a higher ratio of wood fiber per pound than coated, and wood fiber is the most expensive component of paper. And due to their size and speed, coated papermaking machines produce a far greater amount of paper than specialty uncoated machines—further reducing manufacturing costs.


Coated paper can be a brand’s MVP: Most Valuable Paper.