Is Matte or Glossy Better for Your Prints: Pros and Cons

Are you tired of trying to decide whether matte or glossy paper is better for your projects? Well, you are not alone. The debate has been ongoing for years, with both finishes having their own set of pros and cons. Some people prefer matte because of its smooth and non-reflective surface, while others prefer glossy because of its vibrant colors. However, which one is truly better?

When it comes to choosing between matte and glossy paper, there are several factors to consider. Apart from its finish, you should also think about its purpose. For example, if you are printing something for a professional presentation, matte may be the better option because it does not have any glare, making it easier to read. Meanwhile, glossy paper may be better for photographs because of its vibrant color reproduction. So, is matte or glossy better? The answer is not simple, and it mostly depends on what you will be using the paper for.

In the end, the decision is up to you. If you prioritize vibrancy and shine, then glossy paper may be your go-to. However, if you prefer a more elegant and understated look, then matte may be the better option. Ultimately, it all boils down to your preferences and the specific needs of your project. So, weigh your options carefully and choose what works best for you.

Importance of Finishing Options in Printing

Printing is an art that requires attention to detail and maintaining standards. The quality of the print material is much more than just the ink and paper. It involves other factors that affect the final look and feel, such as finishing options. Finishing options refer to the final steps used to enhance or protect the printed material. The finishing options in printing are various and can significantly impact the aesthetics and functionality of the final product.

Types of Finishing Options in Printing

  • Matte finish
  • Glossy finish
  • Soft-touch finish
  • UV coating
  • Lamination
  • Embossing and debossing

Effects of Finishing Options on the Printed Materials

The finishing options have significant effects on the printed material. For instance:

  • Matte finish: Reduces glare, adds a subtle texture to the material, and gives the impression of being luxurious, making it ideal for products such as annual reports, brochures, and business cards.
  • Glossy finish: Adds shine and depth, making the colors more vibrant and eye-catching, making them perfect for photography, advertisements, and magazines.
  • Soft-touch finish: Gives the printed material a velvety feel, making it comfortable to touch. Its commonly used in the packaging of cosmetics, electronic items, and promotional materials.
  • UV coating: The cured coating makes the material more durable and resistant to scratches, smudges, and fading. This enables the printed material to withstand rough handling like postcards, magazine covers, and book covers, among others.
  • Lamination: This adds a layer of plastic to the printed material, improving its durability. It’s used in business cards, restaurant menus, and educational resources.
  • Embossing and debossing: Add a three-dimensional texture that makes the material more attractive and tactile. It’s commonly used in luxury packaging, invitations, and business cards.


The finishing options have a crucial role in determining the final appearance and durability of printed materials. Whether someone wants to create a business card, booklet, or a brochure, the finishing options help to actualize one’s vision of a high-end publication. It’s good to have a grasp of the various finishing options and their differences to help one make an informed decision about which one to apply.

Finishing Options Pros Cons
Matte finish Reduces glare, luxurious, and subtle texture. Fingerprints and smudges show up quickly.
Glossy finish Enhances image sharpness and color contrast, reflects light well, and more durable. Hard to read text due to reflection and glare, smudges show up quickly, and may become brittle with age.
Soft-touch finish Feels soft and velvety to the touch, more durable than glossy finish, and adds to the stickability of the print material. Harder to see small text, susceptible to scratches, and fingerprints show up quickly.
UV coating Dries quickly, enhances color and contrast, highly resistant to scratches, and smudges, and is waterproof Harmful chemicals are used to cure the coating, may chip or crack with rough handling, and may require special disposal procedures.
Lamination Protects against moisture, stains, and scratches, enhances colors, and adds texture to the printed material. Makes the printed material stiff, susceptible to peeling or bubbling, hard to read small text, and may fade with time.
Embossing and debossing Creates a tactile texture, adds depth to the design, adds luxury and elegance to the printed material, and draws attention to important parts of the design. Difficult to reproduce and limited design flexibility.

This table summarizes the pros and cons of each finishing option, providing insight into what to expect from each option and how to choose the right one for your printing needs.

Characteristics of Matte and Glossy Coatings

Choosing the right coating for your printed material is just as important as the design itself. Two of the most commonly used finishes are matte and glossy coatings. Let’s take a closer look at their characteristics and what sets them apart.

Matte Coatings

  • Matte coatings have a flat, non-reflective finish.
  • They are great for printed materials that need to be easy to read, as they reduce glare and increase readability.
  • Matte coatings tend to be more scratch-resistant and less likely to show fingerprints than glossy coatings.
  • They are perfect for printed materials like brochures, business cards, and invitations, where a professional and understated look is desired.

Glossy Coatings

Glossy coatings, on the other hand, have a shiny, reflective finish.

  • This makes them ideal for printed materials that need a visual punch, such as magazines or marketing materials.
  • Glossy coatings tend to enhance the colors and contrast of images, giving them a vibrant, polished look.
  • They aren’t as scratch-resistant as matte coatings, and they can show fingerprints easily. However, they are easy to clean.
  • Glossy coatings are also great for printed materials that need to convey a sense of luxury or premium quality.

Choosing the Right Coating

Choosing between matte and glossy coatings depends on many factors, such as the type of printed material, the desired outcome, and the intended audience. If you’re creating professional or understated printed materials, go with a matte finish. If you want your material to stand out, opt for a glossy finish. For best results, it’s best to consult with your printer to get their recommendations on what finish will produce the best results for your specific needs.

Matte Coatings Glossy Coatings
Flat, non-reflective finish Shiny, reflective finish
Reduced glare and increased readability Enhanced colors and contrast
More scratch-resistant and less likely to show fingerprints Less scratch-resistant and more likely to show fingerprints
Perfect for professional and understated printed materials Great for printed materials that need to stand out

Ultimately, the coating you choose should complement the overall design and message of your printed material and appeal to your target audience. With this guide in mind, you can confidently choose between matte and glossy coatings to create high-quality printed materials that effectively communicate your message.

Pros and Cons of Using Matte or Glossy Coating

Choosing between matte and glossy coating can be a challenging decision. Both have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.

  • Matte Coating
    • Pros:
      • Matte coating reduces glare and reflection, resulting in better visibility in bright light conditions. This makes it an ideal choice for outdoor advertising and high-traffic areas where glare can be a problem.
      • The lack of shine in matte coating provides a more subtle and sophisticated appearance, making it an excellent choice for business cards, brochures, and invitations.
      • Matte coating is writable, which means that it can be easily written or printed on. This is ideal for projects that require personalization, such as wedding invitations or name tags.
    • Cons:
      • The absence of shine in matte coating can make colors appear dull and less vibrant. This can be an issue, especially in projects that require bright and bold colors, such as posters or flyers.
      • Matte coating is more susceptible to fingerprints and smudges compared to glossy coating. This can be a problem, especially for products that require frequent handling, such as business cards or brochures.
  • Glossy Coating
    • Pros:
      • Glossy coating provides a high-shine finish, making colors appear bolder and brighter. This makes it an ideal choice for projects that require vibrant and eye-catching colors, such as posters and flyers.
      • Glossy coating is more durable and resistant to scratches and scuffs compared to matte coating. This makes it an ideal choice for products that require frequent handling, such as business cards or brochures.
    • Cons:
      • Glossy coating is prone to glare and reflection, which can be a problem in bright light conditions. This can make it difficult to read or view the content of the product, especially outdoors.
      • Glossy coating is not writable, which means that it cannot be easily written or printed on. This can be a problem for projects that require personalization, such as wedding invitations or name tags.

Ultimately, the choice between matte and glossy coating depends on the specific needs and requirements of the project. Consider the intended use, audience, and desired aesthetic when choosing between the two coating options.

How to Determine Which Coating is Best for Your Project

As the age-old debate between matte and glossy coatings continues, it can be a daunting task to determine which coating is best suited for a project. However, there are certain factors that can help guide your decision-making process. Here are some essential considerations that can help you identify the right coating for your project:

  • Intended Use: The first and foremost factor that should be considered while choosing the coating is the intended use of the finished product. For instance, a brochure or packaging material that needs to look premium and flashy would typically benefit from a glossy coating, whereas a document or photograph that needs to be displayed for a longer period of time may require a matte coating as it is more resistant to fingerprint marks and scratches.
  • Lighting Conditions: The lighting conditions in which the products will be displayed play a crucial role in determining the coating type. Glossy coatings tend to reflect a lot of light, which can be perfect for displays with ample lighting. On the other hand, matte coatings don’t reflect light as much and can be ideal for low-light conditions. Therefore, if the project will be placed under bright lights or outside in direct sunlight, a glossy coating might be the best choice, while matte coatings work best for dimmer lighting conditions.
  • Design Elements: The design concepts that are being used in the project can also dictate which coating may be better suited. For example, glossy coatings tend to make colors appear brighter and more vivid, making them ideal for colorful designs. Meanwhile, muted color schemes are usually better suited for matte coatings as they provide a more subtle and sophisticated effect.

Additional Considerations

Apart from the above factors, paper quality, budget, and expected lifespan of the finished product should also be considered. Glossy coatings are typically more expensive, while matte coatings tend to be more pocket-friendly. Additionally, if the product is expected to last for a long time, a matte coating would be ideal since it is less likely to deteriorate over time. In contrast, a glossy coating may be more appropriate for short-term promotional pieces.

Comparison Table

Matte Glossy
Minimal glare and reflection High shine and reflectivity
Resists fingerprints Shows fingerprints easily
Has a soft texture and appearance Has a slick and smooth texture and appearance
Less vibrant and saturated colors More vibrant and saturated colors
Subtle and sophisticated look Bold and flashy look

Ultimately, choosing between matte and glossy coatings comes down to the specific project and its intended use. By keeping in mind the features and benefits of each, it’s possible to make an informed decision and choose the ideal coating that suits your unique purposes.

The Impact of Lighting on Matte and Glossy Surfaces

Lighting plays a crucial role in how a surface appears, particularly when it comes to matte and glossy finishes. Depending on the source, intensity, and angle of lighting, the perception and visual impact of these surfaces can vary greatly. In this article, we will explore the impact of lighting on matte and glossy surfaces, and how it affects their appearance and practicality in different contexts.

  • Reflections: Glossy surfaces are known for their reflective properties, which make them ideal for creating a sleek and polished effect. However, this also means that they can reflect glare, making them unsuitable for certain settings. For example, using glossy finishes on a wet floor or in a room with lots of natural light can create a hazardous or uncomfortable environment due to excessive glare.
  • Depth: Matte surfaces are known for their ability to absorb light, which makes them appear flatter and less reflective than glossy surfaces. However, this also means that they can create a muted effect and lack depth or dimension. In a poorly lit room or space, matte surfaces can appear dull and lifeless, detracting from the overall look and feel of the area.
  • Texture: Lighting can also highlight the texture of a surface by emphasizing its contours and patterns. Glossy surfaces tend to accentuate texture more than matte surfaces, as the reflection and shine can create highlights and shadows that emphasize the surface’s irregularities. However, in a well-lit environment, matte surfaces can also showcase their texture more clearly, creating a tactile and visually interesting effect.

When choosing between matte or glossy finishes, it is crucial to consider the lighting conditions of the setting in which they will be used. While both finishes have their unique advantages and disadvantages, the choice ultimately comes down to the desired vibe and practicality of the space. In a high-traffic area that requires slip resistance, a matte finish would be more practical, while a glossy finish is ideal for creating a polished, reflective effect in a formal setting.

Furthermore, combining matte and glossy finishes can create a visually striking contrast that can add depth and dimension to a space. For example, pairing glossy tiles on a backsplash with matte countertops can add visual interest and depth to a kitchen or bathroom.

Lighting Glossy Surface Matte Surface
Natural Light Reflects glare, creates a sleek and polished effect, highlights texture Appears dull and lifeless, does not reflect glare, absorbs light
Artificial Light Emphasizes shine and reflection, creates a polished effect, highlights texture Appearance can vary based on texture and the source of light, absorbs light

In conclusion, the impact of lighting on matte and glossy surfaces cannot be overstated. Lighting can enhance or detract from the visual appeal and practicality of these surfaces, making it crucial to consider the lighting conditions when choosing between these finishes. Whether you opt for one or the other, or a combination of both, understanding the impact of lighting is essential to creating a space that is both functional and visually striking.

How matte and glossy finishes affect color saturation

Color saturation refers to the intensity or purity of a color. When we say a color is highly saturated, it means that it is very bright and vivid. Matte and glossy finishes can affect color saturation in different ways.

  • Matte finishes: Matte finishes have a non-reflective surface that diffuses light, making colors look less vibrant. This is because the surface of matte prints scatters light in all directions, and the colors appear flatter and less vibrant. Matte finishes are ideal for designs that are text-heavy or have a lot of detail, as the ink dots don’t blend together as much as they do with glossy finishes. This makes the text easier to read and the details sharper.
  • Glossy finishes: Glossy finishes, on the other hand, have a reflective surface that makes colors appear more vibrant and high-contrast. Because the surface is smooth, the ink dots blend together, making colors appear brighter and richer in color. Glossy finishes are ideal for designs that have bold, vibrant colors or high-quality photos, as they can provide more depth and detail than matte finishes.

It’s important to note that different printers and materials will affect color saturation in different ways. The same design printed on different types of paper, for instance, will produce different results with the same finish. It’s essential to test prints on different materials before printing in bulk to ensure that color saturation is as expected.

Matte and Glossy Options for Different Printing Techniques

When it comes to printing, there are a lot of factors to consider to make sure you get the best quality output. One important aspect to consider is the type of finish you want for your print – matte or glossy. Both finishes have their benefits and drawbacks, and the choice ultimately depends on your personal preference and the purpose of your print.

Matte and Glossy Options for Different Printing Techniques

  • Lithographic Printing – This printing technique uses plates to transfer the image onto paper. For this technique, matte finishes are recommended as they provide better readability and less glare.
  • Digital Printing – This printing technology is used for short runs and delivers high-quality images. Both matte and glossy finishes are suitable for digital printing, but you should take note that printing on matte papers may result in slightly duller images.
  • Screen Printing – This technique is used to print on various surfaces such as banners, textiles, and plastics. Screen printing works best with glossy finishes because they enhance color vibrancy, contrast, and saturation. However, if you want a more subtle image, a matte finish may suit your needs better.

Benefits of Matte Finishes

Matte finishes are popular for their minimal glare and reflections, which make them ideal for prints that will be viewed under strong light. They are also ideal for prints that require a more subdued and natural appearance.

Matte finishes are also great for text-heavy prints. The lack of glare means that the text is more readable and easily seen, which is a critical consideration in marketing prints such as brochures, flyers, and catalogs.

Also, Matte-finished prints do not require framing or glass to maintain their quality. They are resistant to fingerprints and dust.

Benefits of Glossy Finishes

Glossy finishes provide a dynamic, vibrant, and high-contrast image. This finish is perfect for photographs and vibrant designs, making them appear more striking and colorful. Glossy papers offer a sleek and modern look that is perfect for work displaying modern art or an intense, contemporary design style.

Glossy finishes are perfect for prints that are not going to be touched. This type of paper is glossy due to a film layer that prevents the inks from getting absorbed by the paper. This makes glossy prints prone to fingerprints and smudging.

Matte Glossy
No Glare or Reflections Glossy Finish Creates Glare or Reflections
Minimal Fingerprints Easily Show Fingerprints
Texture Feels Natural Texture Is Generally Coated And Very Smooth
Subdued Colors with Sheet or Texture Visual Interest Intense Colors with USM or Complex Graphic

Whether you choose matte or glossy finishes, each has its advantages and disadvantages for various printing techniques. In general, glossy paper works best for high-intensity prints, while matte paper is perfect for minimal look projects that require easy readability. To determine which finish suits your project best, consider your design style, the printing method, the type of image you are working with, and its purpose.

Is Matte or Glossy Better FAQs

1. What is the main difference between matte and glossy finishes?
Matte finish is non-reflective and has a subtle, velvety texture, while glossy finish is shiny and reflective.

2. Which finish is better for photographs?
It depends on personal preference, but many photographers prefer a matte finish because it reduces glare and fingerprints.

3. Which finish is better for printing text-heavy documents?
A matte finish is better for text-heavy documents because it is easier to read and does not reflect as much light as a glossy finish.

4. Which finish is more durable?
A glossy finish is more durable because it is more resistant to scratches and fading. However, it is also more prone to fingerprints and smudges.

5. Which finish is more expensive?
Generally, a glossy finish is more expensive because it requires more specialized equipment and materials to produce.

6. Can I apply a matte or glossy finish to my phone or laptop?
Yes, you can apply a matte or glossy finish to your phone or laptop. There are many products available that can be easily applied and removed.

7. Can I switch from a matte to glossy finish or vice versa?
Yes, you can switch from a matte to glossy finish or vice versa. However, keep in mind that it may require additional time, effort, and cost to do so.

Closing Thoughts on Matte vs. Glossy Finishes

We hope that our FAQs on matte vs. glossy finishes have been helpful in answering your questions and guiding you towards the right choice for your needs. Whether you prefer the velvety texture of matte or the shine of glossy, remember to choose the option that best suits your desired outcome. Thank you for reading and please visit us again soon for more informative articles.