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Coated Vs. Uncoated Paper – Which One Is Best For You?

When you need to choose between printing a business card with coated or uncoated paper, it may look like the only thing you need to think about is the texture. But the truth is that you need to consider many other things. So what’s the difference between coated and uncoated business cards?

The main difference between coated and uncoated business cards is that coated business cards have their surface laminated with different materials or textures. In contrast, uncoated business cards don’t have any extras. Also, coated and uncoated business cards can’t have the same finishes in some cases. 

But now that we know of their differences, how can we pick the best option for our business card? This blog will show what to expect from each card, how they look, and when to choose them. 

Differences Between Coated And Uncoated Business Cards

So apart from the differences we stated above, there are some other important ones to consider when picking your ideal business card. But to make this process a little easier, we will talk about each aspect and explain how they are different from each other:

1- Colors On Coated And Uncoated Business Cards

When it comes to colors on business cards, you will find that 99% of printing companies will use CMYK values. There are countless color options, but if you really want your business card to have the exact colors you chose, you should pick the colors using a CMYK book from Pantone. 

Important: Pantone has specific colors for coated and uncoated papers, so it’s crucial to pick from the right book according to the business card you will print.

For uncoated business cards, there are two important factors to consider. The first is that although most uncoated papers will use a bright white color, others have warmer or darker whites which might impact how the color you choose will look in the finished product. The second is that some uncoated papers are better at absorbing colors than others. For example, 100% cotton paper will retain much more color than a 14pt uncoated paper, making the colors look different on any given paper. 

For coated business cards, there are two important factors as well. The first is the same one uncoated business cards have: some paper might have a color or tone that can impact the color if it isn’t bright white. The second is that coated business cards have different textures and laminations. For example, suede business cards will look different from silk laminated business cards because their lamination is different.

Our recommendation: if you really need a business card to look as you want, you can request a hard copy proof of the card, and once you like the finished product, ask the printer to process the order. Most people don’t need to do this as color variations aren’t noticeable in most cases. 

2- Finishes On Coated And Uncoated Business Cards

Besides the colors your business cards will have, you also need to consider the finishes or special printing features they will have. We will talk about how finishes may impact your design and brand colors depending on the paper you choose. Let’s talk about them in more detail.

For uncoated business cards, it is crucial to know the number of colors your business card will have. Most of the finishes uncoated business cards can have are exclusive to uncoated papers, and most of them use a PMS Offset Printing technique. This technique limits the number of colors you can have on your business card, and adding more than four PMS colors can result in exorbitantly high prices and long turnaround times. These finishes include raised ink, letterpress, embossing, and engraving. 

Our recommendation: if you know your business card has multiple colors and you want a special finish on it, we recommend choosing a coated business card as these can have finishes that use CMYK printing. 

For coated business cards, there aren’t many things to consider besides not being able to have some of the finishes you can have with uncoated business cards. Coated business cards use the most modern printing techniques, making them an excellent option for any style, especially colorful brands. You can have special finishes like raised and flat spot UV or raised and flat foil. Plus, you can laminate these business cards to make their texture more unique using suede or silk lamination. These business cards also have the option to look matte or glossy. 

Our recommendation: Since these business cards use modern printing techniques, they are considered “modern.” If you are looking for a more traditional finish, we recommend printing uncoated business cards. We also recommend you first look at the finish you want before designing your business card to make sure they can match. 

3- Prices Of Coated And Uncoated Papers

When it comes to pricing, coated and uncoated papers are very different. Paper is made of wood fibers, and the more natural the paper is, the more wood fibers it will have, hence more expensive. Uncoated papers tend to be much more natural than coated papers because they use wood fibers and other (cheaper) artificial materials to compose themselves.

So based on this, you can conclude the following: since uncoated papers don’t usually have artificial materials, they’ll be more expensive than coated papers.

Our recommendation: If you’re looking for durable, high-quality business cards on a budget, we recommend you choose coated papers like 16pt dull/matte business cards. If you don’t like coated papers and would rather use an uncoated one, read our tip below! Also, the thinner your paper is, the more cost-effective it will be. 

Tip: If you explore the printing market for a while, you’ll find very affordable prices in both coated and uncoated papers, but if you value quality, make sure that when you see a cheap uncoated paper, it isn’t that thin; thin papers get damaged very quickly, and they might not give a good first impression. 

4- Durability On Coated And Uncoated Papers

What’s ironic about uncoated papers being more expensive than coated papers is that coated papers are much more durable than uncoated ones. Since uncoated papers are much more natural, they are more delicate to the environment. On the other side, coated papers get extra durable because they are laminated. We have seen multiple coated business cards get wet, dirty (and get cleaned), handed over numerous times, and they continue to look good in the end. 

Our recommendation: if you work in an industry where you know the environment you will be in can be hostile to your business cards, it is best to go for coated paper. Conversely, if you are mostly in a corporate environment, uncoated business cards will work perfectly for you. You can print business cards of any type regardless of your industry or environment; these are only some times to keep in mind. 

That would be all for this blog. And we hope you find the ideal business card for your company! 

If you still have other questions related to coated and uncoated papers, you can continue reading our blogs, contact us via email at info@japanprint.com or call us at 212-406-2905! Our NYC business card experts will be glad to assist you in getting your business card order ready.

Japan Printing and Graphics