What is UV coating?

January 15, 2020

UV coated paper can add extra shine or another layer of protection to your printed materials. But not everybody knows what UV coating is or how it works.

What is ultraviolet coating?

UV (ultraviolet) coating is a thin, shiny layer of liquid coating applied to a printed sheet. The coating is then cured, or dried, using a special machine emitting ultraviolet radiation. The liquid coating hardens around the sheet and gives the paper a smooth finish, perfect for making bright colors “pop”. While the process for ultraviolet coating is more or less standard, different amounts of coating can produce vastly different results.

What are the different types of coated papers?


Uncoated paper is, unsurprisingly, paper that has not been treated with any extra UV coating or finishing. The result is an “unshiny” look, making it ideal for text-heavy pieces that require ease of readability above all else. Additionally, uncoated paper produces “smudge-free” writing with the widest range of pens and pencils, especially compared to glossier finishes. 

Matte Coated

Matte coated paper has a light UV coating, roughly 25% on average, that produces minimal glare and a high contrast look to make color images pop. Consequently, Matte coated paper has a smoother look than uncoated, while maintaining the “smudge-free” benefits for most pens, making the paper ideal for calendars or visually engaging journals. 

Gloss Coated

Gloss coated paper has even more coating applied, roughly 50%, giving materials a lot of shine and, as the name suggests, a glossy look ideal for colorful images that need a boost in contrast. This coating gives materials a smooth and polished professional look, but the high levels of coating make it hard to write on without significant smudging, making gloss coated paper ideal for posters or other large scale visual projects.

UV Gloss Coated

Finally, UV Gloss coated paper has the maximum amount of coating applied, achieving the most vivid range and contrasts of colors in a printed piece. Naturally, UV gloss coating has the highest amount of shine or glare, making it harder to read large amounts of text. UV Gloss coating is ideal for purely visual communications and can give an image an unmatched eye-catching quality. 

Calitho is a commercial printer and visual communications company serving the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Let us help with your next printing project by requesting a quote today.