Pros and Cons of the Different Print Finishes

What the different print finish options are, why they each suit different products and how to choose the right print finish for your project

Print marketing can be a powerful tool to advertise your business. Your well-designed posters, brochures, flyers, and business cards help make a great impression on potential customers.

While getting the message through is the focal point, aesthetics also play a significant role in making your marketing materials stand out and this is partly made possible by having an ideal finish. In printing, “finishes” refers to techniques applied on a flat and dull piece of paper to bring your design to life.

Do you know how to choose the right print finish for your next marketing project? Choosing the right one can be tricky, so read on to find out more about each print finish.

Here are some of the most common print finishes that can help highlight your content:


1. Lamination

Lamination is the process of applying a thin layer of film on printed material. This type of finish protects the ink and paper from tear, tamper, and even water.

Lamination may also add gloss to the material, so it has more texture. There are three types of laminated print finishes:

  • Gloss lamination adds shine to your material, calling the attention of your audience.
  • Matte lamination gives a softer, more sophisticated feel and texture with less reflection.
  • Silk or satin lamination creates the perfect balance between gloss and matte.

Modern high-gloss finishes work particularly well with vibrant colours, which makes images more clear, bright and sharp. If you’re going for a classic and elegant look, matte finishes are an ideal choice.

Unlike varnish, lamination adds weight to your printed material, making the surface more durable and long-lasting. This process is therefore commonly used in business cards, ID cards, and other hard-surface printing jobs.


2. Varnish

Varnish has the same purpose as lamination, but it involves adding a liquid coating onto the surface of the material. It’s not as hard as lamination, so the paper maintains its smooth, lightweight feel with a distinctive shine.

Like lamination, varnishes also come in gloss, matte and satin. The varnish seals and preserves the ink on your paper and makes it a popular option for magazines, flyers, brochures, and business letterheads.

There are two types of varnish print finishes:

  • All-over varnish adds the protective liquid to the entire print material.
  • Spot varnish applies varnish on a specific design element on the printed material. This type of finish works well with matte lamination as it makes details visually pop out and look distinct.
Spot UV

3. Spot UV

Spot UV varnishes work the same way as a typical varnish print finish; however, this technique involves applying varnish only to certain parts of the page that you want to highlight. Spot UV applies ultraviolet (UV) light when drying the printed material. This process makes the material dry faster and creates a more exquisite shine compared to traditional varnish.

Glossy spot UV varnish is particularly effective in drawing attention to your brand logo or company name in a business card, flyer, or brochure. It can be used in combination with lamination to create a captivating texture and visual interest.

Foil stamping

4. Foil stamping

Foil stamping print finish involves adding a heat-processed coating to parts of your design – usually logo or text – to create contrast and add a touch of luxury to your print job.

In foiling, the printer presses foil film on a design element. The metallic effect creates a fancy and eye-catching impression that changes the overall look of your material. While gold and silver are the most commonly used foil colours, there’s a full swatch of colours that printers can foil, including, but not limited to, rose gold, copper, red, blue, green, pink, satin white, and black chrome.


5. Embossing

Embossing is a print finish process that applies pressure to the back of material so you can actually feel the design. The embossed portion can highlight logos, text, and features – even without ink!

The embossing without ink technique is sometimes used in combination with foil stamping to create eye-catching business cards, letterhead, and heavy material.


6. Debossing

While embossing creates texture by raising parts of the page, debossing does the exact opposite – pushing down certain parts of the page to invite curiosity.

Also known as letterpress, debossing creates indents on your paper to add depth to your designs. This type of finish creates impact and draws attention to your business logo on any printed material.


7. Folding

Folding keeps your marketing material compact while providing space for more content.

Design is key when applying a fold to your printed material. Make sure that your brochures and letters do not split, making them hard to read. There are plenty of ways to fold your marketing materials: single, double, concertina, and letter methods, just to name a few.


8. Die-cutting

The die-cutting process involves the use of a die to cut shapes or designs out of paper. It’s a great technique for creating impact.

In the die-cutting print finish, the printer removes a specific shape from your material to create a window-like effect. For example, change the edge of your business cards or flyers into rounded corners or add cutting patterns to the surface of a page. The resulting design invites curiosity and makes people want to find out more.

Die-cutting is popular for creating customised brochures, presentation folders, and window envelopes.

Metallic inks

9. Metallic inks

Add flash and glamour to your marketing material with special highlight inks such as metallic or fluro. These metallic or fluro finishes help make logos and text pop glaringly out on cards, invitations, and programs.


10. Laser-cutting

Modern printing techniques have shifted from die-cutting to applying lasers to acrylic materials. This process delivers a cleaner cut, especially to thick printed materials. In laser cutting, a precision beam cuts and creates shapes for your print material. It’s a great way to add a personalised touch to your marketing collateral.

Laser cutting is perfect for cutting invitations, business cards, pop-up cards, and point-of-sale material.

How to Choose the Right Print Finish for Your Next Marketing Project

The one advantage of printed material over online media is that it can appeal to the senses. Adding a special print finish can make your prints stand out, as well as make your company look professional.

If you have no idea which type of print finish to choose for your design, it is best to consult a printing expert. When you have a better understanding of the pros and cons of specific finishes, you can effectively highlight all the printed elements that you want to draw attention to.

For professional advice on the perfect finish for your marketing materials, talk to the print experts here at Jennings and start hitting your sales goals today!