World Arts is constantly making projects look incredible, including using the latest printing techniques like coatings and varnishes.

Adding Pizzazz with Coatings vs. Varnishes

Visualize your next marketing piece. Can you see it? Are the photographs popping off the catalog page enticing the consumer to place their order? Do you see the stars on your gala invitation sparkling against the dark blue paper? If not, it may be time to consider adding a secret ingredient to bring your piece to life.

Coating and varnishes enhance the visual appeal of a printed sheet. They can bring a reader’s attention to a specific area, like your call to action. They add durability to the stock, a beneficial feature for mailing pieces that can get scuffed during their travels to your customers’ final destination. Learn the difference between the two and gain the insider tract to making your next print job stand out from the crowd.

Difference between Coatings and Varnishes

One of the main differences between these two types of finishes is how they are applied to your stock, but it doesn’t stop there:


Coatings are often used as a protective barrier against scuffing of inks. They are applied by flooding the sheet with the chosen coating from the coating unit on the press. While you cannot pick and choose where you want the coating to go, it may be possible to “knock out” a section of your piece like the mailing panel.

Here are three common coatings:

  • Aqueous coatings are water-based and make a great, environmentally sound choice for pieces that need some extra protection, like a mailed piece. You can find aqueous coatings in gloss, satin, and dull/matte finishes.
  • UV coatings dry fast and enhance the appearance of your print product, especially gloss UV coatings. It is possible to have a spot UV coating to focus on certain areas. Keep in mind that this category of coating may crack when folded, so you may consider other options. UV coatings come in gloss, satin, and dull finishes.
  • Soft touch coatings come in both aqueous and UV and give your stock a velvety feel. Book covers often have this type of finish added to them. It is resistant to fingerprints as well, which is good, because your customers may not be able to keep their hands off the luxurious feel from this coating. Besides soft touch, you can enhance printed pieces with glitter and gritty matte coating.



Varnishes are applied like ink, meaning your printer will make a plate for it along with the other plates.

If you are looking for a special effect while also offering some protection from scuffing, consider varnishes. Not only will you add that special something to your project’s appearance but you can create some fascinating effects.

For example, you can have your printer do what’s called strikethrough, which is the process of using a dull UV varnish followed by a gloss aqueous coating. You can also use a spot varnish to make images pop off the page.

Varnishes print like ink. They come in conventional and UV formulas and each type comes in dull, satin, matte, and gloss versions.

Get the Finished Look You Seek When You Work with World Arts

Stand out from your competition when you use coatings and varnishes to protect and add some pizzazz to your print job. The World Arts team has the knowledge and experience to get you the look you are after. Contact us today at 800-530-9202 and let’s see what we can create together. 


Share This Post

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get the latest updates right to your inbox

trust our experts to handle your next project

Find out how we can help you

Heidelberg Press