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Silk Or Gloss: What’s The Best Finish Using Coated Paper?

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Have you ever thought when choosing your printing finish what looks better - silk or glossy?

Whether you’re printing photos, leaflets or food menus, Lanes Printers is going to explain the reason behind the finish for your document. While the choice may be a personal or artistic opinion, there are still qualities that each finish has which makes them the superior choice for printing. In this month’s blog we are showing you not just the differences but the pros and cons of each finish, we are going to help you understand the physical elements that will make your decision easier or harder (depending on the product you have).

But wait, although there are the two finishing types we have mentioned (silk and glossy), there is an option for having your printing ‘uncoated’. An uncoated finish is exactly what it sounds like, it has more of a matte finish. It simply defines paper that has no extra coating or finishing when printed. And, since there is no coating, this means that there is no glare on the surface. Making it ideal for prints that have a lot of text like food menus or reports.

The Main Differences Between Gloss and Silk Coated Paper

Although just a finish, there are some big differences between the two finishing types but one thing that remains the same is they are manufactured in a very similar manner. Believe it or not, silk uses the same chemical coating as gloss. The in depth reading is simple gloss finish has more coating applied than silk finish.

The dense coating means that when gloss is printed it is very slightly thinner than silk printing, even though they weigh the same. The glossy booklets are slightly thinner and more denser due to the extra coating.

Pros And Con of Gloss and Silk Coated Paper


Silk finish, has a semi-gloss finish which does produce high quality prints, but this means it lacks the vibrant effects that a glossy finish inherits. Saying this though, silk coating produces no glare and is highly resistant to smudging and fingerprints. Also, it has a more ‘muted’ feel to it, this would be great with products with a light or pastel colour theme or printing that is very text-heavy. This is because silk coating, unlike gloss coating when printed, changes less under the light giving more of a flat feel to the image or product. Additionally, silk finish would look great in a monochrome scheme or black and white image. But, do bear in mind because of the lack of colour it ‘picks’ up it may bring out unwanted texture in the photo or product.


Glossy finish is shinier meaning this makes the colour in your images stand out on the sheet. This extra shine that the gloss coating has works well on printing with heavy colour coverage for example big graphics or photographs, it gives the images an impression of a higher contrast effect. Unlike a silk finish, glossy creates a glare due to its coating meaning you’ll see light reflecting off the product, sometimes making it hard to view even under different lighting. Additionally, glossy finish attracts fingerprints, because of the wet look it possesses.

Final Thoughts

While there is no right or wrong answer to choosing your printing finish for a photo or product, there are pros and cons that are important to understand in order to get the most from your prints. However, if you feel like you have chosen the wrong coating - do not panic! Both paper types carry colour very well, you will not regret your decision or have a weird looking photo or product, it just comes down to preference or opinion. You can read our blog post about the beautiful product we produced for Crufts that features both silk and gloss finishes here. 

If you are looking to get some documents printed, from letterheads and business cards, through to menus or photographs, then Lanes Printers are here to help. If you are unsure which print finish is the best solution for you, then get in touch with our friendly team today here, or give us a call on 01843 861314.

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