Gloss or Matte: What is the Difference?

When you go to purchase many printed objects, you’re often given a choice between two common types of laminations: gloss and matte. Not many people know the difference or know how that difference should be applied to a printing project. However, the choice between gloss or matte could make the difference between a printed product that works well and one that doesn’t. If you make the wrong choice, you could potentially end up with a ruined product or experience. Here is the difference between gloss and matte, and when to use each in your printing needs.

What are Gloss and Matte?

Gloss and matte are two different types of lamination finishings. Lamination is the process of covering a product with a thin layer of plastic that helps the product maintain its durability and protect it from spills. The lamination process will make your printed products last longer and look better overall. 


Gloss is best used for products that will be handled often. Gloss laminating is less expensive than matte and generally is more resilient to constant use. A product with a gloss finish will stand up to daily interaction without wearing away, making it last longer than a matte product. However, gloss finishes reflect light, making the product more difficult to see in direct light. Many companies will still choose a gloss finish on a product that will be in direct light if it’s going to be used often, such as with restaurant menus. The payoff of higher durability usually makes the glare worthwhile.

Printed products that work best with a gloss finish are:


  Business cards




Matte is best used for products that are often in direct light and won’t be handled as much as a gloss product. Matte finishing is a high-quality lamination that protects the printed object from glare, making it easy to see under direct light. However, this lamination is also easily scratched or scuffed because of the materials used. A matte product that is handled can quickly deteriorate. To get the best out of a matte finish, you want to make sure the product is protected.

Printed products that work best with a matte finish are:

  Framed posters or other works of art

  Posted flyers


Now that you know the difference between gloss and matte, you can choose with ease for your next printed project. If you’re printing a product that isn’t going to be in direct light or that will be handled often, you’ll want to choose a gloss finish to help it maintain its durability. However, if your product will be generally protected and in direct light, you’ll want to go with a matte finish to help protect viewers from glare and maintain a higher-quality image. No matter which one you choose, laminating your product will provide the benefits you need to succeed.