How do you check smoothness? Ask about the paper’s Sheffield value. A higher value on this smoothness scale typically indicates a rougher sheet:
for example:
  • coated paper may have a smoothness of 10-30
  • a super-smooth premium uncoated will have a smoothness of 45-60
  • a vellum text and cover from 200-250.


Paper Types & Finishes

Paper comes in a wide range of finishes, with notable differences even among those classified as “smooth.” Finish or smoothness affects ink receptivity and ink holdout.

The word "finish" essentially means the treatment of the surface of the paper. In other words a paper may feel very smooth or it may feel rough. It is that texture or "finish" that we are referring to.

Before we talk about the various finishes, we must define Coated and Uncoated paper.

 

Click here for a PDF of the break down of different types of paper.

 

Uncoated paper

Uncoated Paper: Generally more absorbent of ink than a coated paper, like its namesake, uncoated paper does not have a coating.
  • It is generally not as smooth as coated paper and tends to be more porous.
  • Uncoated paper is generally used for letterhead, envelopes and printed material that is aiming for a more prestigious or elegant look.
  • College and University booklets, real estate brochures and menus for elegant restaurants are generally printed on uncoated paper to give them a prestigious feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coated paper

Coated paper has a glossy or matte finish.

  • Coated paper is generally very smooth and can be either very shiny (high gloss) or have a subtle shine (matte).
  • Either way, coated paper will have a great effect on the appearance and usefulness of the printed item. Coated paper is more resistant to dirt, moisture and wear.
  • It makes the printed material more shiny. That is why it is generally used in the printing of magazines, book covers, glossy photos and art books.
  • Coating restricts the amount of ink that is absorbed by the paper and how the ink bleeds into the paper. This is desirable for sharp and complex images as the ink stays on top of the paper and will not wick or bleed reducing the sharpness of the printed material.
  • This same property can be unattractive for the back of business cards as the coated paper does not take well to pen ink or pencil and many people like to write on the back of business cards.

 

 

 

Gloss paper is coated on both sides with china clay or chalk and calendared to give a very high smoothness and gloss. It is used for the printing of halftones and color, and high-quality magazines and promotional material. The base paper of cheaper coated papers can contain ground wood or recycled fiber.

Sophisticated Coating of paper

Mills apply clay coatings to uncoated paper to created coated papers. Coatings come in a range of thicknesses. They refer to the uncoated stock as the base sheet.

  • Wash Coat: Also called film coat, this gives just enough clay to improve ink holdout.
  • Matte Coat: This has more clay than wash coat and offers good bulk. It works well with body copy and multicolor printing, but may not look good enough with
    color photos.
  • Dull Coat: Also known as suede or velvet, this is heavily coated and moderately calendared, yielding good contrast between paper and high-gloss inks or varnish.
  • Gloss Coat: Gloss coat has the same amount of clay as dull, but sheets are more highly calendared and polished. Colors reflect well and dull inks and varnishes give good contrast. Color photographs look crisp.

 

Gloss gives better fidelity with photos, but Matte is easier on the eyes.

 

 

Smooth Finish

Paper comes in a wide range of finishes, with notable differences even among those classified as “smooth.” Finish or smoothness affects ink receptivity and ink holdout.

The word "finish" essentially means the treatment of the surface of the paper. In other words a paper may feel very smooth or it may feel rough. It is that texture or "finish" that we are referring to.

 

Columns

The columns finish is a more modern finish. It is interesting as it is subtle and yet very noticeable all at the same time.

The finish is embossed into the paper deep enough that you will see the columns from both sides of the paper (although the finish is more obvious on one side). The columns do not have a stiff machined edge- instead it is a softer line.


 






Felt

Authentic/True Felt finish is what you are used to seeing on high quality Fine Arts Watercolor paper. The finish has fairly broad crater-like depressions in it.

Vellum

  • This finish has an absolutely terrific tooth* to it. This finish ranges from very noticeable to very subtle.

  • To an untrained eye you may think that you are looking at a smooth finish paper. However, if you hold the paper at an angle away from you under light you will see that there is a bit of a roughness to the paper. It is that roughness or "tooth" that makes the difference between a smooth finish and a vellum finish.

  • This finish is the best for colored pencils, Printmaking like fine art lithography. It is also perfect for rubber stamping, heat embossing, stencil embossing (lighter colors only), chalk, pastels, watercolor, die-cutting and scoring. It is the most versatile of all the finishes for crafters.

Note: What can be confusing for some folks it that when they hear the word vellum they think of Translucent Vellum Paper. That is a whole different animal. That is the name of a paper not the name of a finish

 
  Click here for a PDF of the break down of different types of paper.
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