Glossy vs Silk paper – what is best for my project?

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When it comes to printed products, the detail is in the finish. Both glossy and silk finishes are two of the most popular finishes in the printing world, but which is better?

The truth is, there’s no ‘better’ option. It all depends on your own printing needs and the type of product you’re looking to produce. When it comes to choosing a finish, two factors should be taken into consideration: your budget, and whether or not you want to be able to write on your finished product or not.

In this guide, we’re going to go over the main pros and cons of glossy finishes and silk finishes, to help you make the most informed decision for your order. We’ve got over 20 years of printing experience, so we’d like to think that we know our stuff.

So, glossy vs. silk finishing, what’s the best option for you? Let’s take a look.

What is coated paper?

Coated paper typically uses a mix of materials or polymer to create a specific type of finish. These finishes can be smooth, matte, gloss or silk (silk finishes are also often referred to as satin finishes.)

Different Types of Paper Finishes

Matte Paper

Matte paper is a popular alternative to uncoated paper, and uses a very small amount of coating. Matte paper has a non-glossy appearance with minimum sheen or glare, and can be written on easier than gloss or silk paper.

Gloss Paper

Gloss paper is high-shine and, as the name suggests, glossy, with the glossy effect being achieved by applying a thicker coating to the paper. Gloss paper works well for marketing purposes, as you can more easily achieve eye-catching, higher colour contrast on a printed product. This is also great for printed items that contain a high number of photogratphs.

On the downside, gloss paper isn’t ideal when it comes to readability; the high-shine can create glare when it catches the sunlight.

Silk/Satin Paper

Silk paper (or satin paper) provides a semi-gloss finish and is your halfway-point between gloss and matte paper. Silk paper typically has a slightly glossier appearance than matte paper – making it more eye-catching – while giving off less glare than gloss paper, making it easier to read. Silk paper is one of the more versatile finishes we offer at Avenue.

Silk vs. Gloss Finishes

So, is a gloss or silk finishing best for your needs? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Silk Finish: Pros and Cons


  • Trendy and fashionable. There’s no denying it – silk paper just feels great. It looks trendy and chic while remaining professional, and we love that super-smooth feeling when you touch it.
  • Easy to write on. Silk paper is very slightly easier to write on than gloss paper (uncoated or bond paper is best for this).
  • Inexpensive. Silk paper isn’t expensive, so you can easily bulk produce silk printed products without breaking the bank.


  • Cracking. One major disadvantage of silk finishes is that they’re prone to damage from bending. A silk finish is more likely to crease, resulting in an unprofessional-looking product after significant wear and tear.
  • Understated. Although appearance isn’t everything, aesthetics are important in the world of printing. We have to admit that silk printing isn’t particularly innovative or exciting – being one of the most common printing finishes, it doesn’t always stand out on its own.

Glossy Finish: Pros and Cons


  • Super smooth, professional finish. Glossy finishes really do work the “perception of value” – a glossy finish is more likely to give a customer or client the impression that your services or products are that of a high standard.
  • Great for images. While silk finishes can often create dull photos when printed, glossy finishes really bring your images and photographs to life.


  • Readability. When it comes to gloss finishes, one disadvantage is that glossy paper often creates a ‘glare’ reflection. This can mean that a glossy finish may be difficult to read or interpret under certain lighting or outdoors.
  • Difficult to write on. If you’re looking to create a printed product to write on, glossy paper might not be an ideal candidate. For items such as notebooks, diaries and planners, you might find it more useful to opt for a silk finish.

Glossy vs. silk Finishing: What’s the best option for me?

If you’re still not sure which paper type is best for you, we’ve organised the three main points you’ll want to consider before choosing your preferred finish:

What will need to be printed on the paper?

Will you be printing an item with lots of photos or detailed imagery? Would a user need to easily read what is on the page without light reflection? You’ll need to establish how the products will be used.

To write or not to write?

If you’re going to be writing on your printed products, choosing a glossy finish is going to make it complicated. silk finishes allow you to write on your paper in both pen and pencil, so we’d recommend a silk finish.


When it comes to printing, cost obviously plays an important role in the overall decision-making process. Glossy finishes are slightly more expensive than silk finishes, so we’d recommend using a silk finish if you’re going to order in bulk but would like to save on costs. At Avenue, we offer cost-effective pricing for all of our orders, so it’s easy for you to get the best deal.

Best for Silk Finishing: notebooks, diaries, planners, letters, anything that is bulk-produced.

Best for Gloss Finishing: Menus, training manuals, book covers, anything designed for longevity.

Do you have an idea for your next printing project and a need for a printing partner to fulfill the project? Get in touch with Avenue Printing today. As print brokers, we provide our clients with reliable commercial printing services. To reach out about creating an order with us, you can phone us at our office at 01732 742397, or fill in our online form here.