December 16, 2021 The Print Authority

Guide to Types of Lamination: Matte, Gloss & More

Lamination is the ultimate paper protection. This finishing process makes printed products sturdy and water-resistant. It also appeals to the senses, creating products that look shiny and professional and feel pleasing in your hands.

However, did you know that there are multiple types of lamination? In this article, we’ll explain the three main types of lamination, including matte lamination, gloss lamination, and soft touch lamination along with a bonus type.

What Are the Types of Lamination?

If you only remember lamination from elementary school art class, get ready to learn a lot. There are, in fact, three main types of lamination used in printing: matte, gloss, and “soft touch” lamination. We’ll explain all of them below plus a lesser-known lamination method.

Matte Lamination

Matte lamination is a common type of lamination that adds a smooth, clear matte finish to printed materials. It’s easy to read products with a matte lamination as there is less glare, and this type of lamination makes products feel sophisticated. It looks natural while adding to the item’s perceived quality.

Gloss Lamination

Gloss lamination is a classic lamination style. The plastic used in gloss lamination is smooth, which reflects a lot of light and gives items a shiny quality. It is frequently applied to both sides of the product, providing a high degree of protection from damage.

Soft Touch Lamination

Soft touch lamination is a luxurious lamination type that satisfies two senses: sight and touch. It generally looks like matte lamination, and it feels soft and silky. This velvety feel makes laminated paper products feel luxurious; it’s the Rolls Royce of print finishing, without the Rolls Royce price tag.

Nylon Lay Flat Lamination

Less common than the types listed above, nylon lay flat laminate is mostly used for book jackets and perfect bound book covers. It doesn’t produce the curl in the finished product that other laminates tend to create. This type of laminate is typically applied to one side of the printed sheet only and helps book covers last longer.

Lamination Benefits

Lamination is a beneficial choice for a wide range of products. Some of the best reasons to laminate printed products include the following:

  • Truer colors. By enclosing your printed materials in a completely see-through layer, lamination ensures that clients see the sharp, bright colors you intended.
  • Easier disinfection. In today’s world of increased hygiene practices, laminated products are useful because they can be easily disinfected. Simply wipe a laminated product with a disinfectant wipe, and it’s clean and ready to be used again.
  • Increased durability. Lamination is an essential tactic for making your printed products sturdier and longer-lasting. Gloss lamination in particular gives your products an almost indestructible quality, making them far less subject to water and difficult to damage. Fingerprints, smudges, and oil are easily wiped off. They’re also less likely to tear or fold.
  • Fewer replacement costs. Lamination’s protective qualities mean that your items are less likely to experience wear and tear, so you’ll need to replace them much less often. Over time, this can amount to significant savings; the small cost of adding lamination to your print order frequently pays off in the long run.
  • Additional luxury. Sensory experiences are a key influence when marketing and making sales. The beautiful look and pleasing feel of laminated products increase confidence in your company and make your products, and therefore your company, more desirable.

How Does Lamination Work?

Lamination is a simple process. Once an item has been printed, it is passed through a machine that uses rollers to apply a sticky-back clear plastic to one or both sides of the paper. This machine typically uses pressure and heat to ensure that the laminate sticks. Once the plastic has been applied, the item is cut to size.

Laminating is typically available for both offset printed and digitally printed sheets in 1.5 mil, 3 mil, 5 mil, and 10 mil thicknesses. A 1.5 mil laminate is the thinnest and least expensive, but it is quite flimsy and hard to work with. A 3 mil thickness is a commonly-used and cost-effective size. A 5 mil laminate is an intermediate weight that gives printed pieces body without being overly rigid. A 10 mil thickness is similar to that used on driver’s licenses.

How To Choose Matte, Gloss, or Soft Touch Lamination

If you’re trying to decide between the many types of lamination, the good news is that you can’t go wrong. Each of the types adds something special to your product. When you’re considering lamination types, remember the following:

  • Consider your product’s use. If it will be handled by many people, consider a thicker gloss lamination that provides extreme protection. This is the perfect lamination for items such as restaurant menus that can be used for months or even years at a time.
  • Keep colors in mind. If you’re looking for bright, exciting colors, such as on a poster, then gloss lamination is probably the right choice for you. If you’d prefer more subtle colors, such as for packaging items, then matte lamination is the way to go.
  • Imagine your intended emotional effect. If you want your item to inspire ideas of luxury, you probably want to opt for soft touch lamination. This is a particularly good choice for items such as business cards, which contribute to a new contact’s first impression of you and your business.

Special Considerations With Lamination

Be sure to consult with an experienced printing company before laminating your print project.

First off, before laminating printed items, be clear on what you are laminating. Was the printing done using offset printing or digital printing? Sometimes, special stickier laminate is needed for digitally printed items. Also, it may not be possible or necessary to laminate items printed on plastic.

Second, it is important to note that laminating interferes with some other bindery processes. For example, although there are workarounds, it is very challenging to fold a laminated piece, and it can be quite costly and sometimes leads to problems. In the same vein, typically, you can only laminate one side of a book cover for perfect binding, although a two-sided laminated cover works great for some other types of book binding.

Lastly, although typical laminate provides a good degree of water resistance, it may or may not be completely waterproof for the long term. If you are actually using laminated sheets in a pool or other standing water, consult with your printer about the right type of laminate to use. Not all laminates are created equal on water resistance, so testing is important with challenging applications. A well-informed printing company can shed light on all of this and more!

Many printed items can be laminated. Some of the most common include:

  • Menus
  • Paper stickers
  • Vinyl stickers
  • Name tags
  • ID badges
  • Membership cards
  • Business cards
  • Labels
  • Counter and window signs
  • Posters
  • Certificates
  • Training cards
  • Restaurant kitchen and bar instructions
  • Machinery operation instructions
  • Fire and evacuation posters and signs
  • Warning and caution labels
  • OSHA documents
  • Book covers
  • Field books or field guides
  • Some training manuals

Feel free to contact your printing company with all of your lamination questions. They’ll be able to give you detailed advice for your specific project and help you decide which of the types of lamination fits your needs.

Laminate Your Materials With the Experts at The Print Authority

Here at The Print Authority, we provide excellent printing and lamination services for all the products you need. In addition to world-class design, print, and distribution services, we offer matte, gloss, and soft touch lamination, so we are the top choice to take care of your printing needs from start to finish. We’re excited to work with you! Fill out an information request form or contact us today.