There are thousands of choices when it comes to paper. Paper varies in thickness, color, texture, and coatings. Coated paper is not made differently than any other paper. It is still wood fiber, but it has compounds added to the surface that changes how it feels, looks, and most importantly, how it absorbs ink. Uncoated paper as you might have guessed, does not have theses substances added to it.
This is paper that coated with compounds or polymers to change certain qualities of the paper, including weight, smoothness, surface gloss and ink absorbency. It can give the paper a matte, or gloss finish, while making it smoother. Depending on what is added to the paper it can also add water resistance.
The key when dealing with coated paper is understanding the ink absorbency. An image printed on coated paper will look much different than one printed on uncoated paper. The coating on the paper makes it harder for the ink to absorb into the paper. This means that more ink will stay on the surface, making a more vibrant image. The colors will be brighter, and the lines sharper. If you need the image to really stand out printing on coated paper is a really good choice. The image below shows the difference when the same image is printed on coated and uncoated paper.
The drawback of using coated paper is that it can be difficult to write on. If you are printing something that requires something handwritten you may want to consider using an uncoated stock. Or you can pick a paper that is only coated on one side. Referred to as C1S by the printing industry. This allows you to have the brighter colored image on one side, and be able to write on the other. Many cards are printed with this.
Uncoated paper does offer benefits that coated paper does not. You can write on it, which we have already discussed, but you can also add texture to uncoated paper. Adding a coating by definition smooths the paper out. So if you would like to have a texture on you paper, linen stocks for instance, it must be uncoated. These types of paper are typically used for resumes, and other official documents.
Things To Remember:
Adding a coating to paper will make is smoother, and some what water resistant. But most importantly it will reduce the amount of ink that is absorbed into the paper. This makes for brighter colors, but also makes it difficult to write on. If you would like to have textured paper it needs to be an uncoated paper, and for a nice middle ground you can chose a paper that is coated on one side, or C1S. Knowing what you need you printing piece to do will help you decide if you need a coated or uncoated stock.