Cover Finishes

Cover finishes – laminates, UV varnishes for magazine, brochure and catalogue printing

Cover finishes – Laminates, UV varnishes and more explained

With cover finishes such as laminates and varnishes you can add an element of quality, durability and creativity to your magazine, catalogue, or brochure printing. As part of the printing process, particularly with digital and web printing presses, finishes can be applied in-line or they can be applied separately as an off-line separate finishing process. In addition to explaining laminate and UV varnish finishes, this article outlines some other decorative finishes available.


A laminate is a thin layer of plastic applied to the outer cover of your magazine print product. These can be finished in matt, silk or gloss. It adds durability and some protection against spills and marks while preserving artwork. Lamination, however, cannot be spot applied and matt lamination over dark colours can show finger marks.

In addition to offering protection and strength, polypropylene lamination is available in gloss, silk, and matt finishes. The polyester laminate is more durable than polypropylene and provides a hard coating that offers heat protection and does not become brittle over time. Specialty laminates include metallic finishes like gold and silver, and holographic and iridescent films.

UV Varnishes

UV vanishes are typically applied in-line and hardened with ultraviolet light. Spot varnish can be applied to specific parts of a page to enhance or reduce specific areas, such as logos or images, and is available in a variety of finishes. Gloss UV vanishes can produce an almost wet look when applied to rich, dark blues and blacks. Gloss finishes reflect light, matt finishes are smooth and don’t reflect light, and silk finishes are somewhere in between. The UV spot varnish can also be applied to specific areas and over laminates to create different visual effects. Textured varnish produces a rippled effect, and it can be used as a spot varnish in certain areas or as an overall finish. A neutral varnish can be added online, during the printing process, or offline, after printing, to seal the ink and artwork.

Other creative varnishes include metallic or glitter varnishes, tinted colour vanishes, and latex scratch off panels.

More finishing options

Other finishes include embossing, where the image is raised above the paper or card, and debossing, where the image is indented and tends to be used on thicker paper or card. In addition to offering a range of colours, foil stamping can enhance the look of your product and can be applied to a wide range of materials. Embossing and debossing can also be enhanced by foiling, creating a tactile and visual finish. There is an edge staining process in which gold leaf is used to stain the edges of a book, for example.

Please contact us on 01323 419701 to discuss your project requirements so we can advise you on what options will provide the quality and price you require, or email

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