Print Coatings for Your Packaging Solution

Sunrise Packaging offers multiple ways to enhance and protect the graphics applied to your custom box, binder, or blister card. With a print coating, you protect your graphics from exposure to moisture, extreme temperatures, and the everyday effects of repetitive use. Not only will a print coating protect your personalized packaging, it also improves the visual appeal by adding a sleek, professional finish to your design. Each type of print coating is applied in its own unique way to enhance your custom packaging. All finishes are available in matte, dull, satin, or gloss.

Each print coating comes with its own pros and cons depending on the project. Be sure to discuss your options with our experienced packaging experts to choose the print coating that is best for your custom packaging.


Applying varnish is an inexpensive way to add a glossy print coating to your pocket folders. Although not as rugged as other coatings, varnish does offer some protection from dirt, smearing and water. Varnish can be applied two ways:

Overprint/Flood in which the print coating is applied over entire surface for protection.

Spot/Pattern where the finish is applied to select elements for emphasis.

Varnish print coating can also be color-tinted. Gloss varnish reflects more light which adds to the sharpness and saturation of images. Matte or dull varnish increases readability by diffusing light and reducing glare.

Bottom Line

Overprint varnish is an affordable solution that provides a mild shine and protection, but can yellow paper over time.


An aqueous print coating is fast-drying and water-based. Containing protective sealants, this finish is particularly resistant to smudges and fingerprints. Aqueous formulations make for better protection than varnish, and have gloss characteristics that fall between varnish and UV coatings. A high gloss print coating has less rub resistance, but a greater rub resistance reduces the degree of gloss. An aqueous print coating are not water/liquid resistant however, as the cured coating does inhibit complete drying of the inks on the project.

Advantage of aqueous coating over
conventional varnish:

  • Higher Gloss
  • Better Clarity
  • Faster Drying
  • Won’t Yellow Over Time
  • Higher Abrasion
  • Higher Rub Resistance
  • Environmentally-friendly (Water-based)
  • Glossier Finish on Lesser Grade Paper


Laminates come in two types. Film-based, in which a clear plastic film is laid down over the sheet of paper and dries (or cures) like a varnish. Liquid-based laminates start with a clear liquid spread over the sheet and drying by the same process. Laminates protect the sheet from water. These print coatings are slow to apply and slightly more costly, but provide a strong, washable surface.

Film lamination features high gloss with a very smooth, tough finish. This durable plastic film has advantages over liquid coating. Film lamination will not yellow with age, flake off, and is scratch-resistant. In addition, the ink is protected from cracking and provides an odorless, wipeable surface.


UV coating is a liquid based, protective print coating which is applied and cured by ultraviolet lamps. This process leaves an extremely high gloss hard finish that is chemical- and abrasion-resistant. UV coatings are solvent-free and emit no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Drying is instantaneous with exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Additional options include spot cover, raised effects, and a very heavy coating for extra shine and protection.

Printing must be done with UV inks, or wax-free inks that do not contain micro crystalline wax. Pigments must be heat- and chemical-resistant. If nonresistant colors are used, the color may fade, change or bleed into unprinted areas. The UV print coating requires extra recycling procedures versus the other finishes, and a thick coating may crack when scored.

Spot UV

Advantage of UV coating over other
print coating methods:

  • Highest Gloss
  • Better clarity
  • Higher Abrasion
  • Higher Rub Resistance