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The printing and packaging industry has evolved extensively and varnish is all the rage when it comes down to revolutionizing the appearance of custom packaging boxes with logo. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that whenever you want the printed material or packaging to stand out, you can depend on varnish for adding pop and vibrancy to the packaging. 

Varnish can surely add a subtle appearance and depth of colors that resonates with the brand. However, the varnish is a new thing in the industry and newbies generally don’t have an idea about it. So, with this article, we are sharing everything you need to know about varnishes, such as types of varnish and the right type of varnish to use for different packaging materials. So, are you ready to dive in?

Varnish – What Is It?

Varnish is known to be a transparent and clear coating that can be applied to the printed surfaces after or during the printing process. The varnish is generally added to the packaging for protecting the printed materials and surfaces from smudges, fingerprints, and scuffs. In addition, it can improve the depth of colors and the appearance of the packaging. 

Types Of Varnish For Printing 

When we talk about the printing world, there is an extensive range of varnishes available in the market and all of them are curated with diverse effects. These types of varnishes must be understood if you want to create the perfect style for custom packaging. With this section, we are sharing different types of varnish coating which can be used in packaging and printing, such as;


This is widely applied all over the packaging surfaces and other specific parts of the printed packaging. It can improve the contrast between different colors and it can also add details and depth to the color. Gloss can pop out the colors while the high-gloss finish has the capacity to create higher lighting reflection, hence hard to read texts.


It can deliver a soft and subtle appearance to the packaging design. It’s pretty explanatory that matte varnish tends to be non-reflective, so you can use it on the packaging with too much text. In addition, it can be used on the surfaces where you want the customers to read the texts. Matte varnish promises a softer appearance, so it might lay back the product a bit. 


To be honest, this technique is suitable for brands who want the best of both worlds since it develops a combination of gloss and matte. It can deliver a soft appearance while delivering higher resistance from scuffs, smudges, and fingerprints. To illustrate, it gives off an image that you just applied varnish without compromising on the subtle effect and protection during transit. 

Strike-Through Matte 

With this varnishing technique, the combination of gloss and matte varnish is used on different parts of the printed surfaces. The matte varnish is applied to every area where the glossy impact isn’t needed. To illustrate, the matte varnish can deliver a glossy effect on specific parts while the remaining part of the packaging will remain soft and subtle. 

The Pros Of Using Varnish In Printing & Packaging 

To begin with, the varnish is responsible for adding an additional layer of quality to the packaging and box. It can also be used on the printed products which deliver protection from smudges and scuffs. In addition, it can improve the product’s perceived value. It can be applied through different processes, spot finishing being one of them. 

The best thing about varnish is the flexibility of application and it has the capacity to create an intense and distinctive appearance. Moreover, it can be applied to the wet ink during the printing procedure to ensure proper melding and will curate the unique style. As for dry trapping, the ink has to be dried before you add varnish through the press. 

The Cons Of Using Varnish In Printing & Printing 

There are always two sides to the coin, so how is it possible that there are no limitations or cons associated with varnish? For the most part, varnish doesn’t offer the protection that aqueous coating and UV coating do. In addition, it can create toxic by-products which impact eco-friendliness in a negative manner. 

Varnish Vs. Laminate 

For the most part, people often confuse varnish and laminate but they aren’t the same. Laminate and varnishes generally have a similar process of application; the layer of the material is added on the top of the product to create a soft or luxurious appearance. In addition, both varnish and laminate can add protection to the retail packaging from damages. 

However, it is essential to outline that lamination provides way more protection as compared to varnish. In the majority of cases, if the product doesn’t need too much handling, varnish makes an affordable option for adding a protective layer on the products without causing a dent in your bank account since laminates have higher costs.


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