Varnish vs. Laminate – What’s Right for You?

Varnished labels vs. laminate labels printed by Avery WePrint printing services

You should use a varnish or laminate when you want to protect your printed label from exposure to moisture, abrasion, and light, as well as things like smudges and fingerprints. Also, a varnish or laminate can boost the visual appeal of your label with a smoother, glossier finish. If you want a more natural look with texture and no shine then you should avoid a topcoat. However, if your label needs protection from the elements and you want to keep it looking good for a long time, then you should definitely consider a varnish or finish.

So then, what’s the right finish for you? Our Avery label experts have provided some insights into the difference between varnishes and laminates so you can decide what you need.


Apply varnish overprinted labels to seal and protect the ink and the label. The liquid coating is available in gloss or matte finishes, and usually matches the underlying paper i.e., matte varnish for matte paper and glossy varnish for glossy papers. Varnishes typically cost less than laminates but they also don’t hold up as long.

  • Protects against scuffs & abrasions
  • Gives a muted look on upscale products with a matte varnish
  • Gloss varnishes aren’t as shiny as laminates

Spot Varnishes

Spot varnish is the application of high-gloss varnish to certain parts of a label, while the remaining parts have a matte varnish coating.  The technique gives a distinctive look and contrast to your labels. It can help elevate specific elements in your design to create eye-catching contrast and depth.

To order spot varnish, go through the regular process of ordering roll labels and after approving your design, you will be able to add a special request. Simply type in “spot varnish” and an Avery rep will contact you to discuss the placement of the varnish on your design.


Apply laminates for the ultimate label protection. The coating is available in a thin bi-oriented polypropylene film (BOPP) or Thermal Transfer (TT) polyester that’s applied after printing to seal and protect the ink. Also, laminates come in both gloss and matte finishes, as well as Thermal Transfer for secondary printing. It’s also great if you want a more pronounced sheen and texture than varnish. With a gloss laminate, you get a shiny, polished finish.  On the other hand,  matte lamination offers a smooth, no-glare finish.

  • Ideal for labels that will be exposed to moisture, abrasion & light
  • Highly recommended for products that are packed, shipped or shelved
  • Great for items that face tough environments or that come in contact with chemical

For more information or help placing an order, please contact us or Customer Care Team at 800-942-8379 for more information.


Author: Melanie Neff

Melanie has an extensive writing background built on an impressive journalism foundation. As a journalist for USA Today and The Los Angeles Times for almost 20 years, she covered everything from the Los Angeles riots, fires and floods to LA Lakers and Clippers games and movie premieres. She followed her newspaper career with a long tenure covering commercial real estate financing and development. Melanie has currently been writing about small business marketing and labeling needs for the past 10 years. She thrives on reading, researching and expanding her knowledge of everything going on in today's business world and looks to provide the most valuable information she can to her readers.

2 thoughts on “Varnish vs. Laminate – What’s Right for You?”

  1. Inquiring about your textured laminates. Do you have a product line for using in conjunction with self-adhesive vinyl?
    I’d be interested in samples:

    1. Hi Steve,
      I sent your comment to our Account Services team. They should be reaching out to you early next week.

      Thanks for reading!

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