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Varnish vs. Laminate

The purpose of a varnish or laminate is to protect your printed label from exposure to moisture, abrasion and light, as well as things like smudges and fingerprints. A varnish or laminate can also boost the visual appeal of your label with a smoother, glossier finish. If you want a more rustic, natural look, with texture and no shine, then you should avoid using a top coat. But 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?

Varnish Example | Avery WePrint


Varnishes are liquid coatings applied over printed labels to seal and protect the ink. They're available in gloss or matte finishes and are usually matched to the underlying paper i.e., matte varnish for matte paper and glossy varnish for glossy papers. Varnishes are typically less expensive than laminates but they also typically don't hold up as long.

  • Offers protection against scuffs & abraisions
  • Matte varnishes provide a muted look on upscale products
  • Gloss varnishes are not quite as shiny as laminates & are often used on indoor items
Laminate Example | Avery WePrint


Lamination provides the ultimate in protection for your label. It’s 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. Available in both gloss and matte finishes, as well Thermal Transfer for secondary printing, lamination is also great if you want a more pronounced sheen and texture than varnish. With a gloss laminate you get a shiny, polished finish, while 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 food & beverage items, health & beauty products or for items that face tough environments or that come in contact with chemicals

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