Lamination vs Varnishing

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 label experts have provided some advice below.


Apply a varnish over printed 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. But they don’t hold up as long as lamination.

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


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