Coatings and Laminates for Label Printing

A coating or lamination protects the surface of your label from scuffing while protecting your graphics (your branding). Coatings and laminates protect your label from various environmental elements and product spills. They can add vibrancy and luster to your label colors.

Columbine Label offers a wide range of coated and laminated labels to meet the varied needs of our clients. Alas, not all custom printed labels require a coating or laminate. Discuss your product’s specifications and requirements with our team, experienced label experts that will help you select the right coating, or laminate (OR NOT) to protect your label.

laminate varnish coating

laminate varnish label coating

Which coating or laminate is right for your product?


With over 30 years of experience in the label printing business, our customers rely on our depth of expertise when it comes to coatings, lamination, paper versus film, Digital versus Flexographic, and more. Plus, they appreciate our consistent color management, on-time delivery, and “can do” customer service attitude.


A varnish is a clear liquid coating that is applied to a printed surface to add a glossy or matte finish, protect the print from wear and tear, and enhance its appearance.

Water-based varnish, or Aqueous varnish,

Water-based varnish, also known as aqueous coating, is best suited for indoor applications and adds a minimal layer of protection to the label from smudging, smearing, or scuffing. This coating is typically flood coated (full coverage) on the label after all inks. Water-based coatings add a bit of ink vibrance which, conversely, is somewhat muted compared to a gloss laminate. Consequently, a water-based coating is not the best solution for oil-based products, bath and shower products, or products that require heavier resistance to scuffing.

Imprintable varnishes

Imprintable varnish allows the label surface to be written on or printed on through various means. Most importantly, be sure to specify the printing method and type of ink you will use for secondary printing on your labels.  Your printing method may require a specific imprintable varnish. Imprintable varnish can be applied with full coverage or spot coverage. Hence, since most imprintable varnishes produce a matte appearance, spot varnish might be suitable for the look you are striving for.

UV varnish

UV varnish adds a durable finish to the label with either a glossy look or a matte finish.  A glossy UV varnish will bring out vibrant colors, while a matte UV varnish will tone down the color somewhat. Keep in mind, UV varnish does not make the label UV resistant. The name derives from the fact that UV varnishes are cured with UV lights. If your label requires UV resistance, we recommend using a UV-resistant laminate.


Lamination is the process of applying a protective layer or film to the surface of a printed material

Gloss laminate

Gloss laminate is a thin layer of film applied on top of the label (after ink). Its purpose is to provide a glossy finish that is highly resistant to scuffing. It also helps the label resist tearing. Gloss laminates are available in varying materials; thermal transfer imprintable, outdoor suitable, UV resistant, and more. It is best to discuss your needs with your label representative as the gloss laminate material will be dependent on the application and use.

Matte laminate

This type of laminate provides a durable matte finish that helps to protect the label from spills and most tears. Matte laminate is available in a variety of film materials. Your label representative can help you determine which film is best for your application.

Soft-touch laminate

Soft-touch laminate, also known as soft-sense laminate, provides a durable matte finish appearance that helps to protect the label from spills, scuffing, and most tears. There is a physical property to the Soft-touch laminate that gives it a subtle soft velvet feel. Furthermore, we use soft-touch laminate for its pleasing feel, which can evoke emotions and influence consumers to purchase your product.

Polyester laminate

This type of laminate is a highly durable and somewhat rigid film thus protecting the label from scuffing, tearing, and outdoor elements. Polyester laminate provides a degree of UV resistance which offers some protection from colors fading from direct sunlight.

Want to learn more? Explore our full range of capabilities and label types.

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