Making the Right Choice: Comparing Varnish and Soft Touch Lamination

When it comes to enhancing the visual appeal and tactile experience of printed materials, two popular finishing options stand out: varnish and soft touch lamination. Both methods offer unique advantages, but choosing between them requires a clear understanding of their characteristics and the desired outcomes. In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between varnish and soft touch lamination, helping you make an informed decision for your project.


In the world of printing and design, the choice of finishing touches can significantly impact the overall quality and appeal of a piece. Varnish and soft touch lamination are two techniques that cater to these aspects, albeit in different ways. Whether you’re working on business cards, brochures, book covers, or any other printed materials, understanding the nuances of varnish and soft touch lamination can help you achieve your desired outcome.

Understanding Varnish

Varnish is a transparent liquid coating applied to printed materials to enhance their appearance and protect them from wear and tear. It adds a glossy or matte finish, intensifying colors and providing a layer of protection against moisture, fingerprints, and fading. Varnish works well for projects where vibrant colors and a glossy finish are desired, making images and text elements pop.


  • Magazines and Catalogs: Varnish can be strategically applied to highlight specific images or sections, creating visual contrast and engagement.
  • Brochures and Flyers: By using gloss varnish on certain elements, you can make details pop, leaving a lasting impression on readers.
  • Business Cards: A spot varnish can add an element of luxury and sophistication to your brand identity.

Exploring Soft Touch Lamination

Soft touch lamination, on the other hand, involves applying a thin film to printed materials, creating a velvety texture that is soft to the touch. This technique not only enhances visual appeal but also offers a luxurious tactile experience. Soft touch lamination is ideal for projects where a sophisticated, high-end feel is desired, such as luxury packaging, high-quality catalogs, and premium business cards.


  • Book Covers: Soft touch lamination creates an inviting texture that encourages readers to explore the content within.
  • Packaging: It’s a popular choice for high-end product packaging, giving an immediate sense of luxury to the product inside.
  • Invitations and Greeting Cards: The tactile sensation of soft touch lamination adds a personal touch to special occasion stationery.

Key Differences: Varnish vs. Soft Touch Lamination

AspectVarnishSoft Touch Lamination
TextureSmooth and glossySoft and velvety
Visual EffectGlossy sheenElegant, subdued finish
Tactile SensationMinimal tactile feelLuxuriously tactile
ProtectionModerate protection against
scuffs and scratches
Enhanced protection
and durability
CustomizationAvailable in various finishesOffers a consistent
soft texture

Tactile Experience: Varnish vs. Soft Touch Lamination

While varnish excels in boosting visual appeal, soft touch lamination takes it a step further by engaging the sense of touch. The velvety texture it imparts creates an immediate connection with the audience, elevating the perceived value of the printed material. Varnish lacks this tactile element but makes up for it with its glossy sheen.


Durability and Protection

In terms of durability and protection, both varnish and soft touch lamination offer benefits. Varnish acts as a protective layer against minor scuffs, moisture, and UV radiation. Soft touch lamination, however, provides a more robust shield, safeguarding against bending, creasing, and other forms of damage.

Cost Considerations

In the realm of cost, varnish tends to be more budget-friendly due to its straightforward application process. Soft touch lamination requires additional materials and labor, making it a pricier option. However, the enhanced perceived value it offers can justify the investment for certain projects.

Also Read About: Matte Lamination vs Glossy Lamination: Understanding the Key Differences

Environmental Impact

For those conscious of environmental impact, varnish is often considered the greener option. Varnish coatings can be water-based and emit fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compared to lamination films. Soft touch lamination typically involves plastic films, which can raise concerns about recyclability.

soft-touch -silk-lamination-in-printing

Choosing Based on Project Type

Selecting between varnish and soft touch lamination depends on your project’s nature. If you’re designing product packaging or promotional materials that demand an eye-catching finish, varnish might be the way to go. On the other hand, for luxury branding or materials requiring a tactile connection, soft touch lamination could be the ideal choice.

Factors to Consider

Several factors play into your decision-making process. Consider aspects like your target audience, the message you want to convey, your budget, and the durability required for the project. By aligning these factors with the unique strengths of varnish and soft touch lamination, you can make a well-informed decision.

Expert Recommendations

Industry experts recommend collaborating closely with your printer and discussing your project’s goals. Printers can provide valuable insights into which finishing technique aligns best with your objectives. Their experience can guide you toward the most suitable option for your specific needs.

Also Read About: Why Do Brands Prefer Custom Printed Paper Box Packaging?


In the dynamic world of printing and design, choosing between varnish and soft touch lamination is a pivotal decision that shapes the final look and feel of your materials. Each technique brings its own set of aesthetic and tactile benefits, and your choice should be based on a thorough understanding of your project’s requirements and the experience you want to offer your audience.


Welcome to the
Plus Printers

Your go-to destination for custom packaging tips, newest packaging trends, and inspiration. Follow Me
Product has been added to your cart

Have questions? We have answers

Fill out the form and your dedicated packaging consultant will get in touch!