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Matte vs Glossy Poster:  What's the Difference?

Gloss Poster Displayed on Wall | Wallhogs

Most people simply purchase a poster without any regard to the type of finish, matte or gloss, however, you are here because you want to learn more about the type of finishes available and which one would be best for your custom personal poster.

     When decorating your walls with personal mementos you want to ensure your photographs or artwork looks terrific once enlarged and printed onto high-quality poster paper. With nearly two decades of experience in the wide-format digital print industry, we want to help you make the best choice and will provide you with the information required to make your decision.

Matte & Gloss Definitions

     There are actually five different types of poster paper finishes: matte, satin, semi-gloss, gloss, and high or super gloss. However, the two most common and popular choices carried by printers are matte and gloss finishes.

  • Gloss:  A surface luster or brightness. Several layers of a coating are applied to a specific weight of paper that maintains a “shiny” finish. The glossy finish’s reflective shine provides images with rich, vibrant colors and a high contrast level where colors “pop” and blacks appear deep and rich. This is the most popular finish choice.
  • Matte:  Lacking luster or gloss such as having a smooth, even surface free of shine or highlights. Utilizes the same coating as gloss finishes, however, only a single layer is applied to the paper, thereby giving it a flat, dull finish. Matte finishes are intended to enhance depth and detail while minimizing glare.

     As you can view in the images below the gloss posters contrast and color are much more vivid compared to the same image printed on matte poster on the right.

Gloss Poster Example | Wllhogs

Gloss Poster

Matte Poster Example | Wallhogs

Matte Poster

Gloss Finish Posters

     The most popular poster type printed for both custom and off-the-rack posters. The most popular sizes are 18”x24” and 24”x36” but at Wallhogs we also offer eight additional sizes, all the way up to 48”x96” (4’x8’).

Advantages of Gloss Finish Posters

     The shiny or reflective coating on gloss posters tends to enhance colors, making them much more vibrant and colorful. This coating also boosts contrasts in black and darker colors and assists in defining edges. It also provides an ultra-smooth finish that is pleasing to the eye – meaning more people with engage with it. This type of poster is best suited for:

  • Photographs or artwork that have very bright, rich, vibrant colors.
  • Photos with movement or living creatures.
  • Posters that will not be framed, or framed without the glass.

Disadvantages of Gloss Finish Posters

     The disadvantage of gloss posters all comes down to the shiny coating that provides the gloss finish. These shortcomings include:

  • Fingerprints: The gloss finish is more vulnerable to showing fingerprints on the gloss surface. These fingerprints are very difficult to clean due to the possibility of scratching the gloss coating.
  • Scratches: The gloss surface is easily scratchable and when scratched is very noticeable.
  • Glass Frames: These types of posters do not frame well with glass frames. The glass from the frame intensifies the glare, making it more difficult to view the image.
  • Glare: Gloss finishes require lighting that Is more even and consistent. Bright lighting of spotlights tends to produce too much glare, making it difficult to view through the glare.

Best Room Types for Displaying Gloss Posters

  • Spaces that have even, consistent lighting – no spotlights or direct sunlight projecting onto the poster.
  • Rooms where you are attempting to interject color.
Gloss Poster of Painting | Wallhogs

Gloss poster with rich, vivid colors, but also hot spots or glare from light reflecting.

Matte Finish Posters

Advantages of Matte Finish Posters

  • Photographs or artwork that have very little color where you are attempting to emphasize detail over color.
  • Still photos of architecture or black/white, grayscale, or sepia-toned images. Also, for posters that contain a great deal of text.
  • Printing of a very dark-colored poster.
  • Placing the poster in a frame that has a glass front.
  • Absorbs light so there is less glare when viewing the poster.

    Disadvantages of Matte Finish Posters

    • Colors are very flat and dull – not anywhere near as vibrant as gloss.
    • Matte finishes reduce the sharpness and contrast of images and are not intended for hi-definition photos.

    Best Room Types to Display Matte Posters In

    • Spaces that are very will be lite with lighting or natural light.
Matte Poster of Painting | Wallhogs

Matte poster with muted colors, but no hot spots or glare.

So, Which One?

      As you’ve learned there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of finish. As stated above, the majority of people select the gloss finish due to the color vibrancy and contrast offered. It will all come down to the subject in your image and where the poster will be displayed.

     If you are still unsure you can email your image to our customer service team, at cs@wallhogs.com, and they can review it and make a recommendation.

     Wallhogs wall décor experts are always available for you to speak with Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST using our toll-free number, (877) 900-4647, or via email 24 hours a day at cs@wallhogs.com. They can answer any questions you may have pertaining to vinyl or fabric wall stickers or decals, as well as, murals.

Custom Reusable Vinyl Wall Decal Product & Order Page
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Custom Reusable Vinyl Wall Decal Product & Order Page
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Wall Decal Sizing & Cutting Sample

Custom Reusable Vinyl Wall Decal

$12.99
Wallhogs Vinyl Wall Decal material is intended for use as wall decals or stickers.  This white vinyl maintains an adhesive that may be removed and reused up to 5 times - without leaving any residue, and is intended for temperature controlled, indoor use only on smooth, flat painted surfaces.  The media features a semi-gloss based finish that is both UV and water resistant and requires a three business day production turnaround time.
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Customer Installed Custom Die-Cut Photo-Tex Wall Decals
Photo-Tex Wall Decal Sizing & Cutting Sample
Fabric Transfer Tape for Install Text or Small Graphics
Custom Reusable Photo-Tex Wall Decal Product & Order Page
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Customer Installed Custom Die-Cut Photo-Tex Wall Decals
Customer Installed Custom Die-Cut Photo-Tex Wall Decals
Photo-Tex Wall Decal Sizing & Cutting Sample
Fabric Transfer Tape for Install Text or Small Graphics

Custom Reusable Photo-Tex Wall Decal Fabric

$24.99
Wallhogs Photo-Tex Fabric is intended for use as wall decals or murals.  This white, finely woven polyester fabric maintains an adhesive that may be removed and reused up to 100 times - without leaving any residue, and is intended for indoor or outdoor use on smooth, flat painted surfaces or slightly textured surfaces (orange peel, eggshell, etc).  The media features a semi-gloss based finish that is both UV resistant and weatherproof and requires a five business day production turnaround time.
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Fabric Transfer Tape for Install Text or Small Graphics
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Customer Installed Custom Die-Cut Photo-Tex EXS Building & Sign Decals
Customer Installed Custom Printed As-Is Photo-Tex EXS Door Decals
Custom Photo-Tex EXS Hi-Tack Wall Decal Fabric
Fabric Transfer Tape for Install Text or Small Graphics

Custom Photo-Tex EXS Hi-Tack Wall Decal Fabric

$29.99
Wallhogs Photo-Te EXS Hi-Tack Fabric is intended for use as permanent wall decals or murals.  This white, finely woven polyester fabric maintains a permanent adhesive and is intended for indoor or outdoor use on smooth to medium textured, painted surfaces.  The media features a semi-gloss based finish that is both UV resistant and weatherproof and requires a five business day production turnaround time.

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