AQ FINISH (Aqueous coating) is a clear, fast-drying water-based coating that is used to protect printed pieces. It provides a high-gloss or matte surface that deters dirt and fingerprints. Aqueous coating improves the durability of postcards and other mailed pieces as they go through the mail, and protects business cards as they are carried in peoples’ wallets. It also looks beautiful on brochures, catalog covers, and presentation folders. Aqueous coatings provide more substantial scuff-resistance than varnishes. Aqueous is typically applied to the entire printed piece, usually by the last unit on a printing press. Due to its water base, aqueous coating is more environmentally friendly than varnish or UV coatings.

UV COATINGS are cured by exposure to ultraviolet light to quickly dry and harden the coating. UV coatings provide the highest gloss versus other coatings but may crack when scored or folded due to the thickness and hardness of the coating. Some find it too shiny for some uses. UV coatings can be applied as a flood (covering the entire printed sheet) or as a spot coating and can be applied on or off press. UV compatible inks must be used on sheets that will be UV coated. UV coated sheets can not be foil stamped and embossing should be done after the coating. UV coatings also are more likely to show fingerprints than either aqueous coatings or varnish, and some UV coatings can make paper difficult to fold.