Gloss vs. Matte Finish: Which One is Best for My Poster?

6/24/2019

Gloss vs. Matte Finish: Which One is Best for My Poster?

A few well-chosen, well-placed posters can transform any room from bare and generic to bright and loaded with a distinct personality. When shopping for posters, however, many consumers forget to ask themselves one of the most fundamental questions of printing: Do I want a gloss or matte finish?

The finish is a crucial consideration when you’re ordering a custom printed poster, and it’s also essential when you’re buying posters off the rack or online. Unfortunately, though, there’s a general lack of understanding of what “gloss” and “matte” mean and how they impact what the final product will look like on the wall. Let’s take a few minutes to define terms, clear up a few misunderstandings, and share some design tips!

Defining “Gloss” and “Matte”

Gloss: A shiny, light-reflecting finish that’s designed to catch the eye and emphasize color contrast

Matte: A flat, shine-free finish that’s designed to emphasize depth and detail without creating a glare

When a Glossy Poster is Best

Most printers will tell you that if you’re unsure whether you want a gloss or matte finish poster, you should probably go with gloss. Glossy posters are versatile, and, for many people, that shiny, reflective finish is part of what makes posters such exciting design elements.

Rooms Where Glossy Posters Shine

Gloss-finish posters are perfect for decorating kids’ rooms, workout rooms, “man caves,” or any other space where you’re trying to inject personality, light, and color on a budget. Thanks to their reflective coating, glossy posters look their best on walls that have even, consistent lighting.

Posters That Demand the Glossy Treatment

If your poster is exploding with color or movement, gloss is the way to go! Glossy finish helps colors pop against one another and creates the illusion of depth in images that look a little flat. Generally, cartoony or sports-related posters look great in gloss.

When a Matte Poster is Best

Matte finish is best for situations where you’re trying to cut down on glare and emphasize detail over color. Whether you’re displaying a very dark poster, planning on framing under glass, or decorating in a high-light space, matte posters reduce the distracting power of light and invite viewer engagement.

Rooms Where Matte Posters Make a Difference

Matte-finish posters are ideal for places that are flooded with natural light or lit from overhead in ways that might cast distracting reflections onto the poster. This is especially true if you’re planning to frame your poster under glass, as the glass creates a second reflective surface that can make your poster tougher to see in certain conditions. As your poster (and glass pane) increase in size, this effect is usually heightened, so if you’re hoping to frame a full-sized movie poster, consider a matte finish!

Posters That Look Best in Matte

If your image is loaded with detail or has a sophisticated sense of perspective or depth, a matte finish eliminates glare and invites viewers to lean in and study the picture more closely. Most archivists and photographers also agree that black-and-white photos and posters are more comfortable to view and appreciate in a matte finish, as the reduced reflection makes details sharper.

If you’re looking to create a poster from a photo, our Poster Burner team would love to help you transform any photograph or image into the perfect conversation piece for your space. We offer posters in a wide variety of sizes, any of which can be configured with either gloss or matte finish to ensure that your poster has both the perfect image and finish for your needs.