Product Matters: Commercial Printing & Publication Paper

In any endeavor, you want to make sure you use the right tool for the job. But just like you wouldn’t use a butter knife to trim back tree branches, you also wouldn’t use a machete at the dinner table.  It’s not about what’s bigger, heavier, or more expensive; it’s about what meets your needs based on your intended application. In terms of paper, your choice depends on consumer expectations, lifespan of your product, and transportation needs. Here’s what you need to know about two of the most common types of commercial printing and publication grade papers: coated groundwood and coated freesheet.

Coated Groundwood

Coated groundwood is lightweight and cost effective, making it ideal for newsprint, where the lifespan of your product is rarely more than a week. The coating allows for easy printing and some short term protection. The lighter base weight is essential in keeping transport and dissemination convenient and cost-effective for both the distributor and the end user, and the need for frequent printed editions eliminates any requirement for long-term durability. But this does not translate to lower quality; coated groundwood prints reliably well. All of these features are essential to the newsprint industry.

If your particular application requires more durability, though, you may want to look elsewhere.  Coated groundwood does change color over time when exposed to light and has a higher opacity.

Coated Freesheet

By contrast, coated freesheet is thicker, heavier, far more durable, and has less opacity. These features are what make coated freesheet perfect for richly printed monthly magazine publications. The material of magazines must withstand at least a month of heavy readership, and needs to appealingly display the image-based advertising usually featured in them, which rules out coated groundwood as an adequate solution. Additionally, the higher cost of coated freesheet is generally justified because of the higher ad quality the glossy paper provides its buyers.

As with all decisions regarding product materials, much of this feeds into your brand image. Consumers expect a more substantial material if they’ve paid a more substantial price, or when a brand is considered exclusive or upscale. Whereas to portray an “everyman” brand image, or in cases where illustrating good financial stewardship is critical to your business, using a thick, glossy product could send the wrong message. Choosing the right commercial printing paper grade comes down to cost-benefit, and what we traditionally think of as drawbacks can sometimes be assets when applied to the right circumstances – it’s all about choosing the right tool to get the job done.

For information on the features and benefits of coated groundwood, freesheet commercial printing and publication grade papers, or any other paper and packaging product, connect with one of NORKOL’s family of paper experts via the Contact page.