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Foil Stamping vs. Screen Printing Gold and Silver — 3 Major Differences

Learn how different image infusion methods (foil stamping or screen printing) can affect the glossiness, aesthetic features and cost of your custom binder

The three main differences between Foil Stamping gold and silver and Screen Printing are the glossiness of the image, aesthetic feature, and cost by coverage.

The process of foil stamping is the application of a metallic foil being heated on to the vinyl cover of your three-ring binder.  This metallic foil, similar to a gold or silver leafing, is shiny and contains reflective properties that catch the light to create a shimmering image of your artwork.

Conversely, screen printing gold or silver ink produces a flat or matte image of the artwork, and although the ink has a metallic base, it simply does not have the high shine of the foil.

Foil stamping promotes a luxury feel to the custom piece you are designing and would be attractive to consumers with high expectations of distinction.  Screen printing is no slouch and achieves a clean image with a twinkle of metallic, and coupling with other upgrades such as padded board, Castilian vinyl, inside pockets and business card holders will drive focus to your binder.

One other advantage of screen printing gold or silver ink verses foil stamping is the cost of coverage difference.

Screen printing is less expensive than foil stamping overall, and can also be placed anywhere* (see below) on the front and spine of the binder for the same cost as if placed only in one small place on the front cover.  Screen printing can also be used on the back panel for a nominal charge.

(*there are limitations in heavy coverage, and silver/gold inks may not bleed off the edge of the binders)

However, foil stamping cost is based on location and square inch coverage.  The overall square inch coverage of your artwork is considered in the per piece pricing of the stamping as well as figuring the cost of the stamping die that is required in the initial order.

In summary, most of our customers use screen printing because of the flexibility of the coverage and cost savings.   Keep in mind your target audience and whether the upscale appearance of foil stamping will attract them to your brand.

Additional facts of screen printing and foil stamping to consider include:

  • Screen printing can be used on both vinyl and poly material but Foil Stamping is only for vinyl material
  • Screen printing inks have many color choices and most Pantone colors can be matched closely although not exact.  Foil stamping for vinyl material is only available in the gold and silver foil.

In closing, understanding the purpose behind your binder and the target audience should drive the decision between screen printing and foil stamping. While screen printing may not be as shiny, it does have other benefits in terms of functionality, color options and costs. However, if your binder materials really need to grab attention and impress, it may be wise to consider foil stamping.

To help you decide the best option, we invite you to view some samples of both foil stamping and screen printing, and call one of our expert custom binder consultants today to discuss your needs.

We also invite you to continue browsing our website, knowledge center and FAQs to learn more about three-ring binders and how we help companies large and small develop solutions for organizing and presenting information.


Debossing is creating an indent in the material to create an impression. A metal die is stamped onto the front of the material you are using causing depressions that leave a (debossed) imprint of the image on your material.