Paper coating formulations containing starch, latex, and clay were applied to paperboard and have been investigated by scanning electron microscopy and Peak Force tapping atomic force microscopy. A special focus has been on the measurement of the variation of the surface topography and surface material properties with a nanometer scaled spatial resolution. The effects of coating composition and drying conditions were investigated. It is concluded that the air-coating interface of the coating is dominated by close-packed latex particles embedded in a starch matrix and that the spatial distribution of the different components in the coating can be identified due to their variation in material properties. Drying the coating at an elevated temperature compared to room temperature changes the surface morphology and the surface material properties due to partial film formation of latex. However, it is evident that the chosen elevated drying temperature and exposure time is insufficient to ensure complete film formation of the latex which in an end application will be needed.