How to Laminate Paper? Step by Step Guide

Not all kinds of papers are important, but there are some very special ones that we need to keep safe. Important documents, old photographs, maps, memorabilia and sentimental letters, marriage licenses, birth and death certificates - these are the kind of papers that need to be kept safe from dirt, water, liquid, time and dust.

The perfect way to keep such paper and documents safe from any kind of harm is to laminate them.

Why Laminate Paper? 

The process of lamination - in particular, laminating paper - means to enclose an ordinary piece of paper between two sheets of transparent plastic. The plastic will protect the piece of paper against spills and dirt, food stain, tear or dust, and keeps it durable for years.

There are mainly two reasons behind laminating a piece of paper: to keep a valuable document safe from harm, or to keep on using the same piece of paper multiple times.

The most common example of laminating paper can be found in local restaurants where the menus are usually laminated to protect the paper inside from spills, food splatters and ears. It makes businesses easier to reuse the same menu for a long time.

Other businesses, commercial spaces, organizations and offices, even households laminate some important documents to keep them safe.

Lamination prevents destruction of very important documents as it cannot be accidentally harmed without using a sharp object or fire. It improves the appearance of color and design - if any - of the paper by enhancing the ink quality; a piece of laminated paper won’t be smudged by fingerprints or greasy hands.

How to Laminate Paper? 

Usually, printers and hardware shops provide laminating services to everyone. If you have papers you want to laminate for safekeeping or durability, all you need to do is to any hardware shops that provide the service.

There are, however, other methods of laminating paper if you want to do it at home.

Using a Laminating Machine 

The same kind of laminating machines that are used in hardware shops and printing businesses can also be used at home. If your business or work, or your household, requires you to laminate a lot of paper or photographs regularly, it makes perfect sense to buy a laminating machine instead of repeated trips to somewhere else.

Laminating machines aren’t very expensive, and they are also quite portable. You can keep them anywhere at home, even inside cabinets and drawers.

Most laminating machines are long and slim, and can accept any piece of paper of the standard size: 8.5” x 11” letter size. The machines are easy to use and come with one or two buttons to operate.

A laminating machine needs to be warmed up several minutes before using it; an indicator light on the machine will let you know when the machine is ready for use. To use a laminating machine, you’ll also need special laminating pouches for the job.

These are pouches made of transparent pouches where you can place the sheet of paper inside, enclosing it between the two parts of plastic. You can find these laminating pouches in any hardware store.

The pouch, with the paper inside, needs to be placed inside the carrier of the laminating machine; the carrier, then, needs to be fed inside the machine. The sealed end of the carrier needs to be fed into the machine first.

The laminating machine will do the rest of the work, and ultimately, the carrier will come out of it. Allow it to cool for a few minutes, and then remove the pouch from the carrier. The document will be sealed inside the plastic laminating pouch, which you can trim if necessary.

Using Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets

If you don’t want to invest in a laminating machine or if you only rarely need to laminate your documents, you can use self-adhesive sheets for the job, with the same end results. These sheets are also available in local hardware shops or the hardware aisle of your regular grocery shop.

These sheets come with a backing at the bottom, and an adhesive sheet on the top. The backing usually has grids, which helps in placing your documents properly. The top adhesive part needs to be removed carefully so that you don’t leave any fingerprints on it.

If the backing has grids, lay down the self-adhesive sheet on the backing sheet adhesive side up. Place your documents on the adhesive side of the transparent sheet, facing any way; you can use the grid of the backing as the guide. Hold down the edges of your paper or document, but be careful not to leave any fingerprints on the adhesive.

Remove another self-adhesive sheet from the backing, and discard the backing. Place the self-adhesive sheet on top of the document sitting on the previous sheet, adhesive side down. The two adhesive sides of the two sheets will stick to each other, trapping the document in between.

Be careful in placing the second adhesive sheet as there shouldn’t be any kind of air bubbles or wrinkles inside the edges. You can use a scraping tool or a credit card to smooth out the two sheets. If needed, you can trim the edges of the adhesive sheets, but be sure to leave at least 2mm of space along the borders so that the sheets don't open up.

Using Clean Packing Tape

This is not a very efficient way to laminate your important documents or papers, or a very durable way. Besides, this method is only possible for laminating smaller pieces of paper instead of standard-sized documents or legal documents.

If you want to laminate photographs or business cards, name tags or labels, bookmarks and similar paper objects, you can use transparent packing tape. These transparent packing tapes can be found anywhere: hardware stores, grocery stores and local stationery shops.

The method is a simple one. Choose a packing tape that’s transparent and thin. The adhesive should be on one side, and the packing tape should have a single layer. Keep the piece of paper you want to laminate ready and roll out the necessary amount of packing tape.

You can cut off the piece you need or keep it attached to the roll. Keep the packing tape on a stable and hard surface, adhesive side up. Take the piece of paper you want to laminate and place in one the adhesive side of the packing tape.

You can place the paper on any side, as you are going to laminate both sides of it. Cut off the packing tape as much as you need with a pair of scissors if you haven’t done so yet.

Roll the packing tape further until you have the exact measurement of the previous piece of tape. With enough area for the edges, fold the packing tape over the piece of paper and cover it completely.

You can also cut the second piece of packing tape before hand and place it over the first piece of packing tape, covering your piece of paper completely. Trim the edges so that all the edges are of equal size. There should be at least 2mm of edge at all sides so that the packing tape doesn’t open up.

Using Synthetic Paper and An Iron

Synthetic paper is similar to plastic, but also feels like regular paper when you touch it. These synthetic papers are transparent and you can get them in local stationery shops.

Synthetic papers come in double layers, and you need to put your piece of paper inside the pouch. Position it in the middle of the pouch if it is a standard sized paper; you can also place multiple papers inside the single pouch if they are smaller.

Place the paper(s) accordingly, and place the synthetic paper pouch on a flat surface, i.e. a table or a counter. Place a towel on top of the synthetic pouch.

Set your iron to medium heat and place it on top of the towel. Hold it for 30 seconds, after making sure that the iron has covered the whole pouch for at least 30 seconds. The heat from the iron will melt the heat-sensitive adhesive on the synthetic paper, and the two layers will stick to each other, enclosing the paper(s) between them.

Remove the iron and the towel, and give the synthetic pouch a few minutes to cool dowwn completely.

Conclusion

Laminating your photographs, important documents, labels, name tags and business cards can make them durable and long-lasting.

You can save them from spills and tears, damage and harm; whether you use a laminating machine or simpler methods, laminating your papers and photographs will keep them around for much longer.

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