Lamination is the process by which a plastic, vinyl, or similar material covers an existing document or object to improve its durability. Items can be laminated in several different ways. Laminating sheets and pouches are the most common methods for small projects.
There are key differences between laminating sheets and pouches. Today we will discuss how they differ and when to choose one over the other.
What is a laminating sheet?
A laminating sheet is a thin sheet of vinyl or plastic with an adhesive backing. To use it, you remove the backing, carefully apply the sheet over the object, and press down firmly. Laminating sheets are applied using gentle pressure, not heat. This makes them ideal to protect documents or add durability and waterproofing to objects. You will need to use your fingers or a squeegee to get a smooth surface and to remove bubbles.
What is a laminating pouch?
Laminating pouches differ from sheets because they have a sealed side that creates a pocket. Rather than placing your object under the sheet, you slide it inside the pouch. This provides completed coverage (back and front).
While there are some cold laminating pouches that are self sealing, most pouches need to be sealed with a heat source.
Laminating pouches offer more protection than sheets, especially when sealed with heat. The pouches create a firm 360 degree barrier, making this method ideal for documents like paper ID cards and menus. Since the pouch is not as flexible as the sheet, it is not used to lay over irregular objects like a tumbler.
Can you print directly onto laminating sheets or pouches?
No. Laminating sheets are for protection only; you cannot print on them.
Can you use laminating sheets or pouches for DIY projects?
Absolutely! The world of laminating sheets and pouches really opens up your DIY project potential. Laminating creates a waterproof barrier, meaning your stickers, murals, signs, tumbler designs, etc., can see a lifespan increase of five years or more. While some applications require heat or professional sealing, there are many projects you can do at home with laminating sheets or pouches.
Can you use laminating sheets or pouches at a copy shop?
There are times when you may need a copy shop to help complete your project – namely if you are using a heat sealing laminating pouch.
Not everyone has a heat sealer at home. When using a copy shop to help complete a project, call ahead or check their website to ensure your pouch is compatible with their sealer. Or, the shop may prefer you to bring in the documents while they provide the pouches. Make an appointment ahead of time if you have a lot of documents to seal, or a large project to complete.
When to choose a laminating sheet
Choose a laminating sheet for any project that needs thin, flexible protection such as covering a sticker on a tumbler. Use laminating sheets for documents that only need protection on one side, and for hard-surface objects and irregular shapes.
For small projects like stickers, print your design directly onto printable vinyl, then cover it with a laminating sheet and cut it out.
Laminating sheets are commonly used on:
- Small signs
When to choose a laminating pouch
Choose a laminating pouch for documents that need 360 degrees of firm protection.
Laminating pouches are commonly used for:
- ID cards
How long does the laminating process last?
Laminating sheets can, under ideal circumstances, add five or more years of protection. Laminating pouches, especially when heat sealed, can last even longer. To extend the life of the lamination, avoid picking or peeling it.
Lamination can be tricky! Here are some easy fixes for common issues:
How to cover an 8×11 document with an 8×11 laminating sheet:
- Use a grid to help line up both documents.
- Line up the documents, then peel the backing off the top corner of the sheet and apply it. Slowly remove the backing, pressing down to create the seal inch by inch.
- Avoid removing the backing and “dropping” the sheet over to the document.
- Always apply the laminating sheet carefully and slowly.
- Don’t work in an area that has strong airflow (by a window or under a fan) otherwise you risk the sheet moving and sticking where you don’t want it to.
Bubbles or wrinkles appear when the sheet is applied to hard surface or irregular object:
- Apply the laminating sheet slowly by first removing a bit of the backing, then keep removing the backing slowly while pulling the sheet down, smoothing with your fingers or a squeegee at every newly covered inch.
The laminating sheet doesn’t seal:
- Apply firm pressure.
- If the adhesive is not tacky it may have been stored improperly (in a location that is too hot or too cold).
- Don’t forget to remove the protective backing!
Heat-sealed laminating pouch is cloudy or not properly sealed
- Issues with laminating pouches are most often related to the machine used to seal them. Before inserting the pouch and document, check and double check the temperature and pressure settings. It is very difficult – and most often impossible – to undo a heat seal. Before using a pouch on important documents, do a test run to ensure the machine is calibrated properly.
Where to find laminating sheets and pouches
Laminating sheets and pouches are available wherever office supplies are sold, and can also be purchased online. When you obtain your sheets or pouches, avoid storing them in direct sunlight or in a cold location. You get the best results when they are stored at room temperature.
Both laminating sheets and pouches offer protection for documents and crafting projects. They are for protection only; you cannot print on them.
Sheets are thick, flexible, and used to lightly protect one side of documents, or to cover designs over hard, irregular surfaces. Sheets are ideal to cover stickers, adding years of durability to the design. When laminating sheets are applied over stickers on items like plates or mugs, they introduce waterproofing in addition to increased durability. Issues with laminating sheets are usually related to insufficient steady pressure when applying the sheet, applying too quickly, removing too much of the backing before starting the application process, or using sheets that have dried/cold adhesive.
Laminating pouches are available in self and heat sealing. Heat seal pouches are the most common way to add extra durability to important documents like ID cards. If you do not have your own heat sealer, you can go to a local copy shop. Be sure to call ahead to see if you need to bring your own pouches, or if they are provided in the price of the service. Heat sealing is permanent, so do a test run with a non-essential document first. Pouches provide much more protection than sheets but cannot be used on irregular objects. Pouches are for documents that need 360 degrees of protection. Issues with laminating pouches are almost always related to heat, which is why test runs are so important.
It is easy to get laminating sheets or pouches in store or online. Buy from a retailer that stores their lamination products at room temperature and has a good reputation for outstanding customer service.
Royal Elements sells high quality laminating sheets for your DIY projects. Our sheets are premium quality and guaranteed to provide outstanding results when used according to the instructions. To learn more about laminating sheets and the other items we sell, check out our blog. We love to see the project you do using Royal Elements vinyl. Post your results online with the hashtag #royalelementsstickers so we can feature your designs on our social networks (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube).
Visit https://www.amazon.com/royalelements to get your laminating sheets today.