Wednesday, 28 December 2011

10 Tips for Laminating your Printables!

Laminating and packaging your printables such as worksheets and card games are so much fun! The most important tool is the type of laminator you choose. Use one with multiple heat settings for different types of paper. This prevents paper jamming and wrinkling. Laminating machines should also have an automatic safety shut off feature. Layering assortments of paper or cardstock in white and bright colors will give you beautifully laminated sheets that have popping colors. You may also need cutting tools and some sort of adhesive for sticking up your laminated posters or signs. 

As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a commission for purchases using my links. Learn moreIf you are an addict like I am, here are a few tips that can make using a laminator quick, easy and safe.   

  • Laminating machine quality: It is preferable to use a machine that has multiple heat settings for different paper thicknesses. Older or cheaper machines may have limited options for temperature adjustments and this can lead to either under-heating or over-heating. If your laminator is too hot, it would cause the paper in the pouch to come out wrinkled with folds and dents. If it is too cold, it could lead to air pockets. The solution to both scenarios is to re-laminate it (pass it through a second time) at the right temperature setting, according to the paper thickness. This would iron out the wrinkles and seal out the air pockets.  For A4 sized laminating of large classroom posters, use a large laminator like this one.

  • Paper color: The color of paper is really important. I love these for printing large and bright bulletin board letters, then I laminate them. For write-on-wipe-off worksheets that are 'black and white', you can print on colored paper, even the bright fluorescent ones! These are especially great for posters, name tags and things that you need to POP out visually. It's a cost-effective way of having color without needing colored ink! 

  • Student safety: Laminating and cutting a page leads to sharp corners. You can either stack the pages three at a time to nick off the sharp corner with a scissors in a curving direction for a smooth round off or you can use a nail file to round off the laminated edges so that it does not seem obvious e.g. for playing cards.
  • Even more durability: For super durability, when cutting out your laminated cards or posters, do not cut along the edge of the paper or within the paper area, instead cut beyond the edge of the paper where the two sheets of the laminating pouch touch.  This creates a truly airtight and waterproof seal!
  • Paper thickness: Before I laminate printable card games, I print them out on Astrobrights cardstock. Why? It's not just for adding durability, it also helps to prevent the printed side from being seen from the reverse side. So students can play, without having to try to conceal their cards from their opponents' view. 
  • Fire Safety: A good laminating machine should also have a safety automatic shut off (like a curling iron does).
  • Cutting: I recommend the use of a guillotine (if you are handy with it) because it really saves time on cutting.
  • Printing Ink: Your printer must have medium to high levels of black and colored ink. If you print in color and your color cartridge is low on only one color, say blue, it cannot use other colors to make more blue so all color levels (the little bars) must be 'up'.

  • Using Velcro: For sorting activities and games, if you need to stick one card to another, use little strips of Velcro (the kind that's already cut into little dots with sticky backs) so students scan sort with ease. I do not recommend tape because it leaves a sticky residue on your cards, it takes up more time for peeling, cutting and sticking, and it is tricky for younger students to handle. 

  • Storage for easy access: Store your printables in labelled transparent 'Ziploc type' bags for easy identification and so that they can stay clean without little fingerprints and juice-spills all over them!

Sometimes laminators can get jammed. This is a really important tip: How to prevent jams - 
When feeding the laminating sheet into the laminator, always insert the sealed end, not the open end, or else it could cause your laminator to jam. Sometimes you may just have small piece of paper to laminate and you decide to cut out a nice rectangular section of the laminating pouch (because you don't want to waste the whole thing). This is okay as long as you cut from the sealed end. But then again, what do you do with the remainder - the part that is not sealed? Use it another time? No. Throw it away or else it could jam your laminator! I have learned the hard way that the best way to be thrifty with my pouches is to use them to the full extent. So if I only have a small piece of paper to laminate, I find other small things to add to the pouch so that I don't have any wastage.


Always store your laminated posters and printables in a plastic see-through pouch or envelope until you are ready to use them.

So now that you know my laminating secrets, I hope you have a fun creating and laminating for your classroom! You can share these 10 Tips for Laminating your Printables to help other teachers. See the best thermal laminators for classroom use in this blog post!

By the way, I have put together lots of ideas for storing your cardstock in your classroom. You can check them out in this blog post.


mumzie said...

Thanks for the tips.What type of a printer do you use with card stock?

Teacher Nyla said...

I use a Canon. I love Canon. I must say that as long as you use a 'top load' printer, it would be able to print thick sheets without jamming. So I always look for a printer that loads the paper at the top which does not require the paper to be bent too much (for efficient printing). Hope this helps!

Victoria Kelley said...

Hi! Thanks for the tips!

If I may add... instead of throwing away the laminating film you cut for smaller projects, use it for other small projects! But instead of putting it through the machine, put a piece of paper over it and use your iron on low - medium heat.

Laminating film can get expensive! No need to waste it!

Teacher Nyla said...

Thank you Victoria, I've heard about the ironing tip too and I understand that it really works so thanks for the tip!

Jessica said...

I would like to add another tip as well. :) When feeding your lamination paper through, if your documents often become jumbled together, simply add a small dab of stick glue on the back of each piece of paper before putting it on the lamination paper. That way, each paper stays where it should and comes out looking as it should!

memyselfandI said...

We've used a LOT of laminating pouches and what we've found is

* you can use half a pouch if you let the pouch go in until the items and a bit of pouch are laminated, and then press the release button and pull the pouch back. You now have a new sealed edge.

* double-cutting is not needed for all laminated items. Some will get lost / out of date / destroyed by bending, cutting, biting, being covered in glue, being rubbed over dirty floors, .... faster than the diminished durability coming from not-double cutting. One example in our case is student specific remediation flashcards. It literally saves us over 50% time, and we've found a reduction in pouch use (between-card margins take up a lot of pouch if you're laminating hundreds of images in one go, and double cutting those takes at least a full day more). Think critically on whether double cutting is needed

* use a laminating machine that has a flat feeder and build a platform out of books and a cutting board instead of using glue to keep images in place. Glue becomes a weak spot. This includes glueing sheets of paper together. We try to avoid this and double side print where possible, or use sticker paper where useful, or count on needing to replace items faster.

* don't use a paper guillotine for cutting laminated items. It will destroy your guillotine and your will be left with raged edges in paper and plastic alike. We cycle our scissors (dressmaking scissors) - paper scissors - laminating scissors - kitchen scissors - trash.

Vishal Sharma said...


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As a Caribbean primary school teacher, I share my unique classroom with the world through this blog. Readers step into my class through the pictures, articles and classroom samples of games and lessons used in my class. I have been teaching since 2005 at the std. 4 primary level in Trinidad and Tobago. I am particularly interested in sharing my own personal lesson plans, tests and activities. Teachers need to share ideas and support each other because in doing so, we help to educate our students and develop ourselves as teachers. Technology is ever evolving and we as teachers should get on board with it, collaborate and keep up to date with this new age that we live in. Our students belong to this technological era and we must embrace opportunities to learn from each other in this global community. I also love to express my creativity in the classroom. I am a bit of a craftster . So I'm always cutting, gluing or making something... a game, a chart, a learning center, etc. So, teachers and parents, feel free to stop by and see what's new at Nyla's Crafty Teaching!