Not a day goes by without us hearing the question, ‘how can I waterproof my print work’ for better longevity, in particular when it comes into contact with the elements. When prints are made waterproof (thereby making the ink less likely to smudge) the added bonus is that in the process they are also made more durable against rubbing or mishandling as well as UV stable. There are several ways to shield your print, make it more durable and naturally waterproof.

Coatings – If your requirements of waterproofing the work comes from a need to protect the print from the wear and tear that comes from been handled or from exposure to the sun, you can probably get away with printing on a strong and durable coating. Before purchasing the base paper (photo paper, sticker paper, cards etc) evaluate the type of receiving layer that is used. In photo paper for example, microporous photo paper has a base layer of polyethylene underneath that offers greater durability.

Dedicated Papers – There are several types of base papers such as some types of matt and glossy sticker papers that have a water repellent receiving layer due to their intended use. Such base papers will be clearly marked if they offer any such properties.

Inks – The type of ink that is used to transfer the media onto the base paper also plays an important part in the durability of the print. When it comes to Inkjet inks, your choice is either Dye Based Inks or Pigment Based Inks depending on the manufacturer. If your printer uses Pigment Based Inks UV durability is higher.

Lamination – The process of lamination will sandwich your print between multiple layers of transparent material thereby achieving waterproof properties. Normally your print will be sandwiched between two layers of plastic film and using a combination of heat and pressure will bond to achieve one sheet. It will require a lamination machine and the print may lose some of its quality (sharpness for example) due to the introduction of a plastic film over the image.

Fixative Spray – Perhaps the most versatile option and one that can suit a whole host of printed media is the fixative spray. Sprayed onto the printed media directly, this solution adds a layer of transparent protection that when left to dry will allow you to handle the print freely and make it waterproof. In addition, a fixative spray will also enhance the UV stability of the image.  To ensure that your desired finish remains intact, fixative spray comes in matt, glossy and satin finishes.

If you have come across any other methods, we’d love to hear. Leave your comment below.