How to laminate paper: 8 simple steps

Angie Renner
Published by 
Angie Renner
Last updated: 
January 4, 2024

Laminating paper protects your important documents from getting dirty, creased, or discolored. But did you know that there are several methods to do it? We discovered some hassle-free and effective ways on how to laminate paper and we're sharing them here.

Remember, though, some official documents like your Social Security card aren't ever supposed to be laminated. Many others are okay to do, though, like birth certificates, wills, marriage certificates, and a few others.

How to Laminate Paper

Laminating Paper Featured Image

There are generally two answers to the question of how to laminate paper. You can use a laminating machine, or you can laminate your documents by hand using self-adhesive laminating sheets or self-sealing pouches.

Clear packing tape may also be used to laminate smaller items such as labels, name tags, business cards, and others.

Using a laminating machine is typically the easiest method, especially if you're laminating large-format items such as banners, posters, or maps. Laminating machines come in various sizes, from a standard document-sized laminator to a larger, industrial-sized one.

However, if you're very adept at using your hands, laminating with self-adhesive sheets and other manual methods can be just as equally effective.

What Is a Laminating Machine?

A laminating machine is an implement that fuses two plastic coating sheets with a piece of paper in between. The plastic coating primarily protects the paper from dirt, moisture, and fingerprints.

It also prevents important documents from aging, fading, and discoloration. The sturdy and rigid plastic coating adds thickness to the paper, making it resistant to creasing, folding, and tearing.

There are several types of laminating machines available in the market. They can be used for personal, business, and industrial purposes. Portable ones for everyday use are user-friendly and affordable.

However, before purchasing a laminating machine, take some key considerations into account. Purchase one that best suits your needs. Choose a laminating machine based on the type and size of materials you will be laminating and frequency of use.

Even the plastic coating sheets (that come with the laminating machine) vary in thickness. Thicker plastic sheets are more rigid and durable as compared to thinner ones.

Types of Laminating Machines

Laminating machines come in two kinds: hot and cold. Both hot and cold laminators require laminating products to operate properly (e.g. laminating sheets, pouches, and carriers). The laminating products should be compatible with the machine that you are using.

1. Hot Laminators

A hot laminator uses heat and pressure to melt or activate adhesives in order to secure the plastic coating. A document is placed inside a laminating pouch.

The pouch is then made to go through rollers in the machine while utilizing heat and pressure to fasten the lamination. An optional lamination carrier may also be used with the pouch to protect the document from heat damage.

Hot laminators are capable of doing faster laminate jobs and have a variety of heat settings and additional features that can accommodate other materials besides paper. Additionally, the laminating products that come with a hot laminator are typically cheaper compared to the materials used with a cold laminator.

A word of caution though — some inks, colors, and materials may be susceptible to heat damage. To remedy this problem, you can purchase special plastic laminates that are designed to provide added protection from the heat generated by the machine.

Hot laminators require a bit of skill to operate so always exercise caution when handling a hot laminator to avoid heat-related accidents.

2. Cold Laminators

Cold laminators are typically used to laminate heat-sensitive materials such as old and delicate documents, photos, or vinyl. This type of laminating machine exerts pressure to secure the document between two laminating sheets. No heat is needed for adhesion to occur.

Because of this, cold laminators typically take lesser time to set up and require less maintenance compared to hot laminators. 

Cold laminators are relatively easy to use, color-friendly, and won't affect ink quality nor damage the material that is being laminated. They also provide an option for one-sided lamination.

This makes them ideal for use on decals and other decorative items.

Laminating Paper Without a Machine

Knowing how to laminate paper without the use of laminating machines is a skill that can come in handy, especially in situations where a laminating machine is unavailable.

Laminating products that do not require the use of a laminating machine are also cheaper and cost-effective.

No Laminator Needed

Here are some materials that you can use to laminate paper with no need for a laminator. There are ways to laminate paper without having to spend on expensive laminating products to do the job. For example, clear packing tape is a household item that you can easily find at home.

1. Self-Adhesive Sheets or Self-Sealing Laminate Pouches

If you're laminating documents, self-adhesive sheets or self-sealing laminate pouches are great alternatives. They are both readily available in office supplies stores.

We recommend that you choose the ones with a grid on the back. This grid will serve as your guide when positioning your document before laminating.

2. Clear Packing Tape

While using clear packing tape is a convenient way to laminate paper, it is only capable of laminating small-sized items such as labels, name tags, bookmarks, or business cards.

3. Synthetic Paper

Synthetic paper is waterproof. If you're printing out signages or artworks, try using synthetic paper instead of just regular paper. This durable paper totally eliminates the need for laminating. Synthetic papers are typically compatible to use with color copiers and laser printers.

They also come in various sizes, including the standard letter size (8.5 inches x 11 inches) and tabloid size (11 inches x 17 inches).

8-Step Simple Guides on How to Laminate Paper

Now that you're familiar with some methods on how to laminate paper, here are some 8-step simple guides to help you through the process. They are guides that cover both ways on how to laminate paper, with and without the use of a machine.

The first one will walk you through the process of using a hot laminating machine, the second guide will discuss steps on how to use a self-sealing pouch.

How to Laminate Paper Using a Hot Laminator

  1. Turn on the hot laminating machine and give it some time to warm up. An indicator light will tell you when the machine is ready to use.
  2. Insert your document between the two sheets of the laminating pouch.
  3. If your document is slightly smaller than the pouch, make sure to place it in the center to achieve even borders all around. If the pouch is considerably larger than your document, you don't need to center it because the edges can be trimmed later on.
  4. With your document properly placed, put the laminating pouch inside the carrier.
  5. Make sure that the sealed end of the pouch is placed snugly against the carrier's sealed end.
  6. Feed the carrier through the laminator by inserting the sealed end first. 
  7. Wait until the machine takes the sealed end — don't force it through. The carrier needs to go through slowly in order to fuse the sheets together properly.
  8. After the machine has laminated the material entirely, wait for the pouch to cool down before taking it out of the carrier.
  9. If necessary, trim the edges using a cutter or a pair of scissors. The borders should measure 2mm at least.

How to Laminate Paper Using a Self-Sealing Pouch

  1. Place your document or material face down on the clear side of the laminating sheet.
  2. Close the pouch and refer to the transparent grid on the top sheet.
  3. Make sure that the document inside the pouch is aligned properly.
  4. Flip the pouch open and look for a one-eighth inch strip which is located on the crease. 
  5. Gently pull the strip off. The adhesive behind it will hold your document in place.
  6. Re-close the pouch and check again to see if everything is in order.
  7. Re-open the pouch and pull about an inch of the adhesive backing from the corner across the width of the paper to start the peeling process
  8. Re-close the pouch while securing the top edge of the laminating sheet with your finger. Using your other hand, start a slow and steady pull on the adhesive backing until the adhesive sheet is exposed. Make sure that no bubbles form as you pull the backing off.
  9. Flatten the sheet with your hand (or a suitable tool) from the crease edge out. Make sure that there are no bubbles forming on the laminate as you smoothen it.


Laminating paper can be a satisfying activity. It doesn't just protect your document or material; it also makes it look a lot better. Laminating signages for frequent use is a cost-effective solution which can save your business a lot of money in the long run.

If you're new to the process, work on DIY projects at home to start. Once you've mastered the skill and you're more confident about your output, you can laminate important documents without having to worry about making mistakes.

Learning how to laminate paper properly takes a bit of practice, but you will eventually get the hang of it.