Contact paper is an adhesive vinyl used for protecting and lining flat surfaces with the sole purpose of making them waterproof. It is pretty similar to laminating; it can also be used as a laminating technique. However, there are so many differences between contact paper and laminating sheets or pouches.
Though they both have a few similarities, including the fact that they are made of vinyl and can be used to laminate paper, there are some significant differences that you should be aware of. If you already own some sets of contact paper, then you should read this before using it.
First of all, contact paper comes with adhesives, of which most of it are water-based. In essence, you can not use heat to seal a contact paper to paper as you will do with most laminating pouches. Instead, you just have to peel off the backing that comes with it and attach the contact paper to the flat surface that you are laminating.
The fact that the adhesive that comes with contact paper is majorly water-based, any exposure to water being the vinyl backing will completely ruin the installation. Laminating pouches, on the other hand, will not get destroyed even when exposed to water because they have been sealed with heat. Hence, I will advise that you use extra care in handling documents that you protect with contact paper.
Also, contact paper is not as thick as laminating pouches. The contact paper will not make your document look or feel sturdier, hence why it is referred to as a paper. The primary purpose of contact paper is to give your paper protection from water. Any mishandling could bring about the end of your document.
Unlike laminating pouches that add to the thickness of your paper, contact paper will not. If you just need minor protection on items, then contact paper is advised but if you need extra protection, go for laminating pouches.
Moving to the last distinction between these two, which also brings about the topic. Contact paper cannot be used in a laminator. As I mentioned earlier, contact paper comes with a water-based adhesive, so they do not need activation from heat like laminating pouches.
Contact Paper cannot go through a laminator like a regular laminating pouch for many reasons. First of all, applying heat to the adhesive that comes with it will only ruin and not activate it. It would cause a lot of mess in your laminator.
Also, the soft texture of contact paper makes it useless in a laminator. Laminating pouches are known to have an extra thickness allowing them to pass through the laminator when stretched by the laminating rolls. If contact paper goes through this, expect it to tear into pieces because it can’t withstand such a condition.
So, if you have contact paper and you are thinking of using it in a laminator, then you should get rid of that thought now. You will ruin the contact paper leaving you with no other option. Instead, you can simply use the contact paper to give your document temporary protection before you get extra protection from laminating pouches.
How To Use Contact Paper
Aside from the item you want to laminate and the contact paper, it would help if you also got scissors ready to trim the edges when you are done with the process. Thankfully, most contact papers come with grids behind them, making them easier to cut.
Once you have all of these in place, you can begin. First of all, assemble all the pieces you want to laminate. Using the grid at the back of the contact paper, cut a shape full of two squares larger than your item. If you are skilled at cutting already, you can cut only one entire square larger than the item you want to laminate.
Next, place the item on the contact paper and ensure it fits and sits in the center. Once you have confirmed its positioning, you can go ahead to remove the backing that comes with the contact paper, then attach the document to it. Ensure you get rid of all bubbles that might come in the process.
When doing this, I’ll advise that you allow the contact paper to sit on a flat surface first with the sticky side facing up before placing your document on it. Then, you can repeat the same process for the other side of the paper. Ensure that the contact paper on both sides is appropriately attached to each other in such a way that there are no bubbles between them.
Get your scissors and carefully trim the excess contact paper off the edges of your paper. Ensure you are consistent with the cuttings, so it comes out neat. You can also make use of the gird at the back as a guide to your cutting.
Can You Place a Document with Contact Paper In A Laminator?
This is a question that I get asked severally; it would be great to answer here. If you have previously protected your paper with contact paper and the paper still has the contact paper on it, you might think of getting some extra protection.
Using a laminator is absolutely great. However, you have to be very careful, so you don’t mess everything up. All you have to do is slide the paper into the laminator, which protects it with the laminating sheets. Doing this, your document gets double protection and will last even longer.
One of the precautions you might want to take doing this is to use a lower heat setting. A high heat setting might be extreme for the contact paper judging from its light and soft touch, which could melt it down, thereby damaging the paper inside.
So, start with the low heat setting. If it comes out and you don’t like how well it binds, then you should repeat the process with a slightly higher heat setting. You just need to have enough laminating pouches to find the exact temperature that does it best. If you don’t have enough, you might as well leave the contact paper on your document like that.
Many people also ask if it is possible to print on contact paper. Well, it is very possible to print directly on contact paper, especially if you have colored or patterned contact; this will make the process much easier. However, printing on contact paper will require a little bit of knowledge and preparation, but it is worth every second you spend on it.
You might find printing on contact paper a great alternative to laminating with contact paper. Basically, you are printing on a surface that is already protected so there is no need to laminate anymore.