Cheap Ways to Laminate

By Louise Balle

Laminating a document is an easy way to instantly make it look more professional. You should laminate degrees, certificates, photos and any other document of value so that it can't be ripped or torn accidentally. You can laminate individual sheets of paper cheaply in several ways.

Laminating Sheets

Purchase self-adhesive laminating paper from your local office supply store to laminate your papers. These are clear plastic sheets that are sticky on one side and glossy on the other side. Expose the adhesive and lay it face up on a clean surface. Carefully place the front of your page down on the adhesive so that the edge of the paper is parallel with the laminating sheet. Place the top of the paper down first and then slowly smooth the rest of the page down. You can then apply another clear laminating sheet to the back of the page the same way. You can also use an X-Acto cutting knife to shave off the excess plastic edges if you wish. A pack of 50 of these laminating sheets will cost about $20, which works out to about 80 cents per laminated page.

Laminating Pouch

If you will need to laminate papers constantly, purchase a box of laminating pouches and a small laminating machine. Insert the sheet into the pouch, adjust it so that it is centered, and then run it through the laminator, which heats and seals the plastic to the page. The pouches usually come sized at 9 inches by 11.5 inches to fit a standard 8.5-by-11-inch sheet, but there are also laminating pouches that range in size from 1 by 5 inches (bookmarks) to 12-by-18-inch pages (posters). You can get a box of 100 standard sized pouches for about $15. The laminating machine will cost about $40 (see Resources for an example). This is a cheap solution ($55 total or 55 cents per sheet) compared to having 100 sheets laminated at a copy shop for $250 or more (about $2.50 per square foot).

Copy Shop Alternative

Many copy shops allow you to self-laminate your pages in the store. This is a cheaper alternative to having the copy personnel do the lamination. Take a clear laminating pouch from the self-service area, insert your page, and run it through the copy shop's heat machine. You will usually pay about $1 less per page at the copy shop when you do it yourself.