Stickers are made for sticking on things. But what if you want them to stick around for a long time? If a sticker will be used outdoors, or on a water bottle, or in other places that are exposed to water and heat, it’s important to waterproof it.
Why waterproof stickers? Because protecting your stickers from the environment helps make them tougher and more durable. It also makes them stain-resistant and keeps the inks from fading.
Can you waterproof stickers? You’ll be glad to know that there are actually a few ways to waterproof your stickers, even after you’ve printed or applied them. This article will tell you three simple ways that you can waterproof your stickers for a durable, long-lasting result.
How To Waterproof Stickers After Printing
The easiest way to waterproof your stickers after you’ve done printing them is to laminate them with a thermal laminating machine.
Waterproofing stickers by laminating them is a process you can quickly and easily do at home. This method ‘protects’ the stickers by forming a waterproof laminated film over your stickers so that it’s less likely to fade or wear out.
There are many benefits to laminated stickers.
The first benefit is the application. Lamination is super simple and so easy that it’s hard to mess up. It takes very little time to get the paper ready and then to apply the lamination film. It takes a little practice, but once you get good at it, it takes about 15 minutes for a dozen stickers.
Another benefit of waterproofing stickers by laminating them is how clear, and consistent they look after they’re done, and it doesn’t take any effort at all to get this professional, consistent look.
Of course, this method requires that you have a laminating machine at home, which many crafters may not have. However, if you already have the necessary supplies, then you can follow these steps to waterproof your stickers.
- Two sheets of sticker paper (already printed with your design)
- A laminating machine
- Laminating film in the size of your sticker paper
- Warm-up your laminating machine. Since the laminating machine uses heat to activate the adhesive, you’ll need the machine to be properly warmed up so that the film can adhere correctly. Otherwise, the film will look wavy on the surface of your sticker after laminating.
- While waiting for the machine to warm up, you can clean the surface of the stickers with a clean cloth. Any dirt or marks left on the stickers can be trapped under the laminating film, creating raised bumps on the surface that are undesirable. Then, you can hold two sticker sheets together with the wrong sides facing each other and insert the sheets inside the laminating film pouch. We recommend doing this because the laminating film actually works on both sides, so you can laminate two sheets of stickers at the same time and not waste any laminating film!
- After the machine is warmed up properly, you can feed the laminating film and stickers through the machine. Make sure not to rush the process, as the film will need time to properly adhere to the stickers.
- After the stickers go through the machine, wait a few minutes for it to cool down. Then, you can trim away the excess film that didn’t cover the papers. After trimming all four corners, you should be able to separate the two sheets of stickers nicely, and you should have two sheets of waterproof stickers to use. If you have multiple smaller stickers on the same sticker sheet, you will also need to cut out each piece with your scissors. This shouldn’t affect the performance of the laminating film as the entire surface of the film is covered with heat-activated adhesive.
How To Waterproof Stickers Without Laminating Machine
If you don’t have a laminating machine, there’s still a way that you can ‘laminate your stickers’ using the self-adhesive laminating sheets.
These are basically sticker paper themselves that you will need to peel off and stick to your stickers to form a clear film over them to protect and waterproof them.
Self-adhesive laminating film can be purchased in office supply stores or online. You can find different thicknesses of laminating paper to suit the look of your stickers. It is an inexpensive, quick, and easy way to protect your stickers from the elements.
While this method is not as durable as a professional lamination, it is suitable for those who want a similar result without having to buy a laminating machine. The application doesn’t require any tools other than something flat, like a credit card, to smooth out the lamination paper.
The only downside is because it is done by hand, it is definitely more time-consuming. You can also trap bubbles in the process of applying the lamination paper over the stickers, which can be quite difficult to remove, thus ruining your stickers altogether.
Here’s what you need to waterproof your stickers using a self-adhesive laminating film:
- Self-adhesive laminating film in the thickness and transparency of your choosing
- Your sticker sheet
- A flat tool (like a credit card) to smooth out the sticker
How to do it:
- Clean the stickers to make sure no dust is trapped underneath before you laminate.
- Align the laminating paper over the stickers first to see where you want to apply it. Then, gradually remove the film in the back of the laminating paper to reveal the sticky side, and apply it on the sticker. Make sure to go slowly here and use a credit card to smooth out the laminating film as you apply it, as any bubbles trapped inside can be difficult to remove later on.
- After applying a laminating film, you can trim away the excess film and cut out individual stickers if needed.
How To Waterproof Stickers On A Water Bottle
The methods above sound easy enough, but what if you want to waterproof stickers that have already been applied to a water bottle?
Stickers on your water bottle not only need to be waterproof, but whatever protective finish you use needs to be dishwasher safe so that you can easily wash your bottle in the dishwasher when needed.
For this, we recommend using dishwasher-safe Mod Podge to seal the stickers! Mod Podge is a glue-sealer-finisher that comes in a variety of finishes and types – glossy, matte, dishwasher safe, etc.
The number one reason that people love using Mod Podge for their stickers is that it’s a clear formula that’s super easy to apply with a brush. You’ll usually need to apply two to four coats of Mod Podge in order to achieve the desired protection, and each coat will take about half an hour to dry, so this process can take a while.
Mod Podge is also non-toxic and safe to use at home, which is why it’s much better than other types of waterproof sealant out there. You can find Mod Podge very inexpensively in the craft store or online.
When you buy Mod Podge, make sure to buy the dishwasher-safe type, as Mod Podge is actually a brand that has a few formulas for their products. Otherwise, you won’t be able to put your water bottle in the dryer!
What you’ll need:
- Dishwasher safe Mod Podge
- A clean brush
- Your water bottle
How to do it:
- Apply stickers on your water bottle as you normally would. Then, after you’re happy with the result, wipe down the surface with a clean cloth to make sure no dust or grease is trapped when you apply the sealer.
- With a clean brush, apply the Mod Podge over your stickers, going slightly over the edge of the sticker to make sure water cannot get underneath the stickers and loosen the adhesive. Make sure to smooth out your brush marks to avoid creating unwanted textures on your surface.
- After the first coat, wait for at least 30 minutes for it to dry before applying the next coat. If you apply the second coat too early, the brush may end up smudging the first layer of Mod Podge and create a foggy, rough texture in the final product. Apply as many as four coats of Mod Podge over the sticker, wait the proper amount of time between each coat to let it dry completely. After the last coat dries, you should have a clear, waterproof, dishwasher-safe sealer to protect your stickers!
A quick note:
This method works with other types of clear sealer as well – you can use polyurethane or epoxy to achieve a similar result. You can also use clear nail polish, but it won’t be dishwasher safe and can chip away after the bottle is washed a few times.
We chose this particular formula of Mod Podge because it’s both dishwasher-safe and non-toxic (once completely cured), while polyurethane or epoxy can emit VOCs that are toxic, which makes them unpleasant and possibly unsafe to apply.
However, these clear sealants may work better than Mod Podge in the long run since Mod Podge is less durable than other types of sealants.
Based on these pros and cons, you can choose a sealer option that works well for you!
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