If you could make your stickers fadeproof, waterproof, and guarantee that the ink won’t run, AND they’ll be dishwasher safe- wouldn’t you want to? If you plan to use your custom stickers outdoors (or if they are meant to be used on a water bottle or Yeti tumbler), this post will show you how easy it is to waterproof your stickers. Although there are different ways to make your stickers waterproof, the BEST way is to use self-adhesive laminate over printable vinyl. It saves time over the aerosol spray sealing method. It’s also pretty easy to apply, is inexpensive, and you can feel confident that your stickers are protected. For this post, I compared three different types of self-adhesive laminate so you’ll be able to choose the right product for your project. I also have tricks to make your application smooth so you don’t get air bubbles and can laminate sticker sheets fast.
How to Make Waterproof Stickers with Laminate
What is Self-Adhesive Laminating?
First thing, Self-Adhesive Laminate Sheets are two sheets of plastic that are longer and wider than a standard size paper. The plastic sticks to your paper or item, coating it with a protective layer.
Self-adhesive laminating is NOT the same as thermal (heat) laminating*. Heat laminating stickers is a great way to protect your stickers and make them scratch-resistant but is NOT the best way to waterproof your stickers.
Note: Curious about what the 3 Best Methods to Protect and Waterproof Your Stickers are? I have the pros and cons of each in my post.
*In my next post, I demo how to heat laminate your stickers. This method is SUPER fast, and you get consistently good results without even trying. But it requires the use of a laminating machine that heats the thermal laminating pouches. It makes GREAT labels, school supply stickers etc that don’t need to be waterproof. If you don’t want to purchase or store another machine then self-adhesive sheets are the way to go!
What Type of Sticker Paper or Printable Vinyl Can You Use to Make Waterproof Stickers?
Self-Adhesive Laminating is a great choice for stickers, decals, or labels that may have prolonged access to water. If you do not need your stickers to be waterproof, you can use printable vinyl that says it is water-resisitant without a laminate. Or you can use a different method for protecting your stickers. It is a good idea to check to see if your printer inks are UV inks if you expect your stickers to be out in the sun at all times.
You can use sticker paper as your base, but if water gets underneath the sticker at all, then it can make the paper under the laminate less durable. Make sure that whichever sticker paper or printable vinyl you choose is compatible with your machine. On the product packaging, it should tell you if it’s made for inkjet or laser printers.
For sticker paper (or printable vinyl), you can use glossy or matte finishes but keep in mind that the matte will have a satin-like finish because of the laminating process. Personally, I like to use glossy because it seems to give me the most vibrant colors.
Don’t Need the Step-by-Step for Print then Cut?
In the tutorial below, I start with how to upload your sticker sheets into Cricut Design Space. If you don’t need to know how to do this part of the project, feel free to skip to Step 4.
How to Apply Laminate to Waterproof Stickers
Tools and Materials
- Blooms and Butterflies Sticker Download from Free Library
- Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets of Your Choice (see the 3 brand comparisons below the tutorial)
- Sticker Paper or Printable Vinyl*
- Printer- Home Inkjet Printer ( I love my Canon Crafter’s Printer) or Laser Printer
- Old Credit Card or Retail Rewards Card (do NOT use a stiff tool like a Cricut Scraper as this can scrape your laminate)
- Cricut Cutting Machine- Cricut Explore Air 2 or Cricut Maker
- Green Standard Cutting Mat
- Fine Point Blade (comes with Cricut)
* For help deciding which sticker papers are right for your project check out this handy dandy post!
Step One: Upload Your Sticker Design into Cricut Design Space
I have so many free sticker downloads in my Free Library but for this post, I added the Blooms and Butterflies Sticker Sheet. Open a new canvas in Cricut Design Space and in the right-side toolbar select Upload.
Then choose your design file to upload, this will start the image upload process. Choose Complex, and then skip the Clean-Up screen.
On the next page choose Save as a Print then Cut by clicking on the image and then on the Save.
This brings your image into your Uploaded Images Gallery and you can click to select it and then choose Insert Images in the lower right corner. This opens the design in your canvas.
Step Two: Size and Save Your Design
The sticker design will import larger than it needs to be- as Cricut Design Space limits Print then Cut to 6.75″ x 9.25″ (you’ll see the DANGER! icon on the layer if it’s too large.)
To start, in the Size box in the top toolbar change the width to 6.75″ and because the constraints are locked, this will automatically adjust the height as well.
Then hit the Save in the right of the top toolbar. (I love the new Collections feature!)
Step Three: Print the Sticker Sheets (Print 2x)
Follow the instructions on screen to Print your sticker sheets.
Turn off bleed.
Hit Print. If you turned on the System Dialog it will open behind your browser and you’ll have to minimize the window to see it.
You can toggle on System Dialog or not. If you do, it engages your printer’s* dialog so that you can use the settings on your printer. For instance, if you want you can set the paper type, the print quality, or which tray you want to use. You will also have to set the # of copies here.
*Because my Canon Crafter’s Printer has a rear-feed option I like to use it for any thicker papers as it eliminates any possibility of the paper jamming. You do not need a printer with this option to print most sticker papers- but it is awesome for heavy cardstock.
Step Four: Prepare to Laminate
To apply the sheets, first, remove them from their packaging. One side will be clear, and the other will have a thin film stuck to it. This is the adhesive side. DO NOT remove the film just yet- there are some tricks to this that will make the application loads easier and give you a more professional application.
First, to get a centered and even application, stick the top of the sheet to your work table or work surface. Be careful not to stick your sheet to a table that has a surface that can peel off. A table with a laminate surface or a hard countertop works best, otherwise use a cutting mat or placemat for this step.
First, to get a centered and even application, stick the top of the sheet to your work table or work surface.
To do this, you can either a) peel off the top of the backing paper, and with the sticky side down, place your laminating sheet on your surface.
Or b) use a kraft knife and a ruler to make a shallow cut through the backing paper across the top of the sheet. It really does help you align and position your laminate sheet to do this extra little step! Peel off the strip. DO NOT peel off the rest of the backing paper yet.
Note: Be careful not to stick your sheet to a table that has a surface that can peel off. A table with a laminate surface or a hard countertop works best, otherwise use a cutting mat or plastic placemat for this step.
Next, center the top of the sticker paper (image side up) beneath the laminating sheet (near the top of the laminated sheet where it’s stuck to the table).
Step Five: Apply the Self-Laminating Sheet to Your Stickers
Once everything is lined up, lift the laminating sheet and grasp the backing sheet.
Then, with one hand, begin to pull it away from the laminate.
At the same time, with the other hand, use the old rewards (or key) card to press down from the middle of the sheet gently and smooth out to the edges. Watch for air bubbles, and use the card to push them to the edges or smooth them out.
Do not press hard as you could scratch the laminate as you scrape. Using a rewards card that is flexible helps prevent this.
Step Six: Prepare to Cut the Sheet with Your Cricut
In Cricut Design Space, you’ll see the Mat Preview Screen. It shows you how to position your sticker sheet on a cutting mat. Use a green cutting mat and place your sticker sheet in the upper right corner as shown.
I usually recommend the Light Grip Cutting Mat for stickers, but because of the added thickness of the laminated sheets, the Standard Grip Cutting Mat seems to hold it in place better. If you only have Light Grip mats, see the note below.
Note: If you’re having an issue with the backing of the sticker paper sticking to the mat too much, you can use the Light Grip Cutting Mat but secure your sticker paper’s edges to the mat with blue painter’s tape.
Step Seven: Choose Your Material Setting and Cut the Stickers
On the next page, you choose the Material Setting. For die-cut laminated stickers, I found that using the Holographic Kraft Board setting gave me the best results, and for kiss cut sticker sheets, the Stencil .04 setting worked well.
Follow the rest of the prompts and Cut your stickers.
ALWAYS check your stickers to make sure that they cut through before you Unload the mat. If it hasn’t cut all the way through, you can repeat the cut by pressing the Go (Cricut) button as many times as needed.
Note: If your Cricut says it can’t read the registration box, try reloading your machine or cancel the cut and then start over again. If this doesn’t work, then you can try using transparent matte tape to cover the lines. This cuts down on any glare that may be confusing the Cricut’s Print then Cut sensor.
Step Eight: Remove the Stickers from the Cutting Mat
To avoid curling your stickers, there are a few tricks you should try.
For Kiss Cut Sticker Sheets: Flip your mat over and peel it back, keeping the stickers as flat as possible as you do it. This keeps your stickers from curling. If they do curl, you can press them flat under a stack of books.
For Die-Cut Stickers: Peel off the extra material around the individual stickers. Then, use a sharp weeding tool or spatula tool to loosen the stickers so that you can remove them from the cutting mat without pulling off the backing paper or tearing the paper.
More Tips for Making GREAT DIY Waterproof Labels, Decals, and Tech Cases
Again, laminating your stickers gives your final product a professional look. And, if you sell your stickers, it’s a great purchase point if you can say that the stickers are high quality and protected with a laminate. Totally worth the extra cost of the laminating sheets!
For more on laminating your stickers check out this sticker blog post by Royal Elements. And for more on which type of paper, which type of laminating sheets, etc. I’d love to have you check out my post, Three Best Methods for Protecting your Stickers.
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