BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Nicole C. West

Digital Print Protection

Hello, I am looking for some kind of a protective coating (spray?) that I can put on my digital photos after I have printed them. Does such a protective coating exist? If so, who makes it, and where can I get my hands on some? Thank you so much for your help!

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7/4/2004 10:38:52 PM

Dave Cross   Hi Nicole: Modern inkjet paper and ink are reasonably water-resistant in their normal untreated form, at least for home/office environments. For additional protection, try one of the acrylic varnishes sold for protecting water-colours. Visit your local art shop - there are literally dozens of different brands of the stuff. It's not expensive, so you can afford to experiment to find one that suits your ink/paper/environment combination. Cheers, DC

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7/5/2004 4:15:17 AM

Ben M. Trapnell   DC - the only experience I have is with Canon (960) and my prints are definately not waterproof. Very hardly water resistant! I took a print from my home to my vehicle and one drop of a very light misty rain immediately floated away the ink. I'm pretty sure the print had more than a couple of days drying time. I, too, would like to know if there is anything short of lamination that can help. I'm very hesitant to spray anything on my prints.

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7/6/2004 4:05:30 AM

Nicole C. West   Thank you, Dave. I will check into a few of the acrylic varnishes. My pictures really do not stand up to much on their own. I'm excited to see if this works.

Benjamin, try the spray on some practice prints before spraying on the "keepers". Then you will know if it works without destroying anything you would regret. If it doesn't work, you can always reprint the photo. That is what I'm going to do anyway.

Thank you so much for the responses!

Nicole West

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7/6/2004 9:05:22 AM

Fax Sinclair
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/3/2004
  You could go to It is a great place for paper, ink ,printers and information. The newsletter is full of info and you can search back issuses for info on different spray coatings and archival ratings for various papers and inks.

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7/6/2004 9:08:50 AM

Gregg Vieregge   I have the solution! Have your digital images printed by a lab using photo paper and regular chemistry. No ink jet. Buy some lacquer spray by McDonalds Surgaard. You can get matt, semi-gloss, glossy, pebble and a few more. It's about $12.50 per can from a photo dealer for 12 ounces. After spraying and allowing too dry you can run the prints right under water and no damage. It also protects against UV and fingerprints. Ben Franklin craft stores also have a photo protection spray that works but only in semi-gloss. I use the flat matt as do most professional studios for a more formal appearance to the final print. Go to if you can't find a local dealer or search the web. Have good ventilation when spraying as this stuff kicks quite an odor. After 24 hours the prints won't smell. Remember, emulsion photo paper, not ink jet.

Good Luck

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7/6/2004 2:56:03 PM

Fax Sinclair
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/3/2004
  I had a lot of trouble with photo labs. Hated the colors I was getting back. The Epson 2200 is fully archival and uses photo papers and you can get the colors you want. Prints at 13 by 19 or longer if you use roll paper and although ink jet the clarity and colors are fabulous.
And Cannon is putting out a lettersize archival photo printer for under $100. Ink jet has come a looooong way.

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7/7/2004 9:31:08 AM

Scott Pedersen   Get your prints done by a lab on Kodak or Fuji paper. Don't trust any home printer and paper to do that. I just don't see how the manufacturer can make claims that their prints can last 100 years when this stuff has only been around like four years. The print might turn yellow in ten years or fade to nothing. When you figure the actuall costs in the Lab will run the same or maybe cheaper. These lab people, for the most part do know what they are doing. OH, once in a while you will hit a boneyak, but developing film or making good prints does take quite a bit of knowlege and experiance. Trust them

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7/8/2004 4:25:48 AM

Fax Sinclair
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/3/2004
  Hi Scott,
The big company that does the archival testing (can't remember the name, sorry) has been doing this a loooong time and they have ways of testing the inks and papers for longevity.
You can buy Kodak paper or Epson paper or INKJETART.COM papers.
I have had my Epsom 2200 for close to two years. Took a bright image and tacked it on the wall in sunlight with no covering (spray or glass) as a personal test and that image has not changed.
I used to upload my pictures to Kodaks digital "arm" -- Ofoto and was never happy with the colors I got back. Greens were always grey.
Now I control EVERYTHING! HA HA HA HA! (Sounds of mad scientist in lab.)

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7/8/2004 9:12:15 AM

Nicole C. West   The pictures I'm trying to print (and need the spray for) are all odd sizes. Do you know of a place that will print in the sizes you request? These are all 6X6 squares.

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7/8/2004 9:36:25 AM

Gregg Vieregge   With digital you can drag the image to a larger and have it printed. (photosop) When done use a paper cutter to trim. I still think the photo paper and Surgaard spray is the way to go regardless of what all the ink jet people are saying. I send all my work to a pro lab that uses a $300,000 Noritsu and the flesh tones are perfect. No magenta cast which use get from ink jet.

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7/8/2004 10:52:08 AM

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