What Can I Spray on Paper to Make It Waterproof?

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Whether it's a poem written by a loved one or a cherished photograph you want to preserve, sometimes you need to make a piece of paper waterproof. When done correctly, waterproofing will prevent the paper from yellowing, which it often does as it ages, while protecting it from the elements.


Spray It

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Clear polyurethane coating, clear acrylic spray paint and lacquer spray sealers -- all waterproof paper. These sprays are relatively inexpensive and available in various finishes, such as matte, satin, glossy and high-gloss. A matte finish has no gloss; satin finishes have a pearl-like sheen; and glossy finishes have a shiny surface. Waterproofing sprays are available at home improvement centers, department stores and craft shops; they work well on various surfaces, such as paper, dried silk flowers, wood, glass, plastic and ceramics.


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Applying the Sprays

Things You'll Need

  • Chemical-resistant rubber gloves

  • Clear polyurethane coating, clear acrylic spray paint or lacquer spray sealer

  • Cardboard


  • While using coatings, varnish, lacquers and other protective sprays is relatively safe, they can be dangerous if used improperly.
  • These sprays are typically flammable and should only be used in a well-ventilated area and kept away from open flames, sparks and heat.
  • You should also wear proper safety gear, such as safety goggles and chemical-resistant gloves, when working with spray coatings.

Step 1

Put on a pair of chemical-resistant rubber gloves.

Step 2

Shake the can thoroughly for several seconds. Some spray coatings recommend shaking the can periodically during the application.


Step 3

Hold the can about 10 to 12 inches away from the paper. To protect nearby surfaces, hold the paper over a piece of cardboard. That way, the excessive spray will land on the cardboard and not the floor.

Step 4

Spray the coating over the paper in a steady back-and-forth motion.

Step 5

Let the paper dry thoroughly before handling.


  • Each type and brand of waterproofing spray has its own set of directions that you should follow for best results.
  • Instead of starting the spray directly on the paper, try starting it away and toward the side before spraying the paper in a steady side-by-side motion. This can help prevent a blob of excessive coating from ruining the paper.
  • The drying time for the sprays vary, but most waterproof sprays dry to touch within 15 minutes. However, you should give them a few hours before handling.



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