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Best coatings to protect inkjet prints?

Mixe Bug , Jun 20, 2005; 03:35 p.m.

I'm not sure this is the best category for me to post in, but, new to this forum, I don't seem to be getting any closer.

I would like to know the best type of water-based (acrylic...?) coating to seal inkjet art and photodigital prints from an Epson printer. I am printing mostly on matte art-quality substrate, and currently limited to the standard Epson OEM inksets. I find that when I attempt to apply water-based acrylic sealers or varnish that it picks up the ink to some degree and causes smudging in areas of sharp black-on-white printing such as text or line drawings.

If indeed possible, I'd like to avoid the use of solvent-based varnishes on my prints. So if anyone can recommend a water-based product that doesn't cause smudging, I'd be more than grateful. If not (and I suspect this is the case), I guess I'll just have to resort to the fumes and mess to protect my prints.

Incidentally, pre-spraying them with Krylon did not work. They still bled when the varnish was applied.

Thanks if you can help...


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Godfrey DiGiorgi , Jun 20, 2005; 04:06 p.m.

I haven't found any fixatives or sealants, water based or otherwise, that didn't degrade the appearance of inkjet prints to some degree, one way or another. I find it best to just let the prints dry thoroughly and then use either archival plastic sleeves, or matte/frame them under glass to keep them looking good as well as properly protected.


Frank Skomial , Jun 20, 2005; 04:22 p.m.

Laminate them.

Giampi . , Jun 20, 2005; 04:27 p.m.

Lyson makes a solution which may work for you. The only reason to spray your prints would be to limit the color shift due to exposure to light (even indirect). Otherwise, for storage purposes, it's not necessary if you use archival sleeves.

Jim Swenson , Jun 20, 2005; 04:28 p.m.

UV protectant from an art store.

Giampi . , Jun 20, 2005; 04:30 p.m.

Supposedly, some inks are not as prone to color-shift as others.

I have found that my Canon inks will shift after about 4-6 mos of exposure to indirect natural light. However, the same prints stored in archival sheets have not shifted.

Skip Douglas , Jun 20, 2005; 06:04 p.m.

Krylon 1311 Matte Finish works great to seal up inkjet prints. I spray both sides of the paper so that there's no tendency to curl. Wal-Mart now carries this product. We used to pay four times Wal-Mart's price at an artist's supply store.

Glen Peterson , Jun 20, 2005; 09:16 p.m.

I have tried a couple of different clear sprays. I never had a problem with fading/colorshifting etc.. (I live in the California Desert). That is until I intalled a swamp cooler(evaporative Cooler) in our house. Prints the were fully exposed, faded quickly with the higher humidity in the house. Even ones that had showed no sign of deterioration for 4+ years. The prints that are under glass (in frames) have held up very well.

Joseph Wisniewski , Jun 21, 2005; 11:19 a.m.

Mixe - unless you're using one of the Epson pigment ink printers, you're printing in a water based ink, which means that any water based varnish is going to disolve some of the ink, causing smearing. That's just basic chemistry, and you can't get around it. You have two choices. Switch to pigment inks (which might entail switching printers) or switch to a solvent based varnish, because oil and water don't mix. ("oil" in the broad sense of any reasonably complex hydrocarbon).

Kirk Thompson , Jun 21, 2005; 12:03 p.m.

Epson now recommends Premier water-based Eco print shield, which is just becoming available on the market. Haven't tried it yet.

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