What can I spray on paper to make it waterproof?

Many people print photos on inkjet printers, with results sometimes as good as a print from a film camera, but over time, the inkjet photo can fade, yellow and bleed if it gets wet.

Other reasons to waterproof paper include preserving papers and documents that water could damage, such as a recipe, fishing or hunting license. People can also seal printed labels with clear spray to be certain that the label does not smear in transit. Paper is easy to waterproof by spraying it with clear paint sprays.


Clear sprays like acrylic spray or lacquer spray add a coating to paper that is impervious to water. The sprays may be available in different finishes, such as high-gloss or matt. Sprays coat paper lightly and two or three light coats are better than one heavy coat. Hobby shops, artist supply stores, paint stores and home improvement stores stock clear sprays.


When deciding to waterproof paper with clear spray, it's best to choose clean paper to spray. Oils from fingers may interfere with the spray's ability to bond with the surface. You can place the paper on a piece of flat cardboard or newspaper to protect the work surface. Read the instructions to see if and how long you need to shake the can before spraying and how many coats the manufacturer recommends to seal the paper.

Drying Time

Once the spray sets, you can add another coat to provide more protection from water. Clear sprays have different drying times and it's important to not touch the sprayed paper before the top surface has thoroughly dried before turning it over to waterproof the other side. If you are spraying a photograph, you may not need to spray the other side if it's not likely to come into contact with water.


Transparent paint sprays are flammable and contain harmful fumes. When working with these sprays, use them outdoors and away from any open sources of flame or sparks. If you have to use them inside, do so with doors and windows open. If you get dizzy or develop a headache, wait until you can spray the paper outdoors. Do not turn off or on anything electrical or gas that could create a spark. If the spray contacts your skin, wash thoroughly with soap and water.