How To Waterproof Paper

You’ve finally finished sketching one of your best works yet. It’s so good that you want to keep it, but you want to make sure nothing happens to it.

Unfortunately, there isn’t anything that can save paper from an accidental fire, but you can waterproof it to prevent it from being turned to mush by a spill or a flood. But how do you waterproof paper without a laminator?

If you have an important document or drawing you want to keep forever, you’ll need to seal it with something that will last and more importantly, something that won’t ruin the paper or smudge what’s on the page. Keep reading to learn all the different ways you can waterproof any piece of paper to preserve it for years to come.

How To Waterproof Paper

How To Waterproof Paper Using Wax

There are three different types of wax you can use that will provide a solid waterproof coating for any piece of paper. However, each of these waxes must be air-dried at room temperature, so do not pop your paper in the fridge to speed things up, as that will only cause cracks in the wax.

Candle Wax

When you use a candle, you don’t need to prep the candle or paper, but you should do a test on another blank piece of paper to see how hard you will have to press to get a smooth coating. You can use any kind of candle, as long as it’s not too soft. You can even use a scented candle to give your paper a little extra something to remember with a sweet aroma.

After you’ve figured out the right amount of pressure to use, rub the candle all over the piece of paper until it is completely coated. Lay down a piece of wax paper, so the wax won’t smear what is on the page when you’re doing the backside. You don’t need to let it dry or set. It’s alright to be hung up on the fridge or to be put away in a memory box. The choice is yours. 

1 X Hanna's 3x6 Pillar Candle

1 X Hanna's 3x6 Pillar Candle

  • 3 Inch by 6 Inch Candle
  • 18-19 Hour Burn Time
  • White Color

These candles are well designed, heavy, and good for cratering waterproof paper.


Beeswax is a gentle clear wax that can be used to waterproof paper. Instead of rubbing it on like candle wax, you should prepare the beeswax by melting in a crockpot until it’s in liquid form.

While the wax is still hot, take your paper with a pair of tongs and dip it in until it’s been completely covered. Immediately hang to drip dry with clothespins over a pan or newspaper. Let dry and cure until the wax has become stiff.

HUNNYBEE Organic White Beeswax Pellets

HUNNYBEE Organic White Beeswax Pellets

  • USDA certified organic, triple-filtered and responsibly sourced
  • 100% pure and unbleached, with mild natural sweet scent
  •  easy to melt for DIY projects such as body butters, waterproof paper etc.

I absolutely love how easy these are to use. The size of the pellets help them melt quickly.

Otter Wax

Otter Wax is a well-known waterproof agent that comes in different versions for many types of materials including suede, leather, among others. For paper, you’ll want to make sure to get the Fabric Otter Wax that is better suited for thin material like paper.

Before applying otter wax, you must heat it with a hairdryer to get it to an easily spread consistency. Next, lightly brush on the wax, being careful not to smudge what is written on your paper.

Make sure there is absolutely no excess to create uneven lumps on the dry page. Then, completely dry one side in a low-humidity area before working on the other side.

How To Waterproof Paper

Polish or Lacquers

You can use clear coat paints or nail polishes to waterproof paper, although clear coat paints should be done with sprays to avoid waste or excess product. Since they’re made of some of the same indgredients, they’re grouped into the same category.

Clear Nail Polish

Clear nail polish is an inexpensive and quick way to waterproof a sheet of paper. Try to get thinner formula like Sally Hansen’s Insta-Dry Top Coat to prevent clumping and for an even coating on paper.

Simply paint the top coat on and hang up the paper with clothespins to drip-dry over the sink or scrap newspaper. Leave to completely dry and then do the other side.

Krylon K01303007 Acrylic Spray Paint

Krylon K01303007 Acrylic Spray Paint

  • Moisture-resistant and smudge-proof
  • Improves artwork and photo contrast
  • Dries to the touch in 10 to 15 minutes. Dry to handle in 2 hours

Quick, easy, cheap fix for crafting

Acrylic Spray Coating

Using an acrylic spray coating is by far the easiest way to waterproof any kind of paper. Choose a spray coating made specifically for artwork like Krylon Crystal Clear acrylic coating. 

To apply, spray at least 9 inches away from the sheet of paper to evenly coat. Immediately hang up with clothespins over sheets of newspaper to drip-dry until the coating has hardened.

Mod Podge For Paper

One of the greatest inventions known to crafters is Mod Podge. This wonder-mixture is a water-based sealant that makes the perfect waterproofing solution for paper, especially artwork. Plus, you choose from glossy or matte for your preferred finish on the paper. Glossy is usually best, for a clear coating.

The application is simple, just paint it on, let it hang and air dry, and then repeat the same steps on the other side. Dry time is the only downside because Mod Podge will take longer to completely dry than the rest of the waterproofing agents. Also, you will have to do multiple coats for a fully waterproof seal.

If you don’t have Mod Podge, you can also make a DIY version of this sealant with 1 part water and 1-part white glue. This mixture won’t last as long as Mod Podge, but it does work well to seal the paper from water.

Mod Podge Gloss Waterbase Sealer

Mod Podge Gloss Waterbase Sealer

  • Good Quality material
  • Used for arts and craft work
  • Cleans up easily while wet with soap and water

Perfect for Paper! The perfect mod podge for adhering paper to paper.

The Importance of HangingThe Wet Paper To Dry

There are many benefits to hanging your paper to dry, rather than laying it down to dry. The first and most obvious is that when you’re using wax or acrylic waterproofing spray, you can waterproof both sides at once.

But the real reason behind this is that when you apply a liquid and then leave a sheet of paper laying flat to dry, the liquid will create blotches on the other side, where it has soaked completely through. This makes the coating uneven for the reverse side. Alternatively, hanging the paper to dry vertically helps the excess drip off instead of seeping through and will help each side to dry evenly.