Inkjet Print Protection: Tips for Using Inkjet Protective Spray

If your inkjet printer uses aqueous dye or pigment inks, your print may need some additional protection, depending on the type of print you produce and how and where you plan to use it. To protect small quantities of photo and art prints that will be handled before framing or bookbinding, the best option is an inkjet protective spray.

About Inkjet Protective Sprays

Inkjet protective sprays seal the surface of photos and artwork printed with aqueous inks on fine art papers from Hahnemuhle, Moab by Legion Paper, Innova, Museo and other companies. Some sprays can also be used with glossy and matte fine art photo papers.

Hahnemuehle Protective Spray fixes the colors of the pigment and dye inks to the paper without altering the surface structure of the paper.

Without an inkjet protective spray, your prints can be easily damaged by fingerprints, dirt, moisture, abrasion, and exposure to UV light.

For prints used to make books or albums, aqueous pigment inks may transfer from the surface of one print to a facing page when the book is closed.

Inkjet protective sprays for fine art prints are formulated to be completely transparent. They also don’t alter the appealing tactile surface structure of the art paper.

Tips for Applying Sprays

The key to maximizing protection is to ensure that all areas of the print are covered by the spray. Here are a few tips for applying the lacquer-based inkjet protective sprays required for aqueous inks on fine art paper.

  • Work in a well-ventilated area, away from open flames, sparks, or high heat.
  • Wear safety goggles or glasses.
  • Consider testing the spray on a few small proof prints first.
  • Wait at least 15 minutes after the print comes off the printer, then apply the first light coat.
  • Hold the can about 6 to 8 inches from the surface of the print.
  • Cover the entire print by spraying the first coat in a horizontal path.
  • Apply a second light coat, using a vertical spray path.
  • To ensure the print is fully protected, consider applying a third light coat. Spray diagonally from corner to corner.
  • If the print will not be mounted or framed behind glass, apply the coating to both the front and back of the print.
  • Allow at least 20 minutes for the coating to dry. Drying may take longer if you are working in a humid environment.

Where to Buy

Freedom Paper sells Hahnemuhle Protective Spray, which was specifically engineered to fix the colors of pigment and dye ink to prevent color fading over time. The spray includes a UV-light absorber that offers additional protection against light-induced fading. Acting like a fine film that is undetectable to the touch, Hahnemhule Protective Spray increases the abrasion resistance of inkjet fine art papers so that the risk of fingerprint marks and scratches are reduced. A 400 ml aerosol can provide two to three protective coats on 20 to 40 8.5 x 11‐in. images.

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