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You can do a lot of things with a laminator: from waterproofing paper projects to creating surfaces that can be written on with dry erase markers (hello, chore charts), laminating is functional and fun.
We researched and evaluated laminating machines for speed, width, and warmup time, as well as their propensity to jam (frustrating!). Laminating machines like the Scotch Thermal Laminator are excellent for beginners, while a more sophisticated laminator like the Heidi Swapp MINC Foil Application is perfect for laminating projects that involve foiling.
Here are the best laminating machines.
Best Overall: Scotch TL901X Thermal Laminator
Pouch laminator sheets
Two temperature settings
May emit a smell when in use
Scotch is a household name thanks to its high-quality office supply products, including this stellar laminator. You can expect a consistently clean-looking product, thanks to its even heat distribution and crystal-clear laminating sheets, which are generously included. There are two temperature settings, as well as two laminating sheet thickness settings, 3 milliliters and 5 milliliters. Dual rollers inside the laminator promote a smooth, bubble-free outcome.
Note that this device relies on pouch-style laminating sheets (as opposed to rolls), which are typically easier to work with as they do not require cutting. The adhesion is fantastic, and the under $30 price tag makes it a truly exceptional value. For these reasons, this is our all-around favorite machine for beginners.
Best Budget: AmazonBasics Thermal Laminator Machine
Jam release lever
Quiet when in use
Similar to the Scotch laminator mentioned above, this runner-up laminator strikes the balance of good value and high quality. The machine isn’t the most beautifully designed—it’s definitely on the bulkier side—but it will deliver beautiful results. The machine is equipped with a “jam release” lever, which is handy for quickly alleviating paper jam frustrations. There are two thickness options, 3 milliliters and 5 milliliters. We give the adhesion gets a thumbs up, too.
For foiling projects, this laminator is an okay choice; that said, results may be slightly less ideal than a pricier laminator with more even pressure and heat. Overall, though, this device is a great pick for day-to-day lamination of documents and many crafts. Plus, the price is among the best we've seen on the market.
Best Versatile: Eficentline Laminator Machine With Paper-Trimmer
Straight, wavy, or perforated cuts
Built-in paper cutter
Fun design options
This laminator has a paper-trimmer feature built in, making it a super-convenient 2-in-1 product. The paper trimmer comes in handy when you want to cut edges and straight, precise lines. This laminator can be used with both hot and cold lamination, which keeps it ahead of its competitors. It’s also equipped with an internal temperature-control system which ensures things don’t get overheated—which is great for the machine’s lifespan, as well as the outcome of your project.
There’s a jam-release button, too, and dual-roller system for quiet and efficient use. The laminator is available in four different colors, including a wood-like option and a camo style. Another fun feature: this laminator can cut in lines that are straight, wavy, or perforated. Lastly, the device comes with 20 laminator sheets in small and large sizes.
Best for Scrapbooks: Fellowes Callisto 125 Thermal & Cold Laminator
12.5 inch width
Fellowes is a big name in the laminating world, and for good reason. Its laminators are high-performing and svelte to look at, too. There are numerous models to choose from, and this one is great for anyone who wants a durable, long-lasting option that performs at a pro level. It can fit paper sizes up to 12 ½ inches, making it a superb choice for scrapbooking (many scrapbook papers are 12 x 12).
We love that 3 milliliter and 5 milliliter thicknesses work in this machine—so, too, does self-adhesive lamination pouches for cold lamination. There are three temperature settings, and also a “hot swap” technology, which allows for virtually no waiting time between heating different documents. There’s an automatic shutoff feature, too, which is great for anyone who may be on the forgetful side or have safety concerns regarding kids and pets. This machine stays cool to the touch when in use, thanks to an internal temperature regulator.
Best Large: Floomp A3 13 inches Laminator, 7-in-1 Portable Machine
Long yet sleek
Lightweight and portable
Accommodates paper size up to 13 inches
Paper-jam reverse button is not the most effective
From a design standpoint, it’s hard to beat this sleek, ultra-modern laminator. It’s more than a pretty exterior, too: it’s multi-functioning. The machine can laminate documents up to A3 size, or 13 inches, making it an excellent choice for larger-format projects. Note that hot and cold lamination are possible with this machine. For hot functionality, it’s super fast with a one-minute heat up time.
We love that when in use, this device is mega-quiet. It’s also super slim and lightweight, making it a wonderful option for anyone who needs to carry their laminator from room to room. Bonus: This set comes with three paper photo frames, a corner-rounder, a paper slicer, and some adorable twine and clothespin accouterments. All things considered, this device is surprisingly affordable.
Best for Foil Crafts: Heidi Swapp MINCC Foil Applicator
Adorable design aesthetic
Great heat distribution
No auto-release feature
If you’re into foiling, you’ve probably heard of the MINCC. The device is a laminator, but it’s a laminator that is designed specifically for foil craft projects. It boasts superior heat distribution and the perfect amount of pressure to ensure your foil projects turn out as beautifully as possible. There are a whopping six heat settings and four rollers, which is more than most laminator machines.
From a design standpoint, this device is cute, too, thanks to its slim profile and adorable polka dots. The MINCC applicator is available in a mini 6-inch width and a larger 12-inch width; shown above is the 12 inch version, which is better for larger projects and accepts scrapbook-sized paper.
Best Professional: GBC Thermal Laminator
Auto shutoff feature
This one’s a bit of a splurge, but it’s a perfect example of the old adage “you get what you pay for.” This device delivers stunning pro-level results with minimal wait time or fuss. The device heats up in 60 seconds and can accommodate paper up to 12 inches. It’s perfect for scrapbook paper and any type of paper that’s smaller in size than a foot.
This laminator has a cool, modern design that works with any office or craft room aesthetic without adding bulk. There’s a 3-year warranty on the device, too, so you can rest assured that your money will have been well spent! Auto shut-off and auto-jam detection are also included, as are 20 lamination sheets to get you started. The rollers on this one do a fantastic job at keeping the sheets smooth and wrinkle-free, which cuts down on frustration.
Best Small: Swingline Inspire Plus Laminator
Hot and cold lamination
Cannot accommodate larger scrapbook paper sizes
This user-friendly, portable model from GBC laminates cleanly and smoothly. It accommodates paper sizes up to 9 inches in width, which is less than some of the other models, but a non-issue for many smaller day-to-day projects. In addition to thermal lamination, this device also works with cold lamination pouches, making it more versatile than thermal-only options. Keep in mind that 3 milliliter and 5 milliliter laminating pouches work with this device. At 14 inches wide, this device has a small profile that won’t take up too much desk space.
The Scotch Thermal Laminator is perfect for beginners and intermediate users or occasional laminating. The point is excellent without compromising on quality. If you intend to use a laminator exclusively (or mostly) for foil crafts, we love the MINCC applicator. It applies the ideal amount of heat and pressure and is designed specifically for foil-based crafts.
What to Look for in a Laminating Machine
Laminators come in a variety of different widths. The width of a laminator determines the max width of the paper you can put in the laminator. If you plan to laminate large scrapbook pages, look for a laminator that accommodates at least 12 inches. If, however, you’ll be sticking to smaller projects, most standard 9-inch laminator widths will work.
The fastest laminators heat up within a minute or less, which is perfect if you anticipate daily use of your laminator. Other laminators may take longer, often around five or six minutes, to fully heat up. Laminating speed—or the amount of lamination a machine can achieve within a minute—is also a factor to consider, particularly if you plan to use your laminator for numerous pages.
Most laminating machines will tell you the speed at which they can laminate documents. This is typically written in millimeters per minute. Note that higher number equals faster speeds. If you’ll be laminating a ton of documents, speed will be more of an important consideration than if you’ll be laminating a few documents on an occasional basis.
How do you use a laminating machine?
The answer to this question depends on the exact laminator you end up purchasing, as each model is slightly different. Always be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions prior to using your laminator, particularly as thermal laminators may pose a potential safety risk if not used properly. Generally, laminators will come with laminating pouches (or, less commonly, rolls) that you insert into the machine. From there, you press a button, wait a bit, and voila! Your newy laminated project appears on the other side. Be sure to insert the lamination material in the correct way to avoid jams, wrinkles, and bubbles in your finished project.
Which is better, cold or hot laminating?
Both have their benefits. Hot laminating is typically easier than cold laminating, and the laminating materials are typically more cost-effective. That said, cold laminating—which uses pressure instead of heat—may be a better option for graphics printed from certain inkjet printers. If you want to experiment with both hot and cold lamination, look for a laminating machine that offers both hot and cold laminating features.
Can you laminate an acrylic painting?
Laminating an acrylic painting with a laminating machine is usually inadvisable, as the machine may affect the integrity of the paint. That said, there are lamination-type varnishes you can use on top of your acrylic painting to protect it.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Sophie Wirt is an NYC-based writer and editor, has been penning product reviews, interviews, and investigative pieces since 2015.
For this roundup, we considered a bevy of popular laminating machines and assessed them for their craft-friendliness and overall user-friendliness. We looked into speed, durability, and overall price-vs.-quality. We’ve included a range of price points and sizes, so as to find a laminating machine to suit every budget and need.