Every teacher will know the struggles of dealing with crumpled-up pieces of paper that are smudged with fingerprints, food, spit, and a whole other array of indescribable fluids. The reality is that you can’t reuse handouts. Realistically you can’t “share copies across your classes. You will always cringe at the thought of printing 150 copies a day for every handout and resource (5 classes x 30 students).
Every teacher will also know of the struggles of dealing with temperamental printers. Sometimes, it’s just not justifiable to constantly print texts, pictures, and papers for them to be thrown away or damaged within a day. You need something more permanent that you can trust your kids with.
If this is something you can relate to, it sounds like you need a laminator. Laminators are trusty and underrated pieces of equipment for every teacher, whether they teach science or social studies, but it’s not often that you will see one in every classroom.
A laminator is a luxury, but soooo worth it! If you’re looking for a laminator for your classroom or office at home, I have found the best laminators on the market for every teacher!
Best Laminator Reviews
Our Top Pick: Scotch Thermal Laminator
If you’re in a rush, you should check out this Scotch Thermal Laminator. This is a budget-friendly laminator bundle that comes with 100 laminating pouches to kickstart your laminating journey.
This laminator is 9” wide and suitable for a variety of laminating needs – from protecting important texts on A4 paper to keeping children’s artwork safe. This is a popular laminator for teachers and parents alike as it does the job conveniently, efficiently, and quickly.
This product is lightweight, small, and cool to the touch to prevent accidental burning. It has a two roller system that offers two temperature settings, which means the “thermal” aspect helps to eliminate any air bubbles. It usually takes around 2 minutes to heat up, which is then indicated by a light.
The additional laminating pouches are a bonus, because it means you can save extra dollars from buying separate pouches that might not be suitable for this product.
The laminating pouches are 3mm thick and A4 size (9” x 11”), which is ideal for protecting a variety of paper – from essays to displays to certificates. The laminator also can laminate 5mm thick pouches.
- Lightweight and slim – Easy for teachers to carry around
- Pouches included – Additional 100 laminating pouches saves money
- Cool to touch – Cool shell isn’t a burning hazard despite thermal settings
- Won’t act in the same way as an expensive and advanced laminator
Best Quality Laminator: Fellowes 5736606 Laminator
This laminator is slightly wider than the Scotch Thermal Laminator, with the entry width accommodating up to 12 and a half inches.
This is one of the most advanced laminators on the market, which is why some teachers choose to spend a little more money to receive the best quality possible.
The standout feature of this Fellowes laminator is its 1-minute warm-up time. Gone are the days of waiting around for 10 minutes to be certain that your laminator is ready!
This InstaHeat Technology allows you to begin laminating shortly after turning it on, which will make your planning time much smoother.
This laminator comes with 3 temperature settings, including a cold setting that is suitable for pouches that don’t require heat. This means that you won’t have to worry about buying the wrong type of laminating pouches, because this laminator can laminate both self-adhesive and regular thermal pouches.
Alongside the quick warm-up, this product has an automatic shut off system that prevents it from overheating – which is also a huge energy-saving feature. It also laminates up to 12” of paper per minute, making this one of the fastest and most convenient laminators.
- Quick warm-up – InstaHeat Technology only takes 1 minute for the laminator to be heated
- Versatile – 3 temperature settings (including cold) are suitable for different types of pouches
- Auto shut off – Automatically turns off when it begins to overheat to stop energy waste and burning
- The most expensive laminator on our list
NOTE: This is the laminator we use at my school and it’s AWESOME! Lower quality laminators have a short lifespan. Your teaching career does not. Buy it once and pass it onto a new teacher when you retire:)
Most Affordable Laminator: Toyuugo Thermal Laminator
This is the ideal laminator for teachers on a tight budget. You need something fast that is affordable and will work for many months or years, after all.
This Toyuugo product is as convenient and efficient as it is affordable, with its sleek design that is easy to transport and useful temperature settings to get an abundance of work laminated.
Despite its price point, this is a versatile laminator that also comes with a corner rounder and a paper cutter to conveniently shape whatever you’re laminating into an ideal size.
It also has two temperature settings – hot and cold – which makes it compatible with both thermal and self-adhesive pouches.
The standout feature for this laminator is the ABS lever that prevents paper jams. In the event of a jam, simply push the lever to quickly release the paper or pouch.
If you’re experienced in trying to yank crumpled-up pieces of half-laminated paper from a laminator, this is a life-saver.
The only downfall of this laminator is that it takes around 3 to 5 minutes for it to warm up – though this is still much faster than older laminators that you would usually find in the back of the classroom closet. The warm-up time is worth it, however, as it can laminate up to 11” within a minute.
- Affordable – Won’t break your budget and surprisingly versatile for cost
- No jam – Lever helps to release trapped pouches and paper to prevent jams
- Versatile – Hot and cold laminating, paper cutter, and corner rounder all included
- Takes 3 to 5 minutes for the thermal setting to heat up
Most Versatile Laminator: Eficentline Laminator Machine
This laminator is most ideal for teachers who will want to laminate paper of various sizes – from small business cards to A3 sheets of paper. What an ideal feature for ultimate versatility!
Not only is this product suitable for laminating most paper sizes, but the Eficentline laminator comes with a handy corner rounder and a paper trimmer with optional cutting patterns.
Despite its multiple functions, this is a quiet laminator – which means you won’t have to wake up the neighbors during late-night planning or disrupt the kids in the classroom.
This laminator takes 3 to 5 minutes to heat up properly, which is slightly longer than other models, but still worth the wait.
The 2-roller system is suitable for both thermal and cold laminating jobs, and is cool to the touch to prevent burnt fingers. It is also equipped with an ABS button to eject pouches and paper if they get stuck to prevent jamming.
- Versatile – Laminates all paper sizes up to A3 and is equipped with a variety of functions for convenience
- Paper cutting feature – Create fun pieces of work with the unique paper cutting and corner rounder features
- Quiet – Minimal noise is made when the laminator is in use
- Takes 3 to 5 minutes to heat up, which is more than other models
Easiest Laminator to Use: Workize Thermal Laminator
If you’re a busy teacher, your priority is to find equipment that is easy to use so you can get the job done quickly and efficiently. The Workize Thermal Laminator is on our list for its user-friendliness and easy-to-use features.
This laminator comes with a hole puncher, a paper cutter, a corner rounder, and an additional 20 laminating pouches.
This is ideal for teachers who wish to work from home and in the classroom because of the useful features that not all laminators offer. In terms of what this product can laminate, it is suitable for A6, A5, and A4 paper.
The 2-roller system heats up within 3 minutes and can laminate up to 12” of paper within a minute for ultimate convenience.
This laminator is equipped with two temperature settings (3 mils and 5 mils), which makes it compatible with self-adhesive pouches and thermal ones. It is also equipped with a quick-release button to prevent jams.
- User-friendly – Easy to use and produces work quickly
- Additional features – Useful features included, such as a corner rounder, paper cutter, and hole puncher
- Cold and hot settings – Suitable for thermal and self-adhesive pouches
- The cord is fairly short which can be limiting
What to look for in a laminator
A laminator is a teacher’s best friend. Whether you choose to keep it in your classroom or your home office, it’s an essential and underrated appliance.
I use laminators frequently for my class and for myself (because laminating is oh-so-satisfying, don’t deny it) – from preparing useful revision cards for my students to laminating certificates to congratulate them for their hard work.
Like printers, laminators can be temperamental. If you find a cheap one that seems almost too good to be true, odds are you’re going to be waiting 20 minutes for it to heat up.
Once it’s heated up, every piece of paper and pouch gets jammed and creates that ugly rippled effect (along with the smell of burning plastic).
To help you out, here are some things to look for in a laminator.
Laminators should be all about convenience. If you are willing to wait 5 minutes for it to be usable, then the warm-up time shouldn’t be an issue. However, most teachers will want an appliance that can heat up quickly so they can get the job done fast.
I know the struggles of lesson-prepping and how there are so few hours in the day to get everything done, so make sure to think about the warm-up time.
However, in some cases, laminators might claim to have a 1-2 minute warm-up time but actually need around 10 minutes. This can be frustratingly misleading, because you want a product that is high-performance, not one that doesn’t stick the laminate pouches together properly.
Also, look at how quickly the product laminates paper. Anything that can laminate up to 12” of paper within a minute is the ideal speed for a laminator.
The most common form of laminating pouches are known as “hot” and “cold” pouches.
Most laminators will offer temperature settings that are appropriate for both of these pouches, so make sure to research the product to check this. The hot pouches are most ideal for preventing bubbles and air pockets, whilst the cold pouches are best for energy-saving.
Laminators will also have different compatibility of thickness for pouches and lengths, so make sure to keep this in mind, too. Not every laminator will be suitable for laminating A3 pieces of paper!
The thicker the pouch, the more durable and long-lasting the laminated paper will be. Thinner pouches are probably more ideal for giving laminated texts and paper to students, as they are less likely to be appreciative of thick pouches!
You have to consider the size of the laminator. Some laminators will be bigger and heavier than others, which can be annoying to carry around if you’re bringing the laminator from your home to your classroom.
If you’re planning on taking your laminator around with you, you should probably think about how heavy it will be to prepare yourself!
Of course, you’ve got to think about your budget and the price of the laminator you want. If your school will provide financial support, or if you have a personal budget, keep this in mind.
You don’t want to spend all of your money on an expensive laminator that works the same way as a cheaper one – nor do you want to risk it and buy a cheap laminator that breaks after 10 uses.
Why teachers need laminators
Once you start laminating, you will never return. It can be exhausting having to constantly print out multiple sheets of paper, from excerpts of textbooks to handy educational posters to stick around your classroom, so why not create something almost impossible to destroy?
Laminating stops paper from getting damaged from the wrath of students. This could be from various liquids to rips and tears, and food stains to doodles.
Laminated paper is super easy to clean (great for avoiding the spread of germs and bugs in a classroom!) and provides a nice amount of permanence to keep their work safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I choose a laminator?
The key things to consider when choosing a laminator are the warm-up time, the speed of laminating, what paper sizes it can laminate, the pouch thickness, the size of the laminator, and the price.
The warm-up time and speed of laminating can often give you an indication of the quality of the laminator. You don’t want to be waiting around for 20 minutes for your laminator to heat up when you could have finished the entire job by then – nor do you want to have to wait for it to laminate an A4 piece of paper for five minutes.
Most laminators will be equipped with an ABS lever or button, but make sure to prioritize this. This feature is designed to quickly eject trapped paper or pouches to prevent them from jamming, which can be detrimental to your machine. This will prevent melted pouches and potential replacements.
You should also consider general factors like the price and size of the laminator, and what paper sizes it can laminate. You should think about what you are most likely to laminate frequently, so you can choose between a versatile laminator and one designed for just A4 paper.
How do you dispose of laminated paper?
Laminated paper, unfortunately, isn’t recyclable. The laminated pouches are made of a flexible plastic, which can only be used once.
However, as they can keep paper protected for many years, they’re not considered un-eco-friendly. You can always try to remove the laminate pouch to recycle the paper inside if you are wanting to dispose of it.
Is it worth it to get a laminator?
Laminators are one of those underrated appliances that everyone needs but nobody seems to have. They are similar to printers – you don’t realize how handy they are until you have one in your office, on your desk, or in your classroom.
Laminators aren’t generally expensive appliances, and they can last many months to a couple of years if they are treated well. They can turn an array of paper into permanent objects with a protective layer of flexible plastic, which is ideal for protecting printed photos, certificates, children’s drawings, texts, and more.
Buying your own laminator also means you won’t have to worry about renting one from someone else or having to go into your boss’s office out of shame for not having a laminator.
Is laminated paper toxic?
Fortunately, laminated paper isn’t toxic. These pouches are designed to protect paper from every type of impact – from coffee spillages to children’s mouths – so they aren’t toxic.
That being said, try not to lick these pouches immediately if they were used in a hot laminator, as they need time to cool down. If you’re laminating around kids, cool laminators might be more beneficial as you won’t have the burning plastic smell.
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