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Can You Coat Fine Art Papers?

Fine Art Prints, PAPER, Printmaking, Timless Matte, VARNISH

How to coat fine art papers to properly protect them for sale or collection.

Can you display them without glass? Will they fade? Are they protected? What about the coating, does it dry clear? Can I sell my art like this? What about UV protection? With as many questions as there are on this topic we wanted to take the time to devote a blog post on the subject.

The short answer to all of the above questions is “yes!” Let’s start by exploring the background and process and then get into the techniques and application.

If you’re looking for information on how long to dry your canvas prints, or how soon you can coat them.


When displaying fine art paper prints, the traditional way has always been framing the print behind glass. This has been an acceptable method for fine art paper, but is it the most cost effective? What are some disadvantages? To start, 1 clear disadvantage is cost.

Another is UV protection. While glass will protect your print from moisture and scuffing, if will not protect against UV light. This is where our Timeless Matte Varnish comes in. Timeless has a high level of UV inhibitors which offers incredible UV protection to your print without having to use UV printing ink or UV cured ink. Moreover, Timeless will protect your print from scuffing, moisture, abrasion and fading. But the main advantage is the finish of Timeless Matte.

When Timeless Matte dries, it is perfectly clear and has no sheen to it, making it a true matte. Our industry has waited too long for a true matte varnish, and with a strong investment and countless hours of R & D, we were able to make it happen. Having a true matte finish is a key advantage because you can now display your prints without glass, and the print will look just like it did when it came off your printer.

Although it may seem as if your print is “exposed” due to the lack of having a glass barrier, it is not the case. Timeless dries as a protective layer on top of your print which creates a barrier between the print and the elements. To coat fine art papers and canvas prints has always been an industry standard, and has been a relatively easy process to perfect which we have detailed here and here.

When it comes to fine art paper, there has typically been a misconception that it is difficult to achieve and causing the paper to curl. Most other types of varnish have a higher water content that can contribute to curl, and also could make some of the ink bleed. We specially formulated Timeless to work with canvas AND fine art paper so none of these issues ever occur. At the end of the day, we manufacture all our inkjet media and laminates to work TOGETHER, and you will see this process completed in the video below. For the video example, we used our Optica One smooth fine art paper. Optica One is a 300gsm, smooth bright white fine art matte paper and is made from 100% cotton.

The close up footage you see at the conclusion of the video is actual shots of a print on Optica One that was coated with Timeless Matte.


The video below outlines the process for applying the Timeless varnish to your paper prints. There are a few key points to remember when applying the coating. Timeless needs to be mixed thoroughly for 2-3 minutes. Using a foam roller and roller tray, pour the amount of Timeless you need into the tray. Use enough coating to saturate your roller, but let excess coating drip off the roller. Do not use the bumps on the roller tray as this texture may transfer from the foam roller to your print.

When you have covered your roller, begin coating the print by rolling in multiple directions. Use a light amount of pressure when applying as this helps the varnish dry evenly without dry spots. At first, you will see roller marks and bubbles. This is normal and will go away with additional passes. After you have covered the entire print, begin reducing the amount of pressure you apply until there are no visible roller marks or bubbles.

At this point you can stop rolling and let the print begin to dry. The print will appear milky for a few minutes, but as the Timeless dries the varnish will become clear. This process takes about 15-20 minutes; longer depending on your temperature and relative humidity. The prints need to remain flat during the drying process, and do not move them until they are completely dry. Using excess varnish will result in longer dry times, thicker finished prints, and may cause the edges to curl slightly. Remember, Timeless is a water based laminate so using a small amount will produce the best results.


Marc Leftoff at Gallery Street shows us his technique for applying Glamour 2 Giclee Varnish to our Elegance Velvet Textured Fine Art Paper:


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