Budget Laminators – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Teachers have long known the joy of laminators, yet with the long ago introduction of the budget laminator, that singular joy has entered the home. From homeschoolers to Scout Moms (and Dads!), crafty fellows to office workers – there is a reason for a budget laminator.
I LOVE my laminator! There, I said it. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my laminator. It arguably gets as much use as my printer, and with two kids running around in need of entertainment and education – that is quite a bit. A few days ago, I was eating lunch with a friend, happily showing her the new flash cards I made for my 5 year old when she asked,
“You have a laminator??” At first I just laughed, but then the shock hit me.
“You don’t?” Seriously, I was a surprised. OK – so I may be a bit Type A and hard on organization, but a Budget Laminator goes in the ‘need’ category for me. I don’t use it everyday, but I do bring that wonderful heating machine out at least once a week. And now that my preschooler is eager to learn to read (read my post on that adventure) I am using it even more.
Some of my current projects include:
Fry Words Ring
The First 50 Fry Words Rings (The FREE download comes with the first 300). You can find it on Teachers Pay Teachers – an amazing website with so, so many resources – many of them free! If you are a Teacher or a Homeschooling Parent, you NEED to check this site out!
My eldest daughter is in 1st Grade. They have been using a counting chart in class and it has been referenced several times in her homework – so I did a quick Google search, found a license free, customizable one and printed it out. You can find it here on Math-Aids, along with a plethora of other, useful math related printables and lessons. They offer a membership which features ad-free browsing, yet I have not succumbed to the temptation… yet.
For a beginner writer and counter, forming the numbers correctly can be a challenge. When I saw my youngest struggling, I decided that printing numbers 1-20 practice sheets would suit.
This one was a struggle for me. I HATE behavior charts! There are numerous studies and articles out there that note the harmful affects of such a chart, like this one from The Washington Post, or this one from Teaching In Progress. That said… they still use them in classrooms – despite the studies or parent complaints. My daughter gets excited when she gets a ‘clip up’, while simply shakes her head when she gets a ‘clip-down’. We talk often in our house about behavior and how we can strive to be better people, to ourselves and to others. In the midst of yet another sibling throw-down, I asked them what could help. My savvy first grader asked for the chart… which is something I had already told them I did not want to do.
So I said yes. I think I shocked them – but I did it, I made it and I even hung it in the living room. We have had the colorful chart on full display for about a week now, and while I cannot advocate that it is working, I have noticed that both of them are trying to find out exactly will give them a ‘clip up’. Clever devils.
I doubt the thing will stay… there is something about it that dismays me, but it’s there for now. I have learned other, valuable tricks from my daughter’s teachers, like this one about getting them to actually listen, maybe this trick will also be placed in my ‘win’ file… or maybe not.
I’ll let you know.
These are just some of the projects I have made recently with my thermal laminator. I have also made numerous blank pages for drawing along with practice pages for letter practice, inspirational posters for the walls and more! Maybe I am a bit laminator obsessed….
But can you blame me? These things are SO HANDY! And so affordable! Many Budget Laminators start at around $20, while ones with more features can fall into the $30 range, or higher if you need all the bells and whistles. Pick up a large pack of Laminate sheets from an online retailer and you’re good to go!
If you are in the market, here is:
My list of the Best Budget Laminators
Please note that the following may contain affiliate links – this means that if you choose to make a purchase via these links, I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! For my complete disclosure, please see here.
AmazonBasics Thermal Laminator
This is the one I use the most – it suits for quick projects, or even longer ones – like the Fry Word Ring shown above. It’s quiet and easy to use. It can accommodate pouch thicknesses from 3ml to 5ml, with a paper width up to a full letter size. It also has a quick release button for any jams you may experience, though I have not run into any over the 2+ years I have been using it.
It takes a while to warm up – and can get warm/hot to the touch. It is also fairly slow.
While a small scale work horse, this Thermal Laminator at times fails to seal my pouches completely, especially if I have place two papers in the pouch for a dual sided project. An easy fix is to simply run it through again.
Scotch Thermal Laminator Combo Pack, Includes 20 Laminating Pouches 8.9 Inches x 11.4 Inches (TL901C-20)
IT COMES WITH 20 POUCHES! Ok – sorry to yell, but that is pretty cool. Mind you, if you start laminating, you may just find yourself running out of those 20 pouches pretty quickly and opting to buy the larger, 100pk options.
What makes this a great Budget Laminator is the ease of use. It has two rollers and two heat settings, can seal pouches from 3ml to 5ml and up to 9″ in width.
You may need to let it heat up a bit longer than the instructions call for, just to make sure the temperature is adequate.
While I have never had an issue, some reviewers noted that the machine did not work upon delivery or stopped heating after only 60 days.
Swingline Laminator, Thermal, Inspire Plus Lamination Machine, 9″ Max Width, Quick Warm-Up, Includes Laminating Pouches, White/Gray
I have not personally used this laminator, but judging by 1000+ positive reviews, it seems to be a fan favorite. Heats in 4 minutes and comes in two different sizes, 9″ and 12″. I don’t know about you, but I can think of 100 things to laminate that are up to 12″! Laminates from 3ml to 5ml with a quick release for any jams.
Can curl up the edges. An easy fix (based on other models – this would have to be verified with THIS machine) would be to make sure you are there, guiding the pouch out when it releases from the machine and keep it flat. The pages are hot/warm when they come out and it they bump into anything sitting on the table, they can fold or curl.
Some reviewers noted a harsh, burning plastic smell upon use. Others mentioned that the first page is always ruined – though I cannot corroborate this as I have not used this laminator. If and when I do, I will update this post.
3 in 1 Blusmart OL288 Laminator, Laminating Machine Set with Paper Trimmer & Cutter & Corner Rounder, Thermal and Cold Laminating Fast Warm-up Paper Jam Prevention (White)
This machine packs a wallop of features as a reasonable, budget friendly price. Suitable for both hot and cold laminating (please note, you need cold laminate pouches) and offers a fast warm-up of 3-5 minutes. It also has a trimmer, which for many, is a huge plus.
The trimmer may not be sharp enough for your projects, or work at all.
Slightly higher in price than others mentioned. Some reviewers noted that it stops working after some time or that it can eat the sheets.
Now that you have settled on which Budget Laminator to use at home, you need pouches and pens to go with it! I’m a cheap girl, so I generally aim for the most bang for my buck – which means large packages at decent prices.
Scotch Thermal Laminating Pouches, 8.9 x 11.4-Inches, 3 mil thick, 100-Pack (TP3854-100)
AmazonBasics Thermal Laminating Pouches – 8.9-Inch x 11.4-Inch, Pack of 100
You can also pick up some dry erase markers to go with your new projects. Some of the colors may not erase completely, but a quick wipe with rubbing alcohol takes care of that.
Crayola Washable Dry-Erase Markers, 12 Count
I also love the water erase makers -the don’t smudge or smear (too much) and they erase cleanly when run under water.
EXPO 16078 Vis-A-Vis Wet-Erase Overhead Transparency Markers, Fine Point, Assorted Colors, 8-Count
These are just a few of the many Laminators out there – and each can serve home use very well. The project ideas are endless and the supplies needed are totally affordable.
What about you?
Do you have a Budget Laminator? Or full scale variety? Leave a comment, let me know – I would love to talk to you!!
Love it! I just said i needed one! Thank you!
I’ve gone a little nuts laminating things in my house! LOL