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Will varnishing a paper mural cause the ink from image to bleed and ruin everything? Answered

hello all!

so i've been planning an awesome mural project for my new apartment, but i have a few questions to resolve before i can proceed..

first, i was going to use 3M's super 77 spray adhesive to fix it to the wall..terrible idea?

second, i've heard of people using some sort of varnish to seal things and protect them from damage, possibly even make it easier to clean..my only question is whether or not this could cause the ink from the paper to bleed, thereby ruining everything and causing me to descent into a childlike rage?

i should mention that i was planning on rasterbating an image to create the mural and then having it printed at a copy centre somewhere. does paper and printer type (laser vs. inkjet) make a difference in terms of varnishing potential?thanks! :D?


There are products out there which are intended for use on water-based, art/murals. Here's a link to one, it's simply called a Mural Varnish.

Regardless of the medium you choose, you should really do a test with the varnish to ensure you don't "descend into a childlike rage". This can be easily achieved by using a second piece of paper or canvas (whatever you're using), and applying the same medium you want for the mural (so either laser or inkjet printing, or freehand inks). You may want to test more than one method with the varnish, and do a comparison check to see what you like best in the end.

If the apartment is a rental, then I wouldn't recommend the spray adhesive (It'll be a huge pain to remove); and if you'd like to take this mural with you when you move, then you might want to mount it on canvas, or a rigid board. If you own the place, then it's your right to do with the walls as you please!

Let me know if you have any questions. ;)

Thanks so much!

For the spray adhesive, is there anything that I can use to stick regular printer paper onto the wall that *isn't* a pain to remove? I can't really afford anything other than printing it on regular paper. :-/

You're welcome.

Installation can be done a few ways (inexpensively), but it depends on the finished size and the wall. So... How large will this mural be? and is it going to be one large sheet or several pieces put together? Is the wall your installing the mural on a high traffic area (like a hallway), or is it behind a sofa (and less likely to be disturbed)?

the wall that i'm working with is about 195x95 inches or 16x9 feet. rasterbator will give me the image blown up over several sheets of paper but I'm not sure how many, i'm guessing somewhere between 100-200. i haven't decided if i should stick each sheet individually or attach a few together into larger pieces and proceed that way..the wall i'm installing it on will be behind a sofa, so not much traffic though the other half of the wall is shared with the kitchen, so the table is next to it, but not touching.


For those dimensions, I would look at mounting the sheets onto cardboard (which you can then hang like a normal picture to the wall). 

Staples (for one example), sells corrugated cardboard in sheets. Its not meant for this purpose, but its cardboard (so you can pretty much use it however you want). What I found is a bundle of 5 sheets. Each sheet is 48" X 96", which will give you more than enough area for your dimensions. Plus the bundle is less than $30.

Here's the link to Staples. Let me know if you need anymore help. ;-)

That is an *excellent* idea! I will do this.

How would I mount it afterwards though? With nails?

This is where 3M comes in... (but not the spray adhesive). ;-)

They sell large picture hanging strips. They come in 4 sets per pack, and each set holds up to 16 pounds, so, if you use all 4 sets, (in theory) you have 64 pounds for total weight (but I'd be very surprised if your mural weighted anywhere close to that).

The nice part about the strips is that they leave no damage to the walls, but stay up for as long as you want. Here's a link to them at Amazon.com for $4.30 (but you should find them at most hardware stores).


thank you so very very much for all your help, i think this is exactly what i'll do!

: )

You're welcome. Glad to help.

If you want more help (from other members), then leave this question open, otherwise use one of the blue buttons to choose a best answer (which will mark this question as "answered" on the main page).

Also, post a picture to me (even on my orangeboard) if you want of your mural. I'd like to see how it turns out. ;-)


6 years ago

In short--- depends.

Any water based ink, which is most ink from Ink jet printers will run with moisture. However oil base products will not bother water base ink. Solvent based inks, like from markers will not be bothered by water but may run with any solvent based coating.
Applying something like varnish will probably change the appearance of the paper. Also varnish yellows over time. Lacquer is a better choice.

There are special spray on coatings that are designed for art, like chalk drawings, that do not alter the appearance. One I know of is a Matte finish which I used to use on business cards I printed from my ink jet to prevent them from running if they got wet. It is made by Krylon and called Matte Finish.

Keep in mind also that most paper yellows when exposed to light and air, and often even when it is not. So if you glue any kind of paper to a wall you should think of it as only temporary.

What you really need to do is test anything you are thinking of using on a scrap first. It's kind of like the saying "measure twice, cut once".

By the way, laser toner is pretty much impervious to both water and solvents since it is bonded onto the paper with heat. But it can be affected by high heat and actually transfer off the print.

Thank you so much, your reply was very helpful!

Something you said made me think of another question though. If I cut out the white border around the paper once the picture is printed, will that help with yellowing? I just don't want the paper to peel off over time.

Thanks again!