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Laminating and Gutters?

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Nearly a year ago, I created a homemade game board from an old checkers board. To cover up the board, I had Kinkos print and laminate the graphics so that a dry-erase marker could be used directly on the game board. It has held up remarkably well over the past year, but as I begin to entertain the idea of self-publishing two issues arise:

1) Cost. Having Kinkos laminate every game board would pretty much elimate any profit margin. Is there a cheaper alternative to laminating that maintains the dry-erase ability? I have heard of laminate sprays, but is that really just a protective layer? What are dry-erase boards made from or covered with?

2) Ugly gutters. Since the graphics were laminated, they were too stiff and thick to be pressed in the gutters (where the game board folds). I would love to have a seamless gutter, but I couldn’t figure out a way how. My next board will be created on one of Protoparts quad-fold boards, so this will become an even greater challenge. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance,

Joined: 12/31/1969
Laminating and Gutters?

What about adhesive plastic (the type people use to wrap books)? It's quite pliable and therefore can "mold" itself in the gutters of the board. I've personally never used a "dry-erase" marker on adhesive plastic, but I have a feeling you can.

The only thing is that it may be a bit fiddly to stick if your board is very large. You'd have to try a sample first...

seo's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Laminating and Gutters?

You should check with your printer for glossy UV lamination. It's much more affordable, for large quantities (I mean hundreds or thousands) than any Kinko's-type of lamination.

I've just checked writing on the cover of a few glossy UV laminated books with a white board marker, and it works just like a whiteboard. I writes just fine, and erases easily.

It has the benefits of being a standart finishing option for printed materials, and being a one side lamination process, so lamination will not affect mounting. And your printer will probably be able (an willing) to handle the printing, the laminating and the mounting, thus giving you your boards ready to package (probably in the boxes your printer also provides you with) and sell.

As with any lamination, repeatidly flexing the board will, in the end, lead to the lamination breaking or getting detached from the board in the flexing line. But I'm pretty sure UV lamination will accept more flexing than Kinkos'.


Joined: 08/13/2008
You may want to be careful.

A few years ago I experimented with a bunch of things looking for coverings that work with whiteboard markers. I tried adhesive laminating sheets, page pockets, poster frames and plexiglass.

All of the above work the first 10 or 20 times. The marker stuff wipes off, because the surface is smooth. However, the dry marker ink is abrasive. Every time you wipe it off it makes tiny scratches, which make it harder to wipe off the next time.

Everything I tried wore out pretty fast. The best were:

1) Plastic page holders. The ones with very thin, very shiny plastic.
2) Poster frames. I used one at work for a year.

Plexiglass was the worst.

Don't let markerboard ink sit overnight, or it will probably eat its way into the board.

I recomend getting a small spray bottle, some paper towels, rubbing alcohol and a pack of Sharpies. You can't accidentally wash it off, it makes nice solid lines (unlike water based markers) and it cleans up easily with alcohol. Eventually paper towels will scratch it up and make it hard to wash, but it takes quite a while.

Laminating and Gutters?

Thank you all for your comments. They give me a few more ideas to experient around with.

A playtester recently suggested using wax pencils or washable crayons on the game board instead of dry-erase markers. While I like those ideas, I fear that the game board surface would wear out quicker. I will have to experient with those ideas as well.

Over the weekend, I stumbled upon Write On-Cling Perforated Poly Static Sheets. Has anyone used these or something similiar before? Can they be printed on? How flexible are they?

Thanks again,

Joined: 12/31/1969
Laminating and Gutters?

China markers work great on laminate, wipe off clean, and can be used again and again. They have the advantage over dry erase that they don't erase too easily (with dry erase on a board, just a touch can erase it).

-- Matthew

Laminating and Gutters?

China markers work great on laminate, wipe off clean, and can be used again and again.

I would agree that china markers are the best for use in games. I have experimented with a variety of pens and surfaces, and china markers work the best. They go on and come back off very easily (especially with the gloss laminates mentioned earlier). I noticed with dry-erase pens, some colors were more aggressive than others as far as eating their way into the laminate.

Since you're thinking about publication, and you will have no real control over the types, colors or quality of the markers included with your game, then go with what you know will work consistently and well over time (china markers).

As for the gutter, use a european fold. Such boards are scored and folded away from the artwork (so that the artwork is on the exposed edge when folded). When opened, the artwork lines up exactly so that there isn't a gutter. An example of a game that uses a eurpoean fold is the Knizia Lord of the Rings game. Granted, there's artwork on each side of the board. Imagine that the artwork is only on the side that is exposed when the board is folded and you'll get an idea of what I mean.

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