It’s no secret that teachers need to laminate a lot of stuff. Schools have laminators, but they’re often broken or in use, so teachers frequently buy their own personal machines (see our recommendations here), which use thermal laminating pouches. Another option is self-sealing pouches, which are adhesive. Whichever you need, we’ve scoured the reviews and found the best laminating pouches for teachers in a variety of sizes and thicknesses.
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Thermal Laminating Pouches
Most laminators use heat-activated thermal pouches. Standard machines can handle 3 mil and 5 mil thick pouches, while higher-end models take thicknesses up to 10 mil. The thicker the pouch, the sturdier the finished material. Be sure to set your machine to the proper thickness (if necessary) before you start for best results.
Scotch Thermal Laminating Pouches (3 mil)
With more than 35,000(!) positive reviews on Amazon, these are undoubtedly some of the best laminating pouches out there. Use them for anything up to 8.5 x 11 inches with any thermal laminator.
Here’s what one reviewer has to say, “I am an elementary teacher and … These are perfect. I used learning activities printed on card stock and ran them through the machine. I’d say I ran about 40 sheets in about 30 minutes. I printed my activities on ‘economy mode’ to save ink, and these laminating pouches actually made the text look BRIGHTER which is just a bonus.”
Nuova Premium Thermal Laminating Pouches (3 mil)
These pouches are nearly as well-reviewed as the Scotch brand and at a much lower price. One main difference is that the Nuova brand seems to have less static between the two pages of the pouch. Some reviewers like this, while others note that it’s harder to keep smaller items in place as you run them through the laminator. For the price, though, we think they’re worth a try.
Fellowes Thermal Laminating Pouches (3 mil)
These pouches have plenty of good reviews, although many note they seem thinner than some other brands’ 3 mil offerings. To avoid curling at the edges, users recommend removing the laminated document from the machine immediately and laying it down on a flat surface to cool.
From one reviewer: “I laminate weekly for my classroom and home and I needed sheets that weren’t flimsy while still affordable. These are it. I mostly use them for classroom activities we do daily and so far they’ve held up pretty well.”
Crystal Clear Universal Thermal Laminating Pouches (3 mil)
According to reviews, these pouches seem to have more static between the sheets than other brands. Those who laminate lots of smaller items in one pouch really like this feature and consider it an advantage. Otherwise, these sheets earn good reviews overall. Some think they might be a bit on the thin side as well, but not to the point that it affects performance.
Apache Laminating Pouches (5 mil)
The majority of laminators can handle 5 mil pouches in addition to 3, for when you need protection that’s a little bit sturdier. These Apache sheets are among the best laminating pouches in the 5 mil category, with plenty of positive reviews.
“As a kindergarten teacher I laminate everything!! This has saved me so much time and money … I can laminate my own work whenever I need it and it is sturdier than the school lamination. I highly recommend this to anyone who needs to laminate items!”
Office Depot Laminating Pouches (5 mil)
Reviews of this brand are overwhelmingly positive, with users citing the quality of the product over and over.
Here’s an example: “These are excellent quality! I loved that they are thick and stiff. I expected a store brand to be thin and flimsy, but it was the only ones they had that fit my laminator, so I got them anyway. Glad I did. Would definitely buy again!”
Simply Cool Laminating Pouches Variety Pack (5 mil)
While you can always trim larger pouches to size once you’re done, that can lead to wasted material. This variety pack includes multiple sizes from business card through letter size. The quality is good, too, according to hundreds of 5-star reviews.
Per one user, “Everything you laminate comes out crystal clear with no fogginess or bubbles. It’s very easy to trim the edges without opening up the lamination. And the best part is that I can use dry-erase markers on them. They wipe off easily and don’t stain the pouches.”
GBC Laminating Sheets (10 mil)
If your laminator can handle 10 mil sheets (note that many of the lower-priced models cannot), these are a good choice. They’re available in letter and legal size, and offer good clarity and quality.
“I’ve tried a variety of brands of 10 mil pouches over the years,” shares one user. “These are a great value and produce the most consistent bubble-free result in an inexpensive machine.”
Scotch 11″ x 17″ Thermal Laminating Pouches (3 mil)
For machines that can handle larger sizes, we recommend these Scotch brand laminating pouches. Like other Scotch products, they’re of excellent quality and easy to use.
A reviewer says, “I’ve been incredibly impressed with all of the laminating pouches I’ve purchased from this brand. The value is incredible! I’m an elementary teacher with over 20 years of classroom experience in first through fifth grades. I tend to laminate everything I can so my shared teaching materials will last. What I love about this particular size of pouches is that I can fit so many small sized items for my centers so that I can maximize every inch of the laminating film.”
Office Depot 11″ x 17″ Laminating Pouches
Need larger pouches in bulk? Try this pack from Office Depot. Reviewers like the quality, noting they don’t wrinkle and laminate perfectly on a single pass.
Self-Sealing Laminating Pouches
If you don’t have a laminator, you can still protect your documents. Self-sealing pouches and sheets are adhesive, so you can use them on their own. They require a little more care to avoid air bubbles, so go slowly and apply even pressure. Many users recommend practicing on scrap paper first to perfect the process.
Scotch Self-Sealing Laminating Pouches, 8.5″ x 11″
Scotch’s self-sealing option gets rave reviews, so they belong on this list of the best laminating pouches. The thick sheets provide a thick sturdy finish, as long as you carefully follow the directions provided. Users also note that they work very well with dry-erase markers.
Avery Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets, 9″ x 12″
Use these individual sheets to laminate one or both sides of your documents. While some reviewers report difficulties removing the liner paper, others note that the results are worth the effort.
“As a teacher, I will never be without these again. I had questions about the lamination quality because these do not require heat. However I love these sheets, and I use them on a regular basis when I do not have the time to wait for lamination.”
Everest Self-Seal Laminating Pouches, 9″ x 11.5″
These thick 10 mil pouches provide strong protection, making them ideal for classroom use. Note that they’re only adhesive on one side of the pouch, so use patience when you’re applying them to avoid air bubbles.
Office Depot Single-Sided Laminating Sheets, 9″ x 12″
Use these thinner sheets to laminate items up to 8.5 by 11 inches, on one side or both. Sheets are ideal for projects like attaching names to desks or labels to bins, too. You get 100 in the pack, enough for quite a few projects.
Office Square Peel & Stick Self-Adhesive Laminating Sheets
These are slightly thicker than Office Depot’s brand, and have thousands of five-star reviews.
One reviewer says, “Nice thick plastic, not sticky-grabby like some so are moderately repositionable while applying. I used them to laminate children’s workbooks for dry-erase crayons which worked great on this plastic.”
Do you have an opinion on the best laminating pouches? Come share on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, don’t miss the Top 10 Best Paper Cutters for Teachers.