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I had a poster printed from a photo. I received it rolled up. Now, it doesn't lie flat; it curls.

How can I flatten it out? I'm thinking about laying it on a flat surface with heavy books on top of it for a few days, but that's slow and never works 100%.

edit:

Although this was called a poster by the printing place, it's actually on thick photographic paper, not the thin glossy paper that commercial posters are printed on.

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    It's slow but it works 100% as long as you press the entirety of the poster. Can confirm... – Just Do It Nov 7 '17 at 3:24
  • What size is the poster, and what do you plan on doing with it? If it's not too large, and you plan on hanging it for a while, Michael's usually has cheap frames for sale. Not only will it flatten it, but it will protect it during display. You can get up to 27x40 for usually around 25$. Smaller sizes are of course cheaper. – Jonathan Nov 9 '17 at 21:15
  • I've always just flattened it. About 60 or 70 concerts in my life and I ALWAYS get a poster. It's never failed, always fixed it 100%. What do you mean specifically when you say it doesn't work? It still tries to curl up? You probably just didn't do it long enough. Give it about 3 days or more. – user22794 Nov 9 '17 at 21:20
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The first question I have is what do you plan on doing with the poster?

If you need the poster to remain in a state so that it can be rolled up again, then I would suggest purchasing a piece of foam core or matboard from Hobby Lobby [Michaels, etc.] that is slightly larger than your poster. You would then unroll your poster, place the matboard on top and then add a bit of weight to the matboard. This will act as a press for the poster. It'll probably take a couple of days to retrain the paper to lay flat [slightly less with humidity and heat].

If you are going to hang the poster on the wall and leave it there for an extended period, I would suggest going to your local frame shop and have them mount the poster on the foam core or matboard. This will certainly flatten it out and provided it with some rigidity. They will use a spray adhesive and vacuum mount it to the board so, you won't be able to remove it or re-roll it.

My wife and I own a frame shop and that's how we do it anyways.

  • Adhesive sprays do not work using a vacuum. Adhesives work with a chemical bond which may be permanent or semi-permanent depending on your frame of reference, time-wise. – Stan Nov 9 '17 at 23:16
  • Alternately, spray only the foam core with a "removable" adhesive; let it "cure" for a few minutes (according to the instructions); and "mount" the clean dry poster by pressing it against the "tacky" background support. When you want to store the poster, peel it off the "tacky" mount—the adhesive remains on the mount—without any adhesive residue on the poster. It's the principle behind removable "Post-It" notes. – Stan Nov 9 '17 at 23:20
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Humidity helps paper "relax", but can cause some inks to run if excessive. Pressing flat as you suggest is safest when combined with gently dampening the back side, e.g. with a fine water mist - but test print solubility in a corner.

Reverse rolling is effective, but use a large-diameter tube (e.g. a tubular concrete form). It may crack the surface, if glossy, or leave wrinkles if not done carefully.

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    AVOID WATER. Dampening the paper is a sure way to wrinkle or warp the paper stock due to the large area and the inability to get the whole area damp enough without getting it too damp. The REAL problem is that the edges will dry at a different rate than the centre. When that happens, the edges will shrink leaving a big bulge in the centre which will never come out. – Stan Nov 6 '17 at 16:40
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Naturally, you first spoke to your supplier who eagerly gave you all the correct information regarding how to prepare your rolled poster for flat display.

I think that your idea of laying the print flat with weights is the best idea if you have the time.

If you are less patient, lay the print flat and re-roll the poster in the opposite "wind" as the poster arrived. Do not roll the poster tightly as the fibres need some time to "de-stress." You chance wrinkling the paper or breaking some fibres by tightly re-rolling the poster.

I have also used a dry (NO STEAM) clothes iron with some heat (lowest setting) on the back of some prints made from cotton (100% bond) because cotton relaxes with heat. The downside is that heat will change the colours of printing inks. You are fore-warned. If it may be an issue, get a sample so that you can check the permanence and stability of the colours.

  • I did speak with the printer - a drug store chain (Walgreens). They print in-store. Their poster paper comes off of a roll; it's pre-curled. The clerk is not a specialist in the science of printing. – BrettFromLA Nov 6 '17 at 17:41
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    My experience is that hand-rolling in reverse without a mandrel (e.g. the "Sonotube") leaves creases. – DrMoishe Pippik Nov 6 '17 at 21:56
  • +1 @DrMoishePippik This sounds like good advice; and, it certainly can't hurt. I personally use an 8" form for storing posters which will hang flat out of the tube. – Stan Nov 7 '17 at 5:34
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In addition to "Reverse Rolling", after reverse roll, keeping the poster between two flat surfaces (top surface heavier in weight recommended) will help maintain the straight posture of the poster.

For example, keeping the poster under mattress where the bottom surface is flat wooden ply or similar as below.

enter image description here

Do comment if it helps.

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