Getting your photos from digital to print is not as straightforward as powering up your printer, loading your photos and sending the job to the printer. Printer paper needs to be taken care of from the instant it arrives right through the printing process, and when you’re putting the print in the frame too.
Proper Paper Storage and Use
The print paper should be kept out of direct sunlight, in an area of your home that has consistent room temperature no higher than 23-degrees Celsius, and 50% Relative Humidity. Areas not suited to print paper storage are anywhere with temperature and humidity fluctuations such as close to a door, a high traffic area where there are consistent drafts, or close to a radiator.
When you are handling the paper, wear a pair of protective gloves to avoid any oils from your fingers leaving marks on the print.
Fan the paper before loading the printer and run a fine dust cloth over the surface to ensure its dust-free before printing. This is more important if you are printing on glossy or satin papers as those are prone to showing the slightest imperfections. Not all brands use clean-room environments in the manufacturing process, so regardless of the care you take to prevent dust coming into contact with the paper, it may already be there. That is why you are best to wipe the print surface with a soft cloth first before printing on it.
Where dust particles are not removed before printing, small white dots are likely to appear on the finished print. Given the price of some brands of print paper, you will definitely want to minimise wastage.
Prints need time to thoroughly dry as they are only dry to the touch once printed. It takes roughly 24-hours for prints to cure and dry thoroughly. During the curing process, ink goes through an outgassing process. Framing before your ink has cured will leave a residue on your frames glazing. It is best to let your frame sit in a dust-free environment at room temperature for a minimum of 24-hours before framing.
During the ink curing process, you can use a plain (unprinted) sheet of copy paper to lay over your print. This will absorb the gases escaping and also protect the print from minuscule dust particles. As the paper will be in direct contact with the print, it needs to be acid-free to avoid any pigment discolouration.
Stacking Multiple Prints
If you are printing and framing multiple photographs, you are likely to be limited on space and need to stack your photographs. If you do, plain acid-free paper can be inserted between prints to stack them.
Storage Before Framing
While the ink is curing, the prints are best stored away from direct sunlight to avoid fading. Relative humidity and room temperature are two important factors to consider as before your prints are in the frame; those are the two most significant factors likely to deteriorate the print quality.
Room temperature is best maintained at around 23-degrees Celsius with a Relative Humidity of 50%
Handling Prints for Framing
To keep your print free from imperfections, wear a pair of gloves as oils from your fingers can leave marks on the paper. Two types of gloves suitable for handling photo paper are lint-free cotton gloves and nitrile gloves.
With the right precautions taken with all-in-one home printers, it is possible to produce great prints at home ready for framing. If you find yourself consistently finding imperfections in your print quality, consider using a print and frame service to have quality prints printed and framed professionally then delivered to you ready to put on display.