Staying Safe with Page Protectors

Page protectors do the mighty job of protecting scrapbooks that will be thumbed through for years and maybe for generations. Protecting the pages of these scrapbooks from the natural oils on hands big and small and from sticky fingers, accidental spills, tearing, dust, and scratches is critical.

Page protectors are the workhorses of scrapbooking. Besides their primary job of protecting your pages, they're also efficient little organizers, and they don't even mind when you cut them up and use them for any task your imagination can conjure up. We put page protectors to work, helping with the preliminary sorting of our photos, memorabilia, and other items when we're still in the process of figuring out what we want where.

Don't work your page protectors too hard. If you overstuff them, they may become distorted, stretched, or damaged.

Here are some handy guidelines to consider when you're shopping for page protectors.

Perusing page protectors: A shopper's guide

Plastic, see-through page protectors are such an integral part of scrapbooking that many manufacturers include them in the purchase prices of their album systems. However, even if you buy an album that comes with page protectors, chances are good that you're going to need more (many more), so you may as well add a few packages of page protectors to your scrapbook shopping list.

Page protectors look like plastic sleeves. You can slip one scrapbook page (finished on both sides) or two back-to-back pages into a page protector. Like the albums, page protectors come in many sizes, from 4 inches x 5 inches to 12 inches x 15 inches and larger. Unlike albums (and adhesives for that matter), page protectors are relatively easy to shop for. The categories are simple and the options are limited to top-loading or side-loading, clear or nonglare, and polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyester (Mylar).

You may or may not want to experiment with some special types of page protectors as you begin your experience with scrapbooking. Remember that you can always come back and check them out later if you think your scrapbooking plate is full enough for now. Here are some ideas and tips worth checking out when choosing your page protectors:

  • Matching your page protector to your album type and size. Page protectors are made to fit into standard post-bound albums, strap-hinge albums, or three-ring binders. Page protectors that are available for bound albums are side-loading only.
  • Top-loading or side-loading? Whether you choose page protectors that load from the top or the kind that load from the side is your call, but the side-loading type might be better at preventing dust and dirt from finding their way into the pages when scrapbooks are stored on shelves.
  • Page-protector finishes. Most people prefer a clear finish over nonglare. But some people like the more subdued, almost cloudy look of the nonglare finishes. Again, the choice is yours.
  • Buy only the safe polys using the following three-Ps categories:

Polyester or Mylar page protectors are top of the line. Mylar, by far, is the best product to use for protecting your photographs, but the cost is high — $10 for three 5-inch-x-7-inch sleeves. Some high-end album systems come with Mylar page protectors. Whenever you buy them, you're looking at investing in Mylar refill protectors, because you'll want a consistent look throughout your scrapbook.

Polypropylene page protectors are used by many experienced scrapbookers. One hundred 5-inch-x-7-inch sleeves cost about $15, and they sell like crazy because they're good quality and well priced at the same time.

Polyethylene page protectors are safe for your photos and other scrapbook contents. At $10 for 100 5-inch-x-7-inch sleeves, they're not expensive at all. These page protectors can be used as temporary homes for scrapbook contents when you're organizing and categorizing your scrapbook materials. And nothing is wrong with using them for your finished albums.

Skip magnetic album page protectors (even when they're labeled "acid-free"). They destroy your photographs. And don't buy page protectors made with vinyl or acetate components because those components can stick to your photos, causing them to fade and change color, thus ruining your scrapbook pages. Even if your photos aren't touching the vinyl, they're still not safe.

Whenever you know that you're going to include thick items in your scrapbooks (like room keys or dog tags), you can pick up a package of embellishment page protectors. They're stiffer than standard sleeves, and many feature protruding pockets that cover your bulkier items. Embellishment sleeves come in 8-1/2-inch-x-11-inch and 12-inch-x-12-inch sizes. They prevent embellishment items from rubbing onto opposite pages and protect the embellishments at the same time. The average cost of one package of 10 12-inch-x-12-inch embellishment page protectors is $7.98.

Putting page protectors on overtime

Although you don't want to put too many items into your page protectors, they're more than willing to work overtime by transforming themselves into additions and extensions that can give you more space for your scrapbook contents within the normal confines of standard-size albums.

Some manufacturers sew extenders onto the main page protector. Others provide adhesive strips so that you can glue the extenders on, and some come with the extenders already attached. Here are some extender types for your page protectors.

Page flippers

Page flippers can be attached anywhere on top of your main page protector with two-way photo-mounting adhesive. They measure 3 inches x 12 inches and can be trimmed to any smaller size.

Panoramic spreads

Page extenders also enable you to design four-page spreads, unfolding to the left and right of two facing pages in your album. Sewn together by the manufacturer, these page protector additions are used by many scrapbookers in place of the two-page spreads that have become so popular in recent years. Page protectors that you use for panoramic spreads are either 8-1/2 inches x 11 inches or 12 inches x 12 inches, depending on the size of your pages.

Peek-a-boo windows

Peek-a-boo windows are little page protectors that open like windows. You adhere them to the big page protector that covers your scrapbook page, so you can add more photos or journaling notes by attaching these little peek-a-boos at different angles onto your regular page protector. Peek-a-boo windows come in 12-inch-x-3-1/2-inch and other sizes (depending on the manufacturer). You can cut them to a size that's appropriate for your design.

Photo flips

Photo flips are good for putting many photographs onto one page within a compact space. These photo-sized page protectors flip over one another. Attach a photo-flip strip directly to an existing full-sized page protector. Most of the photo flips come in 3-1/2-inch-x-5-inch, 4-inch-x-6-inch, and 5-inch-x -7-inch sizes.

Pop-up page protectors

Pop-up page protectors adhere to the inside corners along the spine edges of two facing scrapbook pages. They pop up when you open the two-page spread. The pop-up page protectors measure 5 inches x 8-1/2 inches.

Quikits

Quikits are available in 8-1/2-inch-x-11-inch and 12-inch-x-12-inch sizes. The manufacturer sews little pockets onto the main page protector. In them, you can put embellishments to keep them separate from your photographs or other items you deem necessary to your design. Put a two-sided paper on your main page protector and use a complementary or contrasting paper in the Quikits before adding your photos or embellishments; the result is a beautifully layered page.

Simple page extenders

Simple page extenders attach to your page protector's edges with an adhesive strip, enabling you to extend your pages from the top, bottom, or either side of a standard page protector. Different manufacturers offer differing sizes of these extenders (from 3-inch-x-5-inch to a full 12-inch-x-12-inch size), and they're creating new sizes all the time.

Swing shutters

Swing shutters adhere to the right and left edges of a main page protector. In them, you can place items that coordinate with the rest of your page similar to the way shutters open and close over a window. Swing shutters are the same sizes as regular page protectors (in other words, 8-1/2 inches x 11 inches or 12 inches x 12 inches), but they're split down the middle to provide the shutter effect.

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