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How to Flatten Wrinkled Paper

how to flatten wrinkled paper

Don’t you just hate it when you are about to start with your creative project and your paper is wrinkled, crumpled, or rolled? Much worse when you have already painted, printed, or sketched on it, and you wish you could restore it to its pristine condition.

Perhaps, you tried to flatten it with your hand, hoping you can smooth out the surface in no time. Unfortunately, it is not always as easy as that, and you are probably looking for ways on how to flatten wrinkled paper without damaging it.

What should you do, then?

Putting it under a pile of heavy books is just one of the things you can do. The good news is, there are other ways you can try to flatten papers and preserve the beauty of your artwork. In this detailed guide, I will show you different ways on how to flatten watercolor paper, warped paper, and rolled paper.

Watercolor Paper

Watercolor paper is usually thick. That is why folds and creases might be noticeable, especially when you apply watercolor in it as it can seep through the spaces or creases. While placing flat heavy books over the paper could work, it may take some time, and those wrinkles will not go away completely. Here are some steps you can try:

Things You Will Need:

  • A water spray bottle with a very fine mist
  • 2 pieces of cardboard or sheets of white paper
  • Heavy books or flat boards larger than or the same size as your paper
  • A clear flat surface or table for the drying area


  1. Prepare the flat surface. Clear out any clutter and make sure it is clean and dry.
  2. Use the first cardboard and place it on the flat surface.
  3. Place the watercolor paper with the picture or painting facing down the cardboard. This is to prevent any color transfers on the surface and keep the watercolor paper in place. If there is no cardboard available, you may use white paper.
  4. Take the water spray bottle. Hold it for about 6 to 8 inches away from the paper to make sure you cover the whole area.
  5. Lightly spray over the paper. Make sure that you are using a very fine mist and not a projected mist. The goal is to dampen the paper and not soak it in water.
  6. Use the second cardboard and place it over the dampened paper.
  7. Take the heavy books or flat boards or weights and place them on top of the cardboard. Leave it to dry for a couple of hours. Much better if you leave it overnight.
  8. If the paper is not yet completely dry after leaving it for hours, place the cardboard back as well as the heavy books or weights on it. Leave it to dry for a couple of more hours.

Warped or Crumpled Paper

The challenge with regular paper is that it can rip easily when not handled or stored properly. This usually happens on receipts, artwork sketches, or other important documents when you leave them in your drawers folded or slip them into your pockets for a long time. However, due to its delicate quality, regular paper or office paper is prone to wrinkles and noticeable folds.

While pressing them down with heavy books can work, there are two procedures you can try on how to flatten warped paper: pressing and ironing.

Pressing the paper

Things You Will Need:

  • A water spray bottle with a very fine mist
  • Paper towels with smooth surfaces
  • Heavy books or weights


  1. Place the paper on a clean and dry surface.
  2. Take the water spray bottle. Make sure to hold it away from the paper for about 6 to 8 inches. In this way, you will be able to cover all the areas.
  3. Lightly spray on paper. Just a few spritzes will do. Remember that you are dealing with delicate or thin paper, and letting it soak wet will damage the paper even more. If there are any prints or colored inks, flip the paper and spray extremely lightly on the backside.
  4. Slip it inside two paper towels to absorb the water. Make sure you are using smooth paper towels. Textured surfaces or patterns might transfer to the paper surface.
  5. Use heavy books to cover and press the paper flat.
  6. Leave it to dry for a couple of hours or overnight. Check the paper now and then to see if the paper gets soaked. In case this happens, replace the paper towels.


Ironing the paper

Things You Will Need:

  • A hot iron or clothes iron
  • A towel or cloth
  • A flat piece of cardboard or surface


  1. Place the paper on a flat and steady surface. You may use a large piece of cardboard to lay the paper flat and iron it seamlessly.
  2. Make sure that the paper is completely flat. You may smooth out the surface to clear out any wrinkles or creases.
  3. Place the towel or cloth on top of the paper. Some iron the paper directly without using any towel or cloth as long as it is on the lowest heat setting. However, this may damage or tear the paper, especially if it is thin.
  4. Adjust the heat of the iron to the lowest setting. If it is too hot, it may damage the paper, causing it to be brittle or turn yellow.
  5. Gently iron the towel and glide it across the surface to cover all the areas. Do not let it stay too long on one spot as it may transfer too much heat, thus damaging the paper. Iron it like you would when ironing your clothes.
  6. If the wrinkles are still visible, you can spray extremely lightly on the paper. Then, repeat the process with the towel and ironing. Do not spray too much water as it may ruin the prints and lead to ink bleeding and fading.

Rolled Paper

One of the first things you probably do is flip the paper and roll it in the opposite direction. Then, go for a few strokes to smooth out the surface and press the corners down with heavy books. That will do the job sometimes. Honestly, that is what I initially do, particularly when I do not have more time to flatten it completely. It is like a first-aid for rolled papers.

However, uncurling the paper might require other techniques to roll them out completely, especially if these are important documents, posters, or maps. If you want to know how to flatten rolled paper, one way to do it is through humidifying. Take a look at the following steps:

Things You Will Need:

  • A flat and steady surface
  • A plastic container large enough for the size of your paper
  • A small amount of water (about ¼ of the container)
  • A wire rack or smaller container that can fit inside the large container
  • Heavy books, boards, or weights
  • Tissue paper or paper towel


  1. Prepare the large container and fill it up with a small amount of clean water or about ¼ of the container.
  2. Place the wire rack inside the large container. If this is not available, you may use a smaller container that can fit inside the large container. Just make sure that the rolled paper can fit inside the small container.
  3. Put the rolled paper on top of the wire rack or inside the small container. Make sure that the rack is elevated to prevent the rolled paper from getting wet. If you are using a small container, it should be deep enough to keep the rolled paper from getting wet. Cover it with plastic wrap.
  4. Cover the large container with a lid. Seal it tightly.
  5. Leave the container overnight.
  6. Open the large container and take the plastic wrap off the small container.
  7. Check if the paper feels soft and flexible. If it does, put the rolled paper back into the small container. This time, take the plastic wrap off. Allow the air to get inside.
  8. Use the paper towels or tissue paper and place them on the flat surface or table. Take the rolled paper and uncurl or unroll it on top of the tissue or paper towel.
  9. To flatten the paper, place heavy books or boards on top of it, particularly on the edges or corners.
  10. Leave it overnight.


It can be a pain to work with wrinkled watercolor paper or check the details from a crumpled receipt or document as well as from rolled papers. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways you can try, such as the detailed guide mentioned above, to flatten these papers and eliminate any folds or creases, restoring their nice and smooth surfaces.

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