3 Types of Dura-Lar and How to Use Them in Your Next Project

By Nicole Tinkham

The most exciting part about being an artist is EXPERIMENTING. It brings such a thrill to discover new products, play around with supplies, learn new techniques, and find new ways of doing things you never thought possible. Because of your curiosity, we do our best to bring information on products you may have little to no previous knowledge about. This week we’re talking about Dura-Lar, an Acetate alternative by Grafix. We will get into the different types of sheets that are available, how to use them, and a few techniques to try. But first, let’s learn a little more about this versatile film.

What is Dura-Lar?

Dura-Lar is a polyester film that’s a mix between Mylar and Acetate. This film comes in a variety of different types (wet media, matte, clear, etc.) which all have specific features but overall, Dura-Lar is heat-resistant, durable (will not tear, absorb color, or discolor), and is acid free and archival. Now let’s take a look at the different types, their qualities, and how YOU can use them.

The wet media Dura-Lar

The wet media Dura-Lar is a .004” sheet coated on both sides to allow for wet media application such as paint, markers and inks.

Use with water-based mediums
Two sided coating
Cuts cleanly


1. Achieve a glow. Once your Dura-Lar painting is complete, lay it over watercolor paper that has a wash of color. This will give your project a different look altogether.

2. Create depth. Use several sheets of Dura-Lar, painting portions of the final piece on each sheet. Assemble and your painting is complete!

3. Lift out color. Use a damp cloth to lift color which will result in lighter tones.

4. Protect your painting. Cover final piece with an acrylic gel medium for added protection.

Matte Dura-Lar

Matte Dura-Lar is a .005” sheet with a matte coating on both sides.

Easily erasable
Can be used with ink
Ideal for lead and colored pencil
Cuts cleanly


1. Add highlights. Simply use an eraser to add highlights to the project.

2. Adhere to other surfaces. Using an acrylic gel medium, you can adhere Dura-Lar to various surfaces for example a wood panel.

3. Combine mediums. Feel free to use a variety of mediums on the matte sheets. Try painting with ink and shading with colored pencil.

4. Add contrast. Try painting the back of your piece for interesting shadows and contrast.

5. Get some texture. Thick coats of acrylic or oil paint can be applied with a brush or palette knife for added texture.

Clear Dura-Lar

Clear Dura-Lar is a .001” to .020” glossy film with amazing strength and stability. This type can be used for overhead transparencies, layouts, and protective covering.

Can be used with permanent inks
Heat resistant
Cuts cleanly


1. Get a 3D look. Draw an outline with a 3D or ink and fill in with paint to achieve a 3D look.

2. Add Mica powder. You can add Mica powder to your paint which will give your project a sparkle.

3. Blend inks together. With various colors on the surface, move and blend them together using an alcohol ink medium soaked cotton pad.

4. Go abstract. Using two sheets of clear Dura-Lar, press paint in between layers for an abstract look.

5. Create a background. Placing colored paper behind a painting, will produce a unique background.

Others to consider

Aside from the types of Dura-Lar mentioned above, here are two additional sheets to keep in mind.

Metallized Dura-Lar: A .002″ or .005″ coated with a thin layer of aluminum giving a mirror-like finish. You can find these in both gold and silver.

Adhesive Backed Dura-Lar: A .002″ or .005″ film with an adhesive backing.

Now that you’re a Dura-Lar EXPERT, it’s time to test them out! As always, we want to know what you thought of this product. Comment in the box below telling us about your experience or head on over to our Facebook page and share a picture of your creation!

5 thoughts on “3 Types of Dura-Lar and How to Use Them in Your Next Project

  1. I tried painting on the Matt Dura-Lar with straight watercolor pigments, and the film remains tacky and mobile. (Comes off on my finger, if touched.) I can’t imagine putting a layer of medium over this. Will the wet media Dura-Lar behave better, or should I use a different medium?

    1. Great question Sally! We actually went to an artist we know who does a lot of work on Dura-Lar for some advice. She said that the surface (both matt and wet media) do remain somewhat tacky. Her primary use for this surface is to do a “test” without painting right on the current painting (usually on paper) . She found that the surface might need a fixative to become permanent. One key advantage is that ability reuse the duralar for the purpose of laying over her current watercolor without “messing it up” if the color does not work. Does this help?

    1. Hi Yvette,

      There are a couple of different kinds. The matte film is for stenciling, drafting, drawing, etc. with an erasable coating on both sides. Dura-lar also had a wet media film that says it will not chip, bead, or run and accepts water-based mediums. This may be a better option but it does not specifically say inkjet.

      Hope this helps! -Keeton’s

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