rolled up maps

Flattening Rolled Paper

rolled up mapsWe often keep large maps and posters rolled up – usually to save space. When you want to look at these or use them it can be difficult to keep them flat. Here is a method that might help.

Humidifying is a process of carefully introducing moisture into paper and then drying it under controlled conditions.
A simple but effective humidifier can be constructed out of two plastic garbage cans. The materials in the humidifier will absorb moisture without ever coming in direct contact with the water.

  • Place the materials to be flattened in a small garbage can.
  • Pour about 3 – 4” of water into a large plastic garbage can and place the small plastic garbage can in the water. Hot water will work a little faster than cold. To increase the speed with which the materials absorb the moisture in the humidifier, moisten two pieces of blotter paper and clip them to each side of the small garbage can. Damp blotters act as a sponge, raising the moisture level inside the container so the paper absorbs the moisture faster.

Remember that the water should NEVER come in direct contact with the materials being flattened.

  • Leave the smaller container uncovered and cover the large container with the lid or a tight fitting plastic bag. Humidifying can take from 1 – 24 hours.


  • When the materials feel damp and limp, they have absorbed enough water to be flattened.
  • Place blotters beneath the material, unroll them with the curl towards the table.
  • Cover with a layer of Mylar.
  • Cover this “sandwich” with glass plates or pieces of board and let dry.

When the materials are not cool to the touch, they are completely dry.