Choosing the Perfect Scrapbook Album

Creating a quality scrapbook album that will last for generations requires more than just time, money, and creativity. There are pages and pages of web content devoted to creating individual scrapbook pages and choosing layout designs; however it is just as important to spend your time, money, and creativity choosing the album that will hold those layouts.

Extend the life of your scrapbook by using archival material. The ideal scrapbook would be constructed with 100% archival materials including a protective cover, a hinge that allows the book to comfortably expand, and a size that is easy to shelve or store. When choosing a scrapbook album, look for these characteristics.

  • Select a scrapbook with a hinge that allows the book to comfortably expand.

    "D" or "O" type three ring, poly post, multi-ring, and strap are all popular bindings that allow for expansion. If you just can't resist an album that does not allow for expansion, consider using only half the pages or avoiding any 3-D elements. A good functioning 3-ring binder can also be used. Check to be sure the rings will not pop open on their own and that they close completely - even a small opening can allow pages to slip out.

Three ring scrapbooks are not expandable, and can hold only as many pages as allowed by the size of the ring. They allow pages to lie flat; however the rings are often visible between the pages when viewing a layout. When purchased at a scrapbook store, they often come with page protectors that bind directly onto the rings. They are the easiest to use as pages can be rearranged or removed readily.scrapbook album

A post bound scrapbook album allows pages to lie flat when opened. They often have page protectors that bind directly to the book with pages that can be removed (either top or side loading). Addtional posts are available for expansion, but most post bound books cannot hold more than 50 2 page layouts without losing some structural integrity. The posts must be taken out in order for pages to be moved or removed.scrapbook album, scrapbook supplies

A strap bound scrapbook album has an expandable strap hinge. They allow pages to lie flat without the binding being seen. Often these books have paper pages that are bound directly into the book and special plastic page protectors must be purchased separately. The straps must be taken apart to move or remove pages.scrapbook album, scrapbook supplies

  • Choose a scrapbook album color and design that fit with the theme of your album.

    White satiny albums work well for wedding albums, consider colorful floral designs for birthday memories, and a rich leather look can be great for a heritage album. Scrapbook albums can be found covered in cloth, leather, or plastic. They come in every color of the rainbow as well as in design patterns. When you choose the album color and design, think anticipation. Your viewer should be excited to see what's going to be found inside before they even open the cover.

  • The size of the album you choose should depend primarily on the amount of pictures you plan to use.

    Albums generally come in three sizes, 12 x 12, 8.5 x 11, and 8 x 8. There are benefits and drawbacks to each. Some feel that a 12 x 12 album is just too big, but it can be great for a baby's first year - when you have an overabundance of pictures. 8.5 x 11 work very well for a summer vacation, but you will only be able to comfortably fit 3 - 5 pictures on a 2 page layout. 8 x 8 albums are unique. They hold only 2 - 3 well cropped photos per layout, but can be perfect for that smaller event. You may not have enough pictures from graduation to fill an entire album, but an 8 x 8 album gives you the size and flexibility you need. Keep in mind that it is often difficult to find paper pre-sized for the 8 x 8 albums, whereas many scrapbook suppliers offer both 12 x 12 and 8.5 x 11 sized papers.

  • All elements of your scrapbook album should be archival and acid-free.

    Look for the words "archival," "acid-free," or "lignin free" on the album and its pages. Pages should be archival, acid-free 80 lb. weight or better. Archival paper which is 80lb. weight or better can be used with page protectors that bind into the book directly as well. This offers much more flexibility and creativity than an album that comes with the pages themselves bound into the book.

  • Plastic page protectors will also help ensure your memories last for generations.

    If you choose to use them, be certain they are purchased from a reputable archival products company. You will find a number of page protectors marked "PVC-free." This does not mean that they are archival. Archival plastics include cellulose triacetat, DuPont Mylar polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene. These pages are often available at photography, scrapbooking, and craft stores.

Caring for Your Album

Stay away from "magnetic" albums. The materials in these pages is not archival and will cause your pictures to fade and yellow at an alarmingly fast rate. It can also be difficult to remove photos from magnetic albums as they often become permanently stuck to the page or covered in the sticky glue.

Always store completed albums in an upright position. If you lay them flat, the 3-D elements can press into other pages and leave indentations, marks, or even scratches.

Below are a few resources for finding quality scrapbook albums:

These two online stores have great selections of scrapbook albums:

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