What You Should Know About Engineer Prints


“Engineer Prints” are no secret.  They are all over the blog-o-sphere.  You’ve seen these trendy pins on Pinterest before:


Click for source


Click for source

But how do they really work?  Glad you asked.  Here’s the skinny on the big pictures.  For those of you who haven’t heard of engineer prints, they are HUGE prints for extra cheap.  They only come in black and white, and on thin thin paper.  I bought ours at Staples.  The 24″ by 36″ print was $3.29.  Here’s a breakdown of their sizes and prices:

18″ by 24″ $1.69
24″ by 36″ $3. 29
30″ by 42″ $4.79
36″ by 48″ $6.59  

Me, Kami, & Sara decided this would be our “woman craft” while the husbands were having “man craft night.” (You’re going to love that post.  It involves an epic DIY disaster, power tools, grumpy men, and several broken scroll saw blades.)  We decided to test how well engineer prints worked with pictures of the puppies.  Here are the images we took to get printed.  Fern’s picture (on the left) was taken with an iPad, and Indy’s picture was a scan of a picture.

images for engineer prints

I took the images to the printing counter at Staples on a flash drive and handed it to the nice lady.   I didn’t want to go any bigger than 24″ by 36″  because of the quality of the images.  I didn’t know how pixelated they would translate.  While I was at Staples I picked up a can of Spray Adhesive glue.

Here is how the images looked printed:


Fern’s picture was slightly pixelated, but only if you put your face right up to it.


Once you have your print, you can do whatever you want with it.  Some people put it in a frame.  Framing it would probably be the easiest idea, but frames that size can get pricey.  We decided to put our prints on a board.  We bipped on over to Lowe’s to pick up a sheet of particle board.  The sheet was $12 and they were able to cut 4 24″ by 36″ slices out of it.  So, $3 for each piece: lots cheaper than a frame.

We painted the edges black.  Since Indy’s picture was so dark, I just stuck with the edges.  Fern’s picture had a lot of white in the background, and the print paper is THIN, so to avoid unevenness Sara painted the whole thing black.



This part is where I’m a bad blogger.  I didn’t take pictures of the actual adhering processes.  Hopefully my words can paint a clear enough picture of how I tackled this beast puppy.  We sprayed an all over coat of adhesive on the board.  (Make sure you have a drop cloth, or do it outside.  Our floor felt like it had an invisible layer of syrup.  My own personal hell will have sticky floors.)  Then Sara held one side up in the air, while I lined up the top corners of the print to the top of the board.  I pressed the corners down, and started smoothing it out with the edge of a cutting board.  A rolling pin also would have worked.  She would gently let part of the print down, and I would continue smoothing it out, making sure there were no air bubbles.  What happened though is the cutting board was smearing some of the black ink.  AH!  So I put a paper towel on the edge of the cutting board to help stop the smearage.  I put a new paper towel on every couple of seconds.  That worked just fine.  We did NOT do this with Sara’s print of Fern, and it dried with air bubbles.  🙁  Indy’s dried just fine.


Obviously we aren’t keeping Indy on the mantle for real… just testing out the display.  Our front room is SO PATHETIC at the moment.


It’s like you can see the tears our fireplace cries everyday. “I’m ugly, and no one likes me…waaaaah.”


Now that I have done a trial engineer print, I’m thinking I want to do a gallery wall of over-sized photos here:


(That bubblegum light fixture is heinous though.  Barf x 10.  Bleck!)

So, that’s my real life experience with engineer prints.  Does it seem easy enough for you to try?

!!!UPDATE!!!  I tried another Engineer Print, and used a rolling pin.  NO SMEARING, NO BUBBLING!  Win 🙂

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  • Kelli Y.

    I love these! So glad to find a doable tutorial on engineer prints. I didn’t know what they were, only that I wanted some. Can they make prints from a photo or does it have to be on a flash drive?

    • Hi Kelli,
      I just called Staples to ask 🙂 They CAN do it, but they don’t recommend it. They said it’s better to use a digital image vs the actual photo, because when you blow it up the quality will significantly go down if it’s a copy of a small photo. They said you can bring in the digital photo on a CD or USB drive. I hope this helps!

      • Nicole

        AND I just ordered mine through the website…if that helps?

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  • sitkagreen

    I’ve been reading all about these and I have a couple questions. Do you bring the picture in colour or edit it to b&w before bringing it in? is there resolution minimum for this to work well? and it is possible that the photo will become stretched trying to fit it to one of the sizes? thanks!

    • Hi Sitkagreen 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. I edited mine to b&w, BUT you don’t have to. You can take your color image to Staples just fine. They didn’t tell me what the resolution min is. Like I said in the post, one picture was from an old iPad, and the pixilation was barely noticible. And they can crop the picture so it doesn’t end up stretched. Good luck with your print! Email me pictures when you’re done! interiorsbykenz (at) gmail (dot) com 🙂

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  • Brianna Walpole

    This is so cool! Mine turned out better than I expected. Do you know if spraying some type of gloss over the finished product would be ok? If so what could I use so it wouldn’t wrinkle the paper?

    • Kenz

      You know, I’m not really sure! At one point in time I thought about mod-podging over the whole thing, but then I was worried about it smearing the ink. What I’ve done with Engineer Prints since this post, is just buy frames. It is a little more money, but it is easier, and looks nice.

      • Brianna Walpole

        Ok I think that’s a good idea. I might try a gloss spray. If I do I will let you know how it goes. If it is a flop then I’m out a whole whopping $4.10 😉

        • Kenz

          Good luck! I’m interested to see how it turns out 🙂

      • Nicole

        From what I’ve read, not by experience, is that the modpodge smears the ink and wrinkles and tears the engineer print.

  • Bethany @ The Sepia Puppy

    I so wanna do this! I’m gonna start looking through my photo albums on the computer right now!!

    • Kenz

      You should! They are cheap and easy!

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  • Mali


    Just a quick one. Will the picture get distorted after being blown up to that size?

    • Kenz

      It depends on the quality of your image. If it is a high resolution file, then you should be just fine. The picture of the black dog was with an iPad, and it was only slightly pixilated.

  • Carrington

    Great post – what actually made me comment is your hilarity when addressing your “bubble gum” light fixture. Heinous and bleck x10 in the same sentence is inspired…

    • Kenz

      lol Thanks Carrington! Stick around… it only gets worse 🙂

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  • kathi p

    Staples website says that engineering prints are not suitable for photo images. Does it depend on the location as to whether they will print them?

    • Kenz

      It’s probably not the most ideal way to print a photo, but you can’t beat the price. I don’t think it depends on the location. As long as you bring the file in, they will print whatever you want 🙂

  • CKel

    Do you know any other places that do these types of prints? Office Depot maybe? I don’t have a staples near me. Thank you!

  • Tracie

    This is still the most helpful tutorial on the subject! And you, of course, still rock.

    • kenz

      Thanks friend. I miss you.

  • Stephanie

    DO NOT REQUEST THIS! It breaks the machines, as they are made to print blueprints, not images.

    • I would imagine that if this were the case the folks as Staples would just say no when it was requested…

    • kenz

      I’ve never had them not print an image. I would assume that they would say no if it broke their machine. But it’s good to keep in mind.

  • lara

    How does it hold up to moisture in the air?

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  • Looks great! Just another idea, you could avoid the adhesive spray by essentially clamping the print between a plexy glass cover and a backing of mdf board. (Lowes will cut both to size in store for free). A diy frame that might be a cheaper option for huge prints.

  • Birgit Maloney

    Your prints look so perfect, I have tried this several times with some photos I took of my sons. I tried the engineer prints as well as black and white poster prints and every time they came out really stripy! Do you know how to avoid these vertical white stripes on black ink? Could it be just a poor quality of printers/ ink at my local printing shop? Or could I adjust the photos to minimize the black areas? Has anyone else ever faced this problem?