How to Coat a Screen Frame or Coating Screens?

In this blog post, we will go over the basics of what emulsion coating is and when you should apply it to your screen printing project. We’ll also cover a few tips and tricks that can help you get a more accurate print on your screens.

  1. Fill the scoop coater with the emulsion.
  2. Fill the scoop coater ¾ to the top.
  3. Make sure the scoop coater is level from end to end, or the emulsion may flow out of the ends of each side!
  4. Using a scoop coater, spread a thin layer of paint onto your screen. Using the template as a guide, firmly press into the screen and angle the scoop flat against it. To end your stroke, quickly turn the scoop coater back to its original position by angling it outward.
  5. Turn the screen inside out (where the ink goes) and repeat steps 3 through 4.

If you are using a DUAL DIAZO you will need to mix the Diazo into the emulsion one hour prior to coating screens.

Pour the emulsion into the scoop coater. Fill it ¾ of the way full and then pour out any excess that may be in your container so that when you coat your screen it is not too thick or thin. This makes applying an even layer much easier!

We recommend having a piece of paper on hand while coating your screens in case there is a spillover from either end, this can help catch anything else that might come out during application before going onto your tabletop surface where clean up could spread these chemicals elsewhere!

Holding your scoop coater from its bottom center, make sure it is level so that the emulsion does not run out from either end of your scoop coater. Once you’ve coated both sides of your screen make certain to use a dry paper towel or rag and wipe any excess off.

Pressing firmly into the screen, press against the screen and pull upward towards the top quickly angling back toward the center with each stroke! If this isn’t done in quick succession (within about one second) then it will be difficult to get an accurate print because the image won’t come out even on all parts of your printing surface – essentially resulting in underexposure!

Remember there are no rules here just guidelines for successful coating applications, if you do find yourself doing several coats then it’s best practice to re-rinse your screen with water and a garden hose.

How to Apply the Layer of Emulsion for Screen Printing?

Common mistakes when applying the layer of emulsion:

  • Not using enough water (emulsion will be too thick) – you want your image just barely to dissolve as it runs across surface.
  • Not rinsing screens well after application – You not getting an accurate message on all parts of printing area.
  • Rinsing screens in high pressure setting which can force chemicals out from other areas. 
  • Using old emulsions – Emulsions have about a year shelf life before they become unusable. Don’t use old emulsion! 
  • Leaving screens in water too long.

How to coat a screen with emulsion without a scoop coater?

Use a dry paper towel and wipe off any excess liquid. Press firmly and pull towards the top with each stroke.

If you are applying more than one coat, then it is good practice to rinse your screen with water and a hose.

How to DIY Screen Coating

When it comes to applying emulsion, you need the best scoop coater in order to get the job done right. A scoop coater can be used for two very different purposes when working with photopolymer plates.

Each has its own purpose and both are great tools that will help your printing business excel in efficiency!

The first use is an application of a negative film (emulsion) onto a plate using ultraviolet light.

Apply the Layer of Emulsion

When this happens, there are no rollers or squeegees involved anywhere along with the line-just simple gravity feeding so you don’t have issues like ghosting on press due to backside wetting!

Silk Screen Printing Coating Tool
Dual Edge Aluminum Scoop Coater review
Dual Edge Aluminum Scoop Coater
  • 4-22 inch
  • 14 Inch Recommend for Frame Size: 18" x 20”
  • Plastic end caps

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  • 8-18 inch
  • 1 pc 14"(35CM)
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DELIOU Dual Edge Coater review
DELIOU Dual Edge Coater
  • 6-16 inch
  • The scoop coater should be 2-5 inches shorter than the screen.
  • Aluminum with plastic end

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5 Common Mistakes Beginner Screen Printers Make When First Coating a Screen with Emulsion

Designing for print is one of the most rewarding pastimes of today’s graphic artists. Successfully transferring your creative vision from paper to reality is the mark of a true professional. Many new screen printers are under the misconception that using a silkscreen allows anyone to create quality, professionally printed goods at home.

Although there are less expensive ways to achieve great results, you truly get what you pay for when it comes to printing screens and emulsions. If you’re thinking about dipping your toe into the waters of silk screening as a hobby or as part of an up-and-coming business venture, here are five common mistakes that beginning screen printers often make when coating their own screens with emulsion:

Mistake #1: Choosing the wrong screen mesh.

Screen mesh refers to the material used for the mesh portion of a silkscreen, where light can pass through to make your design transfer onto your substrate. The optimum choice for emulsion is 100% polyester.

3 Yards 1.27 Meters Silk Screen Printing Fabric Mesh Screen Printing Mesh Wide High Tension Mesh Making Ink Supplies 110 Mesh(43T)

Mesh count refers to how many threads there are per inch. Think of this as another way to describe how open or tight the weave is on a certain piece of material, and the tighter it is the finer detail you will be able to achieve with that particular type of screen mesh.

Professional quality screens should have an industrial coating, meaning they should be able to hold up over time when exposed to various types of chemicals during production runs. It’s crucial that you know exactly what kind of screen mesh you are using for your project because the wrong choice can make or break the success of your printing.

Mistake #2: Not purchasing enough emulsion.

Just like it’s important to know what kind of screen mesh you are buying before opening the box, it’s also crucial that you understand how much emulsion is needed for each project.

Some level of trial and error will be involved here, but most silk-screening experts agree that about 2 ounces is necessary per square foot of material used for stenciling projects. For example, if you wanted to print a t-shirt with an 8-inch diameter circle on the front, 3/4 ounce would probably be sufficient (3/4 is one-quarter of 2).

However, if you needed to print a 12 inch square on t-shirt fabric, you’d need 1 3/4 ounce (3/4 is one-quarter of 4). Keep in mind that this is only an estimate though. You won’t actually know how much emulsion is needed until you complete the design process and it’s time to coat your screen with emulsion.

Also, keep in mind that you may need more or less than the recommended amount depending on the project at hand.

Mistake #3: Waiting too long or not long enough between each coat of emulsion.

An important step during silk screening is allowing your freshly coated screens ample time to “cure” before running another project. Top silk screen printing experts recommend waiting at least 6 hours after coating your screen with emulsion before beginning to expose it.

This helps ensure that the emulsion is adequately dried out so it won’t hold water or other fluids when you are trying to transfer light through it during exposure. However, far too often people will either try to save time by exposing screens earlier than recommended, or they wait too long and end up having to re-coat their screen because the emulsion has dried out beyond use.

Mistake #4: Exposing your screens in an area where lighting is less than ideal.

Most home silk screening operations are conducted in basements, garages, shops, etc., but these locations are often plagued by less-than-perfect lighting during the day. Silkscreen exposure is a very precise process, which means that if your environment isn’t properly lit, you may end up with a print that’s too dark or too light.

If you can avoid it, don’t expose silk screens in any area where sunlight isn’t available at some point during the day to help ensure proper exposure time and quality results.

Mistake #5: Not washing out screens carefully enough after exposing them to light.

You certainly don’t want to run your freshly exposed screen through the washer as soon as you are finished exposing it because water tends to interfere with the proper curing of emulsion.

However, there are some risks involved with not washing out your screens carefully, too. If you wait too long to clean off the emulsion or don’t clean it thoroughly enough after exposing it to light, you run the risk of having a screen that won’t hold ink when you need to use it.


Professionals understand these common mistakes and have the experience needed to avoid them altogether. Whether you’re a beginner silk screening newbie or a seasoned pro who has been doing this for years, here is one final piece of advice from all the professionals at Silk Screen Supply: Be patient! Don’t attempt multiple projects before allowing your first project adequate time between coats of emulsion or properly exposing your screen.

Silkscreen printing is a precise process so you want to do it right the first time. Fortunately, this level of precision means achieving excellent results isn’t terribly difficult once you have all of your equipment and understand how to properly prepare your screens. When you are just starting out, take your time and don’t expect perfect results immediately.

You will probably have some failed prints at first or projects that look slightly off before refining your silk screening process over time. If something doesn’t go quite as planned during the first few attempts at silk screening projects, simply try again until you are satisfied with the outcome!

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