What Is Mylar Paper?

    by Angele Sionna

    About the Author

    Angele Sionna has been a professional journalist since 1995. She's worked as a producer, reporter and writer for national and regional TV, print and online media, including CBS, AOL Travel, Gayot.com and many others. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Science in journalism from Texas Christian University.


    Mylar is a brand name that has come to be commonly used when talking about biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate (BOPET) polyester film, much like people commonly say Kleenex when referring to tissues. Mylar is strong and transparent. It is often used as a coating on paper, giving it a wide range of uses.


    Mylar was invented in 1954. It is the brand name of a polyester film made by DuPont. The name doesn’t actually mean anything. The company “just liked the sound” of it, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. Anything with the name Mylar on it contains the DuPont-made material, as it is trademarked.

    How it's Made

    To make Mylar, super-heated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film is put on a roll and stretched. One side is smooth, but the other is not so that it can be applied more easily as a coating to various products, such as paper.

    Strength and Durability

    The shelf life of Mylar is tremendous. It is expected to last hundreds of years. It is not easily torn or worn out. Because of its strength and durability, Mylar is often used to protect maps and other paper items. It is used as a barrier layer so that people can write on it without damaging the actual map.


    Mylar paper has a variety of uses, including the familiar top layer of a Polaroid photograph as well as the backing of some sandpapers. DuPont says Mylar is used across the world "in the electrical, electronics, magnetic media, industrial specialty, imaging and graphics, and packaging markets." Mylar is also used to help preserve documents and other ephemera like collectible comic books. Because it is moisture-resistant, Mylar is used by the Library of Congress for the preservation of important papers. It also keeps pollutants, oils, acids and temperature changes at bay.

    Fun Fact

    Despite the common misnomer, those shiny metallic balloons you can find at grocery stores and floral shops aren't actually made with Mylar. They're made from metalized nylon.