Progress in ultrafast terahertz (THz) communications has been limited due to the lack of picosecond switchable modulators with sufficient modulation depth. Gallium arsenide nanowires are ideal candidates for THz modulators as they absorb THz radiation, only when photoexcited – giving the potential for picosecend speed switching and high modulation depth. By embedding the nanowires in a polymer matrix and laminating together several nanowire–polymer films, we increase the areal density of nanowires, resulting in greater modulation of THz radiation. In this paper, we compare PDMS and Parylene C polymers for nanowire encapsulation and show that a high modulation depth is possible using Parylene C due to its thinness and its ability to be laminated. We characterize the modulator behavior and switching speed using optical pump–THz probe spectroscopy, and demonstrate a parylene–nanowire THz modulator with 13.5% modulation depth and 1ps switching speed.