How to do Sublimation on Wood | In 4 Easy Steps

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How to do Sublimation on Wood

Once you fall in love with the sublimation process, you want to try it on everything. More precisely, if you are done with the basics of sublimation, you might look for the next step or try sublimation on wood. The more you do— the more you explore. 

Moreover, if you are interested in learning more deeply, you must try multiple ways to see different results and choose the one that works fine for you. Now the question here is, are you using laminating sheets on wood? Will sublimation work fine on wood surfaces without any coating? There might be too many questions in your mind, and we will try to answer each one of them one by one. 

Let’s explore this process for better understanding. 

Can You Do Sublimation on Wood?

Your first and foremost concern might be can you do sublimation on wood or not?

Well, the answer to this query in one single word is yes. In fact, once you try it, you may explore a whole new world of unique and beautiful products. We will also share the process of sublimation on wood in today’s guide. Just follow the steps mentioned, and you will be good to go for your first-ever sublimation experience on wood.

How To Sublimation on Wood

Sublimation on wood is an amazing and time-saving trick for wooden decor. You can use multiple kinds of wood for experimental purposes, like real wood, MDF sheets, or chipboard, to see variations in the results.

Sublimation allows you to print the design of your choice, like on a sublimation printer, and then transfer the ink into a polyurethane coating. Once you are done with transferring, simply apply the wood’s coating by applying heat and pressure. The result will shock you as it will be a wonderful, vibrant design. 

Material and Equipment Required for this Process

Before moving forward, we would like to share the list of equipment or materials we will use in the process. Here we go:

  • Sublimation Printer
  • Transfer paper (Sublimation Transfer paper)
  • Any Design of your choice
  • Woods
  • Paint – Optional, not compulsory
  • Polycrylic 
  • Foam Brushes
  • Sand Paper
  • Heat Safe Tape
  • Butcher Paper
  • Heat Press

Step #1: Preparation of Wood Blank

If you have decided to paint, then sand and paint it and let the wood dry between coats – you need to apply multiple coats of paint. Once the final coat is done and dry, apply Polycrylic lightly and then sand lightly. After you are done with it—wipe it clean. Allowing it to cure for hours overnight. 

Step #2: Print Your Design of Sublimation Paper

Double-check and size your design to fit your blank’s size. If you have a background pattern, then make sure that the background pattern goes beyond your blank size. Using this way, you will get full coverage. Finalize the design of your choice and print it on sublimation paper. 

Depending on your printer, if it supports HD quality, you can easily use the high-quality plain paper setting in the preferences menu. For all other printers, Go to the more options tab in the printing preference menu, scroll down, choose color correction, and then select Custom and hit the Advanced setting button. 

Select ICM from the menu for the color management setting and hit ok. Now print your design.

Note: The settings may differ from printer to printer, so there is no need to worry. Just follow the basic steps.

No need to worry if you see a light output as the output becomes more vibrant after pressing. Using high print quality settings is recommended to get a better result. 

Step #3: Ready Your Wood Blank for Transfer

Follow these steps for a smooth and accurate transfer.

  • Cut out your design larger than that of your blank size. Suppose you use a 4″ x 4″ blank, then cut the design at about 4.25″ x 4.25″. 
  • Now line up your design paper with blank and use heat-resistant tape to secure it.
  • There is no need to do this in a hurry. Take your sweet time and use additional heat tape if required. Make sure that there are no gaps or wrinkles left. 

Step #4: Heat Press Sublimation on Wood

Before the actual process begins, preheat your press initially to 385°F. Now place a layer of butcher paper under your design and put another on top to absorb any excessive ink. Make sure that it doesn’t transfer the extra ink from this project to our future pressed projects. Now press your blank at medium pressure for one minute. 

Remove the transfer paper when you are done. You’ll see a beautiful design. There is a chance that some transfer paper might get stuck to the wood. Use a sponge and dip it in water and then gently rub off the paper. Usually, it happens when the Polycrylic has not cured overnight. To stay on the safer side, you can add another layer of Polycrylic to seal the design. 

You may notice that your painted blanks do not look as vibrant as the plain wood blanks. If this happens, then sand more aggressively next time. 

Following all these four steps, you can easily do sublimation on wood. The quality of the printer plays an important role, so never underestimate it. 


How do you print sublimation on wood?

Cut the sublimation paper sheet a little bigger than the size of your blank. Place the paper on top of the blank and attach it using heat-resistant tape. Double-check if your heat presser is at 385 F temperature. Place your wood slices on the heat press with your sublimation print sheet on the top. Cover the parchment with a heat press and press for 60 seconds. Now open the parchment and start removing the sublimation sheet carefully. 

What can we spray on wood to sublimate?

It is suggested to use poly natural, a water-based sublimation coating that allows you to print on unfinished wood and a porous stone with an invisible matte finish. PolyNatural disappears into the wood, making your image look like it has been printed directly on the wood.

Can we sublimate on plywood?

Yes, you can sublimate on plywood as well. First, coat the side of the plywood you’ll print on with a lamination film. As the plywood is too thick to go through a laminator, it is suggested to adhere it to the surface using the iron. 

What kind of printers do we need to print on wood?

CS direct jet inkjet printers are mostly used for effective digital wood printing. They allow you to print HD-quality images, text, and logos directly onto wood substrates up to 6 inches in thickness. Print full-color images onto wood signage, plaques, and many more with a direct-to-wood digital printer.

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