How to sublimate on wood? A complete guide for beginners

Navigating the world of sublimation on wood can be puzzling, even for seasoned crafters. Sublimation printing on wood allows you to create unique and personalized wooden items but requires a specific technique.

This article: How to sublimate on wood? will guide you through various methods, supplies needed, and step-by-step procedures to simplify the process of sublimating on wood. Dive in; let’s unravel this intriguing artistry together!

Can you sublimate on wood?

Yes, you can sublimate on wood or other materials. However, to do sublimation on wood, you need to use wood that has polymer coating that allows to grasp sublimation ink effectively.

sublimate on wood

4 Methods of sublimation on wood

There are several methods for sublimating on wood, including using thermal lamination pouches, applying a polycrylic treatment, using a sanding sealer, or working with no coating.

1. Thermal lamination pouch

Delving into the fascinating world of sublimation on wood, let’s explore one popular method: using a thermal lamination pouch. Perfect for those seeking a smooth and glossy finish, this technique involves covering your chosen piece of wood with a thermal laminating sheet before sublimation printing.

Think of it as creating a “paper sandwich” – your design on sublimation paper is placed in between the wood surface and laminate. Using your trusty heat press set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, apply pressure evenly for 60 seconds and voila! After removing the laminating pouch, you’re left with an incredible motif imprinting vividly onto the wood surface.

Now that we’ve had our ‘aha’ moment about thermal lamination pouches’ role in wood sublimation art projects, we can appreciate its potential in ushering crisp designs onto wooden surfaces.

2. Polycrylic treatment

In the world of wood sublimation techniques, polycrylic treatment holds a special place. It’s an effective way to prepare the surface of your wooden pieces for sublimation, making it more receptive to the inks used in this unique process.

Polycrylic is a water-based protective coat that keeps your design crisp and vibrant while also serving as a robust barrier against wear and tear.

Sublimating on wooden surfaces with polycrylic starts by applying a thin layer of this sealant over the area you wish to print on. This makes sure that your printed designs aren’t absorbed into the material but rather adhere smoothly onto its surface, preserving intricate details.

Notably, using polycrylic temperature can be handy when undertaking these projects since it allows for specific control over how deep the ink penetrates into your blank piece of wood. Whether you’re working on ordinary substrates or specialized ones like wood slices or wooden plaques for sublimation projects, polycrylic treatment sets you up perfectly!

To sum it up, successful implementation of such strategy facilitates great results in strength and longevity without compromising aesthetics.

3. Sanding sealer

Investing time in proper surface preparation can enhance the final result of your wood sublimation process. Sanding Sealer is an important tool in this process. This product, typically used before applying a finish to wood, fills and seals the pores to create a smoother surface that significantly improves the adhesion of sublimation prints onto wooden surfaces.

By applying a layer of Sanding Sealer not only do you make your substrate more receptive for heat press transfer but also reduce imperfections such as annoying grains or knots that could distort your sublimated design on wood slices or blanks.

It’s essential to note that after application, allowing it ample drying time ensures optimal results with your custom Wood Sublimation Art projects.

4. No Coating

No coating refers to the process of sublimating on wood without applying any additional coatings or treatments. This method is suitable for certain types of wood that already have a smooth and porous surface, allowing the ink to penetrate and bond directly with the fibers.

Uncoated wood blanks can be used for sublimation, but it may require alternative methods such as longer pressing times or higher heat settings to achieve vibrant colors and sharp details. It’s important to note that while this approach eliminates the need for a polyester coating, some experimentation and testing may be required to optimize the results based on different wood varieties.

With proper preparation and adjustments, sublimating on uncoated wood can produce stunning and unique designs that showcase the natural beauty of the material.

Supplies needed for sublimation on wood

To successfully sublimate on wood, you will need essential supplies like sublimation paper, a sublimation printer, heat resistant tape, a heat press, protective paper, and a sanding block. Interested to learn more? Let’s dive in!

1. Sublimation paper

To achieve stunning sublimation prints on wood, it’s crucial to use the right type of sublimation paper. This specialized paper is designed with a unique coating that allows the ink to bond with the wood surface during the heat transfer process.

By using sublimation paper specifically made for wood, you can ensure vibrant colors and sharp details in your final design.

When selecting sublimation paper for wood projects, look for options that are compatible with your sublimation printer and have a high-opacity coating. This will prevent any bleeding or smudging of the ink onto the wood surface, resulting in a clean and professional finish.

Remember to follow manufacturer instructions for printing settings and drying times to optimize your results.

2. Sublimation printer

To achieve high-quality sublimation on wood, having the right printer is essential. A sublimation printer uses special ink that turns into a gas when heated, allowing it to penetrate the surface of the wood and create vibrant, long-lasting designs.

These printers are designed specifically for sublimation printing and can produce detailed images with excellent color saturation. With a sublimation printer in your arsenal, you can easily transfer your creative ideas onto wooden surfaces and create stunning customized products.

Make sure to choose a reliable sublimation printer that supports various print sizes and has user-friendly features for seamless printing experiences.

3. Heat resistant tape

Heat resistant tape is a crucial tool when it comes to sublimation on wood. This specialized tape ensures that your sublimation design stays in place during the heat press transfer process, preventing any unwanted movement or shifting.

By securely taping down the edges of your sublimation paper onto the wood surface, you can ensure that your design will be accurately transferred without any smudging or blurring. The heat resistant properties of this tape allow it to withstand high temperatures without melting or leaving residue behind.

So whether you’re working with wooden plaques, slices, or other surfaces, using heat resistant tape is essential for achieving crisp and professional-looking sublimated designs.

4. Heat press

A heat press is an essential tool for sublimation on wood. This device uses heat and pressure to transfer the design from the sublimation paper onto the wood surface. It ensures that the ink vaporizes and permanently bonds with the polyester coating, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting prints.

The recommended temperature for sublimating on wood with a heat press is 400 degrees Fahrenheit, while pressing it for about 60 seconds ensures optimal results. With a reliable heat press, sublimation makers can bring their designs to life on wooden surfaces with ease and professional-quality outcomes.

5. Protective paper

Protective paper is an essential element when sublimating on wood. It acts as a barrier between the sublimation design and the heat press, preventing any ink from transferring onto the machine’s platen.

This not only protects your equipment but also ensures that your design comes out crisp and clean without any smudging or unwanted marks.

During the sublimation process, the protective paper should be placed on top of your wood blank before applying pressure with the heat press. This creates a “paper sandwich” where the ink vapor can easily penetrate and transfer onto the wood surface while being contained within the protective paper.

Using protective paper also helps to prevent any residual ink from transferring onto subsequent blanks, ensuring each product remains pristine and free from unintentional color bleed-through.

6. Sanding llock

To achieve a smooth and flawless finish on your sublimated wood project, using a sanding block is crucial. This tool helps in preparing the wood surface by removing any imperfections or rough spots that could interfere with the sublimation process.

By gently sanding the wood, you create a clean canvas for transferring your design onto. Additionally, using a sanding block allows for better ink absorption into the wood fibers, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting colors.

Remember to always use fine-grit sandpaper and apply light pressure to avoid damaging the wood surface. Incorporating this step into your sublimation process will ensure professional-looking results that truly stand out.

How to sublimate on wood?

To sublimate on wood, start by preparing the wood surface and printing your desired design on sublimation paper.

Step 1: Preparing the wood surface

To ensure a successful sublimation on wood project, proper preparation of the wood surface is essential. Start by sanding the wood with a sanding block to create a smooth and even surface. This will help the sublimation ink adhere better to the wood and prevent any unwanted imperfections in your final design.

After sanding, remove any dust or debris using a clean cloth or compressed air. Next, apply a polyester coating to the wood blank. This step is crucial as it creates a barrier between the sublimation ink and the wood itself, allowing for vibrant and long-lasting designs.

Once applied, allow the coating to dry completely before proceeding with the sublimation process. Remember, taking the time to properly prepare your wood surface will greatly enhance your sublimated creations and ensure professional-looking results every time.

Step 2: Printing on sublimation paper

To achieve vibrant and high-quality sublimation prints on wood, it’s essential to understand the process of printing on sublimation paper. Sublimation paper is specially coated to absorb ink and release it when heat is applied.

This allows the design to transfer onto the wood surface seamlessly.

When printing on sublimation paper for wood projects, make sure you use a dye-sublimation printer with sublimation inks. These specialized inks are designed to turn into gas when heated, allowing them to bond with the polyester coating on the wood.

It’s important to note that sublimation works best on white or light-colored surfaces, so consider using a lighter-toned wood blank for optimal results. Additionally, remember that during printing, mirror your design horizontally as it will appear flipped once transferred onto the wood.

Step 3: Applying the sublimation design

To apply the sublimation design onto wood, you need to follow a few simple steps. First, make sure you have prepared the wood surface by sanding it smooth and removing any dirt or debris. Next, print your sublimation design onto sublimation paper using a sublimation printer.

Once printed, carefully place the design face-down on the wood surface and secure it in place with heat-resistant tape. Now comes the exciting part – using a heat press set at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 60 seconds, apply even pressure to transfer the design onto the wood.

Finally, remove the sublimation paper to reveal your vibrant, permanent design on the wood surface. It’s that easy! Experiment with different types of coated and uncoated woods to create stunning pieces of personalized art or unique products for your business.

Step 4: Using a heat press to transfer the design

To transfer the sublimation design onto wood, a heat press is essential. The heat press applies both heat and pressure to ensure a successful transfer. This step is crucial for achieving vibrant and long-lasting results on your wooden substrate.

Set the heat press at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pressing time of about 60 seconds, but always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific settings. The high temperature allows the sublimation ink to transform into a gas state, permeating the polyester coating or porous surface of the wood.

This process ensures that your design becomes part of the wood rather than sitting on top of it. After removing the sublimation paper, you’ll be amazed by how your design comes to life on the wooden surface, creating stunning personalized products that will impress any customer or recipient.

Tips for successful sublimation on wood

Choose the right wood surface, adjust your heat press settings, ensure even pressure, and protect your design to achieve stunning sublimation results on wood. Find out more about these essential tips for successful sublimation on wood by clicking here.

1. Choosing the right wood surface

When it comes to sublimation on wood, choosing the right wood surface is crucial for achieving the best results. Opting for a smooth and even wooden surface will ensure that your sublimated design transfers seamlessly onto the wood.

Plywood or MDF boards are often ideal choices due to their smoothness and stability. However, keep in mind that different types of wood can yield unique effects, so don’t be afraid to experiment with various options.

In addition, selecting a lighter-colored wood surface will allow your sublimation design to stand out more vibrantly. The colors will pop beautifully against a light background, creating eye-catching pieces of art or personalized items.

Proper Heat Press Settings

To achieve successful sublimation on wood, it is crucial to set the heat press at the right temperature and time. The recommended settings for sublimating on wood are 400 degrees Fahrenheit with a pressing time of 60 seconds.

This combination ensures that the ink from the sublimation paper transfers onto the wood surface effectively, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting designs. Keeping a consistent pressure throughout the pressing process is also important, as it helps to ensure an even transfer of ink onto the wood.

By following these proper heat press settings, sublimation makers can create stunning and professional-looking designs on their wooden projects.

2. Ensuring even pressure

To achieve perfect sublimation results on wood, it is crucial to ensure even pressure during the heat press process. Uneven pressure can lead to a patchy or distorted design outcome. To avoid this, make sure that your wood substrate is securely positioned between the heat platen and the bottom platen of the press.

This will create uniform contact throughout the entire surface of your sublimation project.

Even distribution of pressure guarantees that the sublimation ink transfers uniformly onto the wood, resulting in vibrant colors and sharp details. Pay attention to any uneven areas or protrusions on your wooden blank as they could affect pressure distribution.

Using a heat-resistant tape or clamp may help secure any loose parts during pressing.

3. Protecting the design

To ensure the longevity and durability of your sublimation design on wood, it’s important to take steps to protect it. One way to do this is by applying a clear coating over the design. This protective layer helps safeguard against scratches, fading, and general wear and tear.

You can use various options like polycrylic treatment or sanding sealer for added protection. Additionally, proper handling and care can also go a long way in preserving your sublimated wood creations.

So make sure to educate your customers on how to clean and maintain their finished products properly for optimal results.


1. What is sublimation printing on wood?

Sublimation printing on wood is a process where heat and pressure are applied to transfer dye onto the surface of wood, creating vibrant and long-lasting designs.

2. Can any type of wood be used for sublimation printing?

Not all types of wood are suitable for sublimation printing. Woods with a smooth, flat surface and minimal grain pattern such as maple or birch tend to produce the best results.

3. Is sublimating on wood durable?

Yes, sublimating on wood produces durable prints that are resistant to fading, scratching, and peeling when properly cared for. However, it’s important to note that direct exposure to sunlight or excessive moisture can still affect the longevity of the print.

4. What products can be created using sublimation printing on wood?

Sublimation printing on wood can be used to create a wide range of products including signs, plaques, photo frames, coasters, cutting boards, and custom artwork. The versatility allows for unique personalized items or branded promotional materials.


In conclusion, sublimating on wood offers a unique way to create stunning and personalized products. With the right supplies and techniques, you can transform plain wooden surfaces into works of art.

Whether it’s using thermal laminating pouches or applying a polycrylic treatment, the possibilities are endless. So unleash your creativity and start sublimating on wood today!

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