How to Sublimate on Wood – Sublimation Printing on Wood

As we all know that sublimation industry is growing day by day. There are multiple products for sublimation printing. Sublimation printing is very interesting and unique process to print on different materials like fabric, nylon etc.. Here someone can ask, can you sublimation on wood? The simple answer is yes you can perform sublimation printing on wood. If you are beginners and want to learn about sublimation printing then this article is for you. We will discuss how to sublimate on wood.

how to sublimate on wood

To put it simply, it is a lengthy yet fairly simple sublimation process that you can use to decorate your houses as per your tastes and preferences. Don’t be daunted by the word ‘lengthy’ just yet because, if performed in a series of continuous steps. Sublimate onto wood process is not very time-consuming. Now, without any further delays, let’s get straight down to business!

How to Sublimate On Wood – Sublimation on wood

Types of Wood that can be Sublimated

There are multiple types of sublimation wood on which we can perform sublimation. Every wood has its own color, grains and characteristics and it shows affects while printing. Some of the popular woods are,

  • Pine
  • Cherry
  • Maple
  • Mahogany
  • Oak

What Is Sublimation?

If you are still new to this form of art, allow me to give you all a brief introduction to what really is sublimation. It is a computerized printing technique through which you can print various surfaces other than paper. You must have seen printed mugs and different wooden ornaments printed with customized images. All these objects are a result of the sublimation process.

Set the Wood for Sublimation

For sublimation on wood, first we have to set the wood for sublimation. For this purpose sand down the wood surface. In this way it will clean the wood surface and remove all dust from it. After sanded the wood use a cloth to wipe it.

After that apply primer layer on the wood. It will help the ink to stick on the wood to get the best result. Now let the primer for dry, after that you can sublimating on wood.

The Process of Sublimation on Wood – Wood Sublimation

Following is the step by step guide how to sublimate on wood.

  • Step # 01: First of all, you need to decide which image you want to sublimate on your wooden plaque. It could be anything ranging from motivational quotes to artistic logos. Design your own or search on internet to find your favorite image and download it.
  • Step # 02: Once you have the image you want to sublimate on the wooden plaque, you will have to connect that device to your sublimation printer. Another very critical point to bear in mind is that you must use correct inks for this process. You shouldn’t face many difficulties finding sublimation ink cartridges from your nearby stores. It is important because if you use any other ink, you will have to face serious compatibility issues.
  • Step # 03: When the devices are properly connected and running, you can move on to editing the image to adjust the size and contrasts as per your liking. When satisfied, feed sublimation pages into the paper tray of the sublimation printer and hit print.
  • Step # 04: Now, arrange for appropriately sized wooden plaques and ensure that they are coated with Polymer Resin. This chemical coating is necessary because otherwise, the sublimation ink will not stick to the wooden surface.
  • Step # 05: Place the printed sublimation paper facing down on the wooden plaques and adjust the position. Once satisfactorily placed, secure the paper with heat-resistant tape. You might want to skip this step but I suggest you don’t because it will help keep the paper correctly positioned when you put it inside the heat press machine.
  • Step # 06: Finally, put the plaque inside the heat press machine and set the temperature for sublimation on wood 375°F to 400° for 60 seconds. When the timer runs out, take out the plague and let it cool down for a couple of minutes otherwise, you may end up burning your hand off.
  • Step # 07: When the plaque cools down, slowly and gently peel off the sublimation paper to reveal a beautiful outcome of all your efforts.

Sublimation on Wood without Any Coating

We can sublimate onto wood without any coating on it. But this approach is not good. We do not recommend this approach. In this situation we can not get the desire result. Sometime the resulting image color is fade it does not meet our requirements. But this approach is helpful if we are working for only one color graphics and we do not require any detail color details.

Tips for Selecting the Wood for Sublimation

There are few things which should be keep in mind while choosing the wood for sublimation. First check the grains of the wood. Coarser grains are good for sublimation as the absorb more ink and shows a darker print.
On the other hand, if the wood is soft and grains are fine then it is best for lighter print.

Second thing which is consider for sublimation is to check the density of the wood. If a wood have heavy then it can absorb more heat and it is best for darker print.
If wood have light it can’t absorb heat properly so it is good for lighter print.

For sublimation printing you don’t ignore the wood surface. For detailed prints smooth wood is better.
If the wood is rough then it is better for rustic prints.

Tips to Sublimation on Wood

Sublimation print on wood involves transferring a design or image onto a wooden surface using a heat press and sublimation inks. Here are some tips to help you achieve good results:

  • Tip 1: Choose the right wood: Use smooth, flat, clean and free from any dirt, dust, or oils wood surfaces with a light colored. Hardwoods like birch, maple, or cherry work well for sublimation. Avoid using wood with a rough texture or a dark stain, as it may affect the image transfer quality.
  • Tip 2: Coating the wood: To enhance the sublimation transfer, you can apply a specialized coating designed for sublimation on wood. This coating helps the inks adhere better and produces vibrant colors.
  • Tip 3: Design and printing: Create or select your design using graphic design software. Make sure the design is sized correctly to fit the wood surface. Before printing, it is important to flip the image horizontally because sublimation transfers the design in reverse. Use sublimation printer to print the design onto sublimation paper.
  • Tip 4: Heat press machine: Adjust your heat press machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure the heat press is at the correct temperature and pressure for sublimation on wood. Typically, temperatures range from 375°F to 400°F (190°C to 205°C) and require medium to high pressure.
  • Tip 5: Cooling and removal: After the transfer time is complete, carefully remove the wood from the heat press and allow it to cool down. Avoid touching the transferred image immediately, as it may still be hot and easily damaged. When it will become cool then you can remove the sublimation paper.

To achieve best optimal results, it is suggested to adhere to the instructions provided by the manufacturers of your equipment and materials.


Can you sublimate on wood?

If you are wondering whether you can sublimate all those extra pieces of wood lying around in your garage, then the answer is yes you can do it. However, there is just a small detail that you need to keep in mind. The wood must have a Polymer coating for the sublimation ink to stick to it effectively. Otherwise, you will just end up wasting your time and efforts. So, before you get started, make sure that the wood surface you are about to sublimate has a polymer coating.

Can you use a heat press on wood?

Yes, you can definitely use a heat press on the wood directly without the fear of damaging the surface. For flat wooden tiles, you have no need to worry and put them inside the heat press machine to get ideal results. However, wooden ornaments would not be that easy to sublimate but not entirely impossible. You will just have to change tactics and use a different kind of heat transfer machine instead of using a flat heat transfer machine.

How do you do sublimation on wood?

Wood sublimation is really a quite simple and interesting process. You just have to get your hands on the essential materials. That is absolutely necessary for this project such as sublimation inks, sublimation printer, heat transfer machine, and wooden plaques. To begin the process, first, print the design on paper using sublimation inks and a printer. Then tape this paper face down on the wooden plaque and put it in the heat press machine for ten to fifteen minutes. After that, take it out and let it cool down before peeling off the sublimation paper.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I would like to say that I have tried my very best to explain how to sublimate on wood in the easiest way possible. I suggest that you all read the procedure once again carefully before getting started yourself. This little maneuver will help you avoid any mistakes that might lead to a giant loss of money and effort on your part. With that being said, there is nothing left to say than to bid you all the very best!

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