How to Sublimate on Wood?

Last Updated on April 1, 2022 by Andrew Chapman

Sublimation is actually a process that is used for printing your desired design with vibrant colors onto the blank surface. Many kinds of alloys and materials are used for sublimation, and sublimating on wood is one of them. Sublimation printing uses heat to pledge ink and material altogether, and we all know it has been increasing regularly. Because it’s fast and easier to transmit your design on the wood surface with less effort than other sublimation methods.

how to sublimate on wood

People usually ask can you sublimate on wood? And the answer is absolutely yes but one thing I would like to tell all of you is that the wood should have a polymer coating to absorb the sublimation link more proficiently. Further, you need to keep in mind that the wood you are going to use, should be thin enough and fit your heat press as well. Before coming onto the guide of sublimate on wood, some of the compulsory materials must have before printing the design on wood.

How to Sublimate on Wood

Before starting this project, make sure you have printed the design through a sublimation printer that wants to print on the wood. If you haven’t done this yet, print the design first and start your project to give an aesthetic look to the wood. And you need the below-given materials for sublimation printing on wood.

  • Sublimation printer
  • Sublimation paper
  • Sublimation ink
  • Wood Pieces (As I am using pieces of wood)                                                      
  • Thermal laminating pouches
  • Desired design
  • Heat press
  • Sandpaper
  • Heat resistant tape
  • Polyacrylic layer
  • Sanding sealer

Methods to Sublimate on Wood

There are different methods to sublimate on wood with different techniques and uncoated wood as well. You can sublimate on wood by following all the methods and their different approaches with ease but the quality and the project cost would be different. But the first one is the quickest, easiest, and the highly efficient method to get the wanted results.

Related: How to Sublimate on Cotton

1. Thermal Laminating Wood for Sublimation

Step1 – Customizing wood and thermal laminating pouches

First of all, the important part of this project is the object on which you wanna print your designs through a heat press. So, make sure you have the accurately sized and thin enough wood pieces are ready. After getting the accurate pieces of wood, you will need to purchase thermal laminating pouches to place on the bottom of your heat press.

ptep 2 – Optimizing laminating sheet and setting heat press

Cut the laminating pouches through sandpaper into two pieces and cut them wisely as they should be exceeded from both sides of the heat press. All the wooden pieces are covered properly by parchment pieces and pressed easily. Now it’s time to place your laminating sheet on the underside platen of press and set your heat press at 385 F or 195 C temperature and leave it for 70 seconds.

Step 3 – Wooden pieces are pressed and removing extra sheet

Place the thermal laminating paper on the wooden pieces and the sheet must be exceeded than your wood pieces. Now again use laminating paper and cover the wooden pieces to press it for 70 seconds. You will see, the laminating sheet will be stuck to the wooden pieces and you just need to cut the sheet through a sand block which excess the edges and make the smooth while cutting all the extra sheets.

Step 4 – Printing design through sublimation printer

It’s time to print your design through a sublimation printer that you want to print on wooden pieces through a heat press. I have rounded sets of business designs have printed through the best sublimation printer as it made it very easy to print this design easily.

Step 5 – Placing design and sticking heat resistant tape

Now you need to place your sublimation design face in the side of the laminated wooden pieces. Now stick properly the heat-resistant tape on the other side of the pieces.

Step 6- Again Pressing Wooden Pieces

After placing sublimation design and sticking heat resistant tape, brings the slices or pieces again to the heat press. Place all these slices properly covered with sublimation paper on top. You will press it again for 70 seconds at 385 F or 195 C and remove the sublimation paper. There you go, your design is ready to look amazing. If you are confused while selecting the right time of heat press, it all depends on the temperature just increase the heat press temperature, less time will be required to complete your task.

We have discussed thermal laminating wood or optimizing wood for sublimation which is the best and safe way of transferring your design onto the smooth and blank surface of the wood. It’s also the cleanest method and quickest method for this process. the question arises here that how to sublimate on uncoated wood? So there are more methods with no wood coating, using polyacrylic to sublimate on wood, and sanding sealer as well.

2. Bare Wood with No Coating

You can also technically sublimate on wood with no coating or any optimization, yes you heard right. But we always prefer the wood which is prepared, and the reason is the resulting image. Because the design doesn’t give the clean, clear, and the desired result on these woods than coating woods. Well, if the large pictures or graphics are used for this with less written. You may have good results but ultimately it will fade away over time.

It’s always important to remove the moisture from the wood before going for printing design on wood. We all know, wood naturally has moisture and we remove all kinds of moisture before starting any type of project related to wood because we get pure and our wished result. In this case, you can apply the above step-by-step guide, but as I said it’s not recommended to deliver bad results.

3. Using Polyacrylic to Sublimate on Wood

Another result-oriented and one of the best methods of wood sublimation is using polyacrylic layers to coat the wood. Polyacrylic is a water-based layer that protects the wood and applies to woodworking projects. The benefit of this layer is that it prevents all types of damage to your woods. That can be caused by meeting the high temperatures, water, and light as well because it’s non-flammable and can be cleaned easily.

Now coat the wood with a light polyacrylic layer and let it leave until it is fully dried and cured. To get the best results, you will have to wait in this case for a few days as it takes time to fully cure. But it also depends on the temperature that how much time it will take to be coated and cured fully.

When coated and curing done, then remove the moisture and use a medium to press the design on wood for almost 70 seconds at 385 F or 195 C. There is one hassle that the sublimation paper sticks to the polyacrylic layer. To remove this paper, you will need enough amount of water or probably you will dip into the water to remove this sublimation paper. But don’t worry, your wood won’t be damaged because of the polyacrylic layer.

Once it is fully wet, remove the paper carefully with fingers and it will take a few times to take off the paper. When the wooden pieces and all have been dried, I would recommend all of you to use topcoats as lacquer to make your design more colorful and clean. It’s easily accessible in the market, easily applicable and cheap as well.

4. Sanding Sealer

What if I tell you that this is one of the cheaper and easily appliable methods for sublimation on wood rather than the polyacrylic method. In this case, sublimation paper sticks less than the polyacrylic. The sanding sealer is thinner and can be easily applied. It behaves like a very light coat and you don’t require a sealer for the wood blank because it can bring the best results for you.

One of the admirable benefits of this method is that sanding sealer takes a lot less time for drying than polyacrylic. Because it dried within a few minutes and was ready to sublimate. In this case, you will notice that the sublimation paper will stick less to the wood.

Sublimation on Wood FAQs

You can sublimate on any kind of wood like birch, maple, bamboo, and other light-colored and should have a polymer coating. Because it is used to provide your wood wonderful protection from corrosion and provide superior adherence as well. It absorbs the sublimation inks easily and effectively more than any other non-polymer coating wood.

Choose the wood which is a light color and the most important thing when it comes to preparing the wood. It should be less sticky sublimation paper to the coating. Because the higher the smooth wood, the less the sticking issues. Before applying the coating, we sand 220 grit. Sublimation on the wood setting is one of the major parts to look your design good or bad.

Yes, sublimation on painted wood is also possible because I have pressed my other wood pieces at 390 F to get an experience of this method. What I have got, I found the rustic look to the piece that was actually a unique thing to me than other methods. MDF is the best-painted wood on which you can sublimate and it doesn’t have natural wood grain.

You can press the heat at 385 F or 195 C for 70 seconds to join together properly. To get the best result, press it with moderate temperature and wait for 70 seconds.

Just need to attach the picture on laminated side wood and stick the heat resistant tape on the blank side. Press the heat press at 385 F or 195 C and leave it for 70 seconds to fix with wood properly. After 700 seconds, you are ready to take your design.

Conclusion

We have all these four methods for the sake of knowing that which is the easy, authentic, and cheap method. After the hard work of our team, we got the thermal laminating wood is the best way of sublimating your design on the wood.

Other methods are not as good as thermal laminating wood. To all of those, who are facing difficulty while sublimation on wood or looking for the best guide, this article will help you step by step in successful sublimation. Even then, if you get confused while sublimation, you can leave a comment. We would like to answer all your queries.

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