Whenever we hear about sublimation, the only thing that comes to our mind is sublimating beautiful designs primarily on t-shirts. But, what if we said that sublimation is more than just embedding beautiful designs on apparel? Nowadays, sublimation on wood has become a norm and this art is selling like hot cakes in the market.
But (of course, there’s always a BUT), sublimating wood is not the same as that of apparel. It’s a complete process that you must know to get perfect results in a single go.
Today, we are here to explore just THAT based on our experience of imprinting different designs on wooden blanks. Go through this guide thoroughly and at the end of it, you will become a PRO in wood sublimation for sure. Have a look:
Table Of Contents
- Sublimation on Wood: How to Get Started?
- How to sublimate on wood using thermal laminate (For Instance)
- Materials You Will Need
- 1: Sublimation Printer
- 2: Sublimation Ink
- 3: Sublimation Transfer Paper
- 4: Wood Surface/Blanks
- 5: Heat Press Machine
- How to Do Wood Sublimation in Simple and Easy Steps:
- How to do Sublimation on Wood with Polycrylic?
- How to Sublimate on Uncoated Wood?
- What Type of Wood Sublimation Blanks are Best?
- What Type of Sublimation Ink is Best for Sublimation on Wood?
- Useful Tips for Perfect Sublimation on Wood Blanks
Sublimation on Wood: How to Get Started?
A little bit about sublimation first just to revise the actual concept, “It’s the process to embed a specific design on a surface (mainly fabric) through ink and heat.” This printing method is way better than the other conventional ones and through sublimation, you can get vibrant and colorful results easily.
Moreover, this method is not limited to fabric only. For your information, “Sublimation could be done on different materials including metal, ceramic, as well as wood.”
The main question here arises, “Can we do sublimation on every type of wood?” A big NO! This method is not applicable to EVERY type of wood. With an uneven surface full of grain, you will simply mess up the whole design.
How to sublimate on wood using thermal laminate (For Instance)
You must know that sublimation is done on a special type of wood that has a polymer coating. In case it lacks polymer coating, you will need to apply laminating sheets using a heat press. See below How do you prepare wood for sublimation?
- Set the heat press machine at the temperature of 400 for up to 60 seconds.
- Place the wood blanks on the laminating sheet
- Cover the with a piece of parchment paper
- Press it for 60 second
- The laminating paper will be blended on the wood blanks
- Remove the excessive edges of the paper
- Print out your design from the sublimation printer onto the sublimation paper
- Transfer your design to the laminated blanks using a heat press.
OR, you can simply go for wooden blanks available on different marketplaces. (We will talk about them later) Anyways, to get started with wood sublimation, you will need to meet the following requirements first;
Materials You Will Need
1: Sublimation Printer
The most obvious requirement!
Getting a good sublimation printer means you will have better chances of imprinting designs on different wood surfaces without any compromise. We recommend getting an Epson EcoTank WF-7720 as it produces beautiful and high-res images on the sublimation paper.
SawGrass SG-500 is also a perfect option as it offers borderless photo printing while maintaining the design’s resolution.
2: Sublimation Ink
Ordinary printer ink is not going to work and we all know that. For high-resolution prints on the sublimation paper, you will need quality sublimation ink for that purpose.
We suggest getting the Hiipoo sublimation ink package as it’s quite popular and this ink can satisfy user demands perfectly.
3: Sublimation Transfer Paper
That’s a no-brainer. A quality transfer paper is a must when it comes to wood sublimation. With so many brands available in the market, we would recommend choosing an A-SUB sublimation paper for effective design transfer.
4: Wood Surface/Blanks
If you are not fond of extra hassle, then simply get yourself wooden blanks from online retailers such as Amazon or Etsy.
Similarly, if you have chosen a wood surface, make sure that it has got a polymer or a lamination coating.
Of course, you will need a lamination machine for the whole process. So, the easiest way is to just go with wooden sublimation blanks as they have already got a durable coating.
5: Heat Press Machine
The design you imprint on sublimation paper will get transferred to the wood surface through a heat press machine. I always use quality products Fancierstudio Power Heat press is one of them.
Get yourself a reliable heat press machine and make sure that it can thoroughly transfer the design from sublimation paper on the wooden blank. These are all primary requirements for initiating the wood sublimation process. Got them all? Let us now start with the important steps to follow:
How to Do Wood Sublimation in Simple and Easy Steps:
Step 1: Choose the Right Wood Texture
The step that will either make your design go WOW on the blank or will make it extremely messy. Choose the right texture carefully and then proceed with selecting the design that you want to get imprinted on the wooden blank.
If you are using an ordinary wood surface, make sure that it’s properly laminated before you advance to the next step.
Step 2: Sublimate Designs Using the Printer
Use your sublimation printer and get three to four prints on the sublimation paper while keeping the surface area of the wood in mind. If your printer does not offer borderless prints, you will have to trim the design on your own using a scissor.
Use Hiipoo sublimation ink to get vibrant and high-resolution photo quality on the transfer paper accordingly.
Step 3: Adjust the Design on the Blank
After sublimating the designs on the paper, put it on the wooden blank and adjust its position accordingly.
You can use sublimation tape while adjusting the paper, and we do recommend using it because the paper could move here and there while you put a heat press machine on it.
Step 4: Heat Press the Design
Set “light pressure” on your heat-press machine with a 10-minute timer and a temperature of about 360°F. Next, after adjusting the design on the wooden blank, keep it under the heat press machine and turn it on.
Wait for the design to get fully imprinted on the wooden blank.
Step 5: Final Process
Do not touch the blank as soon as the heat press machine embeds the design on it. Let it cool down at room temperature for a while.
Carefully remove sublimation paper from the wooden blank and TA-DA! You have got your first design imprinted on a smooth wooden blank. You can now gift this sublimation design to your loved ones. That’s the most basic process of sublimation on wood.
You can also acquire some alternate methods to get the process done, especially if you cannot afford wooden blanks. We take a look at those processes one by one:
How to do Sublimation on Wood with Polycrylic?
Sublimating on a wood surface without any coating is a BAD IDEA!
However, if you cannot afford wooden blanks or lamination, you can utilize Polycrylic.
For those who don’t know: “Polycrylic is actually a crystal-clear and super-fast drying coating mainly done on the furniture to protect it.” It’s easily available on any retailer, so you can purchase it.
The process of applying Polycrylic on a wooden surface does not require any extra hassle. Simply use a small paintbrush to apply the topcoat to the wood that you want to sublimate. Let the Polycrylic dry at room temperature.
Repeat the same steps of sublimating design on paper, then put them on the Polycrylic coated wood. Apply the heat press and you will get the design imprinted on the wood coated with Polycrylic in about 30 to 40 minutes.
Although it’s a cheap way of sublimating, the prints are not resistant to water. Moreover, the quality of the print is way too average. As long as you want to practice sublimation on wood, it’s a good option, but never try it for professional business.
How to Sublimate on Uncoated Wood?
Although we do not endorse sublimating designs on uncoated wood, you can still give it a try. First of all, make sure that the surface is smooth and thoroughly clean. Sublimation on wood is possible as the wood would be laminated with polymer coating.
When you put laminated wood under the heat-press, set the temperature Wait for the machine to embed the design on uncoated wood. Let the wood dry and you will have the final results in front of you.
Using an uncoated wooden blank for sublimation is always a bad idea. The design will not retain itself for a long time. In fact, it will either fade or be washed away if the wood surface is exposed to water.
From all the methods we mentioned above, using ready-made wooden blanks is the best one. But, the question here that will sting you a bit is ‘what type of sublimation blanks is best’? Hop down for the answer:
What Type of Wood Sublimation Blanks are Best?
It all depends upon your preferences and requirements, but here are some factors that you can count while choosing the wooden painted sublimation blanks according to our experience:
First, make sure that the blanks are properly coated so that you are not bothered with the design getting messed up during the whole process.
If you want larger designs to get imprinted on the wood, then choose smooth and even wooden blanks with large dimensions. Some wooden blanks also offer double-sided sublimation as both sides are thoroughly coated.
You can have a look at them too if you want to sublimate both sides of the blanks using a heat press machine. , Similarly, the type of wood you choose will also impact the whole process. The ideal choices would be to get maple, bamboo, birch, or any other light-colored wood.
Make sure that it’s sap-free for a thorough imprinting process as well. Choosing a light-colored wood blank will make your design more vibrant than it already is. More precisely, any wooden blank that has got a polymer coating is ideal for sublimation and you must prioritize it.
Keep these things in mind and you can enjoy embedding beautiful artworks on wood surfaces for a long time.
What Type of Sublimation Ink is Best for Sublimation on Wood?
Not every sublimation ink will do well on wooden blanks. The first thing to do is to check whether the ink offers compatibility with wood sublimation or not.
Compatibility of the ink with your printer is also necessary. For instance, Hiipoo sublimation inks are suitable for most Epson sublimation printers. On the other hand, SawGrass has its own sublimation ink available in the market, so if you use SG-500 or SG-400, we would suggest getting it accordingly.
Apart from compatibility with the wood, the ink should be able to work fine with other objects as well. That would include metals, ceramic, phone covers, other sublimation surfaces, etc. The budget is another important point to consider. Most inks will cost you around $20 to $30, but if you want better results at all costs, we would recommend opting for expensive options.
Useful Tips for Perfect Sublimation on Wood Blanks
- Always use wooden blanks with a polymer coating or laminate them properly. The least you can do is to coat them with Polycrylic before advancing.
- Choose sublimation ink that’s compatible with different objects including phone covers, wood, and ceramic plates, etc.
- The chances of obtaining high-quality designs on sublimation papers increase when you use a reliable sublimation printer with it.
- Always tape the imprinted design on the chosen textured surface so that it gets embedded on the exact surface without any mess.
- After imprinting the design, let it get dry properly at room temperature. Remove the sublimation paper from it carefully.
- Keep practicing sublimating different designs on wood unless you start obtaining perfect results in a single go.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Can you sublimate on wood?
Wood, if coated with a polymer or laminated properly is an ideal substrate for sublimation. You can embed beautiful designs on differently shaped wooden surfaces and use them for home decoration or sell them according to your will and wish.
2. How do you do sublimation on wood?
First, decide on the texture of the wooden blank that you want to sublimate the design on. Next, use your printer to sublimate your required design on the sublimation blank. Attach it to the wood surface using tape and then utilize a heat press machine to embed the design on it. That’s ALL!
3. Can you heat press sublimation on wood?
If the design is already imprinted on a sublimation paper, then you can use the heat press machine directly with recommended settings to get it embedded on wood. If the design is not transferred on the sub-paper, you cannot use a heat press in that situation.
Final Takeaways: Sublimation on Wood
Sublimation is not limited to t-shirts, gloves, and hoodies anymore! People are actually earning a handful of money while selling wood sublimation arts in different online marketplaces.
Wood sublimation is not as difficult as you might think. It will look a bit messy at the start, but you will get good at it as you practice it more and more. Follow the steps and tips we have given above to attain perfection and then sell those wooden arts according to your will and wish!