Wood Sublimation – How To Sublimate On Wood

Technically, you don’t need to have a creative mind to have wood sublimation crossed it. I mean every decor product and designing area is incomplete without wood – even you definitely have a hundred wooden items that (at least once) made you ask “can you sublimate on wood?”. Well, With a “BIG YES” there are a number of methods you may sublimate onto the wood. However,  the wood itself has many variations, the temperature must be worked out, and oh wait… What about the required items?

Wood Sublimation

Relax, you don’t need to worry about any of these. So what is that you actually need? A GREAT METHOD WITH THE RIGHT ITEMS AND A FEW TRICKS! In simple words, to not get you confused in any of these, we have made things simple by providing just about the right and enough information with all of your concerns being sorted along with that, there’s a guide on each step to keep you safe from making even minor errors.

How To Sublimate On Wood:

Well, wood sublimation for industrial level i.e interior design and decor is quite popular. Just like its popularity, different people have adopted different methods for how they sublimate the wood.

These multiple methods include;

  • Sublimating on a polymer-coated wood
  • Laminating plain wood for sublimation
  • Painted wood
  • Wood with polyacrylic coating
  • Plain wood

No doubt, you have multiple methods at your end but not all of them work nicely. Some have better results than others, for example. As a first-hand experienced user of all these methods, we have decided to go with those methods only that have the true results to make things easier and quite satisfying for you.

The Best Method For Wood Sublimation:

Among the five methods for wood sublimation, laminating and polymer-coated wood stand as the best. Though, technically they both are the same method. The difference is that sublimation on wood with laminate is a double and extra process where you have to make the plain wood compatible to accept sublimation ink while the polymer-coated wood comes sublimation ready so you just have to directly do the normal sublimation.

The Best Method For Wood Sublimation

As a  beginner to start sublimating wood, we might suggest you go with the polymer-coated one. But since the quality varies from manufacturer to manufacturer so it’s always better to have plain wood instead, laminate it manually, and then sublimate it. Besides, you can also try the different methods, (cause they are fun) but make sure you have extra wood chips and you are doing it just “for fun” only.

What Type Of Wood Is Best For Sublimation:

Sublimation has many advantages, one of which is printing on a wide variety of substrates. But here’s some bad news; “sublimation doesn’t work with any type of wood.” So, you also have to look out for what kind of wood you are using. Your options are MDF, chipboard, and simply natural wood.

Natural wood does lift a lot of sap and make the designs look rusty or messy, so it’s a clear NO! Chipboard doesn’t hold ink quite efficiently so we are left with the only option which is MDF. Fortunately, we are safe with the MDF as it holds the ink perfectly as well as withstands the temperatures of heat press without getting the particles separated.

Material List:

  • Laminating pouch
  • MDF wood chips 
  • Sublimation printer
  • Sublimation paper and ink
  • Heat press machine
  • Protected paper
  • Heat resistant gloves
  • Scissor and heat resistant tape

Sublimation Process: 

Too much chit-chat. Let’s get to the process!

Step #1 Getting Things Ready

Getting Things Ready

The first step is pretty much self-explanatory. You have to get the printed design on a sublimation paper using a sublimation printer. Keep that aside, and get to the wood and laminating sheets for sublimation.

Here you need to gather the uncoated wood ornaments, chips, slices, or whatever MDF wooden material you are using. Place them in the laminated bag and get it laminated using the laminating machine. You can also try heat press if you don’t have the laminating machine. The temperatures should be around 370-390 F and one minute to 80 seconds will be enough for getting them snuggly laminated.

Make sure the shiny side is on the top. As the wood is coated with laminating paper, trim off the excess paper using the scissors and by doing this you can make the wood and design sublimation ready!

Step #2 Assembling


If you are using polymer-coated wood, this is your first step. However, you also need to get the design ready first. Now, place the wood pieces on a spare paper and then printed sublimated paper upside down on the wood.

Make sure the wood pieces are sandwiched between the papers so the design doesn’t get imprinted on the heat press. In addition, you also have to secure the design with heat press tape so it will stay fit when placing it on the press. Lastly, just when you have put everything on the heat press, place the protective paper on both sides so it’ll not get everything stuck on the inside under high temperatures.

Step #3 Heat Pressing and Finalizing

Heat Pressing and Finalizing

The final task is to set the temperatures and let the machine get the woods to have the design. Though, you may set it as per the instructions that come with the machine.

Once, the pressing is over you’ll get done with dye-sublimation printing on wood. Now you can take out the design and make sure, you have worn your heat-resistant gloves when you do that. After that, remove the protected papers, tape, and the sublimation paper as well. Though you may wash the wood, and rub it with a cloth to check the consistency of the design to be assured that the design is fixed and permanent on the wood in its true color.


Fortunately, you can sublimate on painted wood but the temperatures must be checked and set carefully, as the design gets melted under high temperatures with a paint.

You can mix one tablespoon of water with peroxide, and then add one tablespoon of polyacrylic finish to make the sublimation spray. However, these are the DIY hacks and don’t have as true results as using the commercially manufactured sublimation spray.

Wrapping up:

Among many methods for wood sublimation, lamination effortlessly stands out. Besides giving true and permanent colors, it is also very easy and convenient to carry out the entire process with relatively less mess. Hope you have enjoyed the process of sublimation on wood and heading towards getting more printed wood for home decor and/or expanding your crafting business.


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