How to sublimate on wood? Can you sublimate on painted wood? sublimate on painted wood or sublimate on painted wood. All these keywords lie in this illustration of sublimation on wood.

How to Sublimate on Wood? (8 Easy Steps)

Printing with sublimation on wood is a common practice since it yields vivid and long-lasting results, making it ideal for decorating furniture and other wooden objects.

Knowing how to sublimate on wood can offer a wealth of opportunities for making one-of-a-kind items, whether you’re a hobbyist, entrepreneur, or professional artisan.

However, it can be challenging if you’ve never done this.

This printing method is gaining popularity among crafters, DIY enthusiasts, and businesses because it produces high-quality and long-lasting results. So let’s check “How to sublimate on wood?”


Is it possible to sublimate on wood?

Yes, it is possible to sublimate on wood. Choosing a suitable surface or substrate is the first step before you can sublimate on wood.

Sublimation is often done on MDF (medium-density fiberboard), plywood, and solid wood.

Depending on the intended use of the finished product, a specific variety of wood may be preferable due to its superior features and characteristics.


What type of wood is best for sublimation?

MDF, plywood, and solid wood are the most typical sublimation woods. It’s essential to pick the perfect wood because each variety has its traits.

MDF (medium-density fiberboard)



Yes. you are correct, the chess baords are also made of MDF fiberwood and that is the secret of its smooth texture  and long lasting quality.

MDF (medium-density fiberboard) is manufactured from resin-bound wood fibers.

Sublimation uses it because it is smooth, homogeneous, and easy to work with. MDF is cheaper and knot-free than solid wood.



Plywood is vital due to its thin wood layers bonded together. Sublimation works well on smooth, uniform plywood, which comes in various thicknesses.


Solid Wood

Solid wood can be sublimated, although it is not as uniform as MDF or plywood and may have natural defects. Sublimation requires smooth, knot-free wood.


Ultimately, MDF is great to sublimate on wood because of its smooth, consistent surface and consistency, making it easier to work with and cheaper than solid wood.


Related: What material can you Sublimate on ?


How to sublimate on wood?

Before you sublimate the wood, you need these required materials :

Required Material:


  • Wood substrate (MDF, Plywood, Solid wood)
  • Sublimation ink
  • Sublimation paper
  • Heat press
  • Primer (Coating for Wood susbtrates)
  • Clear coating
  • Cleaning materials


Steps to sublimate on wood

Here’s the step-by-step guide to sublimate on wood.


1. Prepare the wood surface

Clean the wood surface with a damp cloth to remove dust or debris. Then, apply a primer and let it dry for about 15 minutes.

The primer helps the sublimation ink adhere to the wood and helps fill in any small cracks or imperfections in the wood surface.

Then, apply a clear coating that will be used to coat the wood surface so that the ink can bond to the wood.


2. Print your image on the sublimation paper

Using a sublimation printer, print the image or design onto special sublimation paper using sublimation ink.


3. Cut the paper to the desired size if necessary

If the printed image is more significant than the wood surface, use scissors or cutting tools to cut the sublimation paper to the desired size.


4. Preheat the heat press

Set the heat press to the correct temperature and pressure for the specific wood type. The temperature range for sublimation is typically between 385°F – 400°F (196°C – 204°C)


5. Place the wood and paper in the heat press

Place the wood surface on the lower plate of the heat press and the sublimation paper on top of it, with the printed side facing down.


6. Press the wood and paper together

Close the upper plate of the heat press and press the wood surface and the sublimation paper together for the recommended time, typically between 60-90 seconds.


7. Remove the wood surface from the heat press

Carefully remove the wood surface from the heat press and let it cool down for a few minutes.


8. Remove the sublimation paper

Carefully peel off the sublimation paper from the wood surface, revealing the vibrant and permanent image.

And that’s it; these are the typical steps to sublimate on wood.


Also Read: How to Print on Mylar Bags?


Can you use Sublimation Ink on wood?

Yes, it is possible to use sublimation ink on wood.

However, not every type of wood can be sublimated. A light-colored, smooth, and sealed wood is required and will give best results after you sublimate on wood.

This is because sublimation ink bonds best to flat, smooth surfaces. Natural wood’s pores and textures prevent the ink from bonding reliably, making sublimation impossible.


Can you Sublimate on painted wood?


Sublimate on painted wood


What if the wood you need for your project is already painted?

Can you sublimate on painted wood?

The simple answer is Yes, but there are several caveats and restrictions to keep in mind while you sublimate on painted wood. Let’s examine the possibilities of sublimation on painted wood in this case.



Before you sublimate on painted on wood, there are several things you should consider because these condition can have crucial effect on your design.


1) Surface compatibility: It can be hard to sublimate on painted wood because there are many things that can affect how well it works with the process.

Some paints may not be able to stand up to heat, or they may have ingredients that are bad for sublimation ink.


2) Color vibrancy: Because both the paint and the wood surface can soak up colour, painted wood can sometimes end up with dull or muted colours.

It is important to test the sublimation parameters carefully to make sure the colours are bright and accurate.


3) Warping: During the process of sublimation on painted wood , surfaces that have been painted can sometimes warp because of the heat.

Because of the heat, the wood may expand or shrink, which could cause the final image to be distorted.

To reduce this risk, it’s important to use a heat press with a consistent and controlled environment and to use the recommended temperature and pressure settings.


4) Ink compatibility: If you use sublimation ink that doesn’t work well with painted wood, it could smudge, fade, or make the colours look bad.

This is because some inks might not be able to go all the way through the surface or might react badly with the paint.


You May Like: How To Fix Sublimation Mistakes?


Steps to sublimate on pianted wood


-Prepare your image

Before you start to sublimate on painted wood, you’ll need to prepare your image.

This means creating or finding an image you’d like to print on your wood and ensuring that it’s in the correct format for your printer.


-Print your image

Once your image is prepared, you’ll need to print it out using your sublimation printer.

Make sure to use sublimation ink and paper, as these are designed to work with the sublimation process.


-Position your image on the wood

Put the picture and the wood in the heat press and ensure the picture touches wood.

Close the heat press and follow the directions to set the time and temperature and then heat press the image.


-Remove the paper

Once the pressing is done, carefully peel the paper off the wood’s surface to see the bright, full-color design.

I hope you understand that the characteristics of the objects also matter as I mentioned some considerations before you sublimate on painted wood.


I covered this topic as much as I can but I still think there are some things left to be discussed. Overall if your project does cover all the standards then you will probably get the results.



Check out this tutorial if you missed something :



Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is sublimation printing?

Sublimation printing is a printing process that uses heat and pressure to transfer designs onto various materials, including wood.

Specifically, it uses heat to transform a solid kind of ink called sublimation ink into a gas, which is subsequently bonded to the wood surface.


Q: What kind of wood is suitable for sublimation?

Wood with a light hue, smooth surface, and a protective sealant will produce the most outstanding results.

The reason is sublimation ink bonds best to flat, smooth surfaces.

Manufactured woods such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), plywood, and engineered wood are ideal to sublimate on wood, and they can be painted or coated with a sealer to provide a smooth and sealed surface.


Q: Can you sublimate on painted  wood?

Sublimation works better with lighter-colored wood since dark wood may prevent the ink from bonding correctly and may dull the colors.

Colors will look more muted the darker the wood. Colors printed on the lighter wood will be truer to life.

Overall it depends on the paint color to sublimate on painted wood.


Q: How long does the printed image last on wood?

If the wood is sealed correctly and the sublimation process is carried out accurately, the printed image will last very long. The picture will not fade, peel, or break if the wood surface is not harmed.


Q: Can I use regular ink or a printer for sublimation on painted wood?

Regular printers and ink will not work for sublimation. You’ll need a sublimation printer and sublimation ink to sublimate on painted wood and get the best results.

Neither the regular ink nor the standard printer is meant to handle the sublimation ink; thus, the outcomes will not be as expected.


Q: Is a heat press necessary for sublimation on painted wood?

Sublimation on painted wood requires using a heat press to apply the intense heat and pressure needed to adhere the ink to the surface of the wood, making the ink permanent.

For the sublimation ink to transform into a gas and connect with the wood, a consistent and controlled source of heat and pressure is required.


Q: Can I sublimate on unfinished or raw wood?

Unfortunately, sublimation cannot be performed on raw or unfinished wood since the surface is not smooth and sealed, which is necessary for the ink to attach effectively.

Raw or untreated wood has a porous and rough surface, which prevents the ink from bonding correctly and prevents the desired outcomes.


Final thoughts

At last, you can sublimate on wood and you can also sublimate on painted wood with little effort and minimal difficulty if the proper materials and equipment are available.

Stunning, vivid, and durable designs may be achieved on wood with the appropriate planning and application, giving your products an edge. Sublimation on  painted wood is a beautiful medium for realizing one’s artistic vision.

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