Today’s tutorial for using lamination to sublimate on wood is for you if you are tired of waiting for paint to dry or afraid your polyurethane layer is not the right thickness. This is my new favorite way to sublimate on wood because it is fast, easy to get great results, and most importantly: consistent. This takes the guess work out of the traditional method of coating wood blanks with polyurethane prior to sublimating. Designs sublimate beautifully into the lamination sheets resulting in effortlessly crisp designs. This is a perfect way to make your own décor.
The advantage of the lamination method is that you can do this entire project in under 15 minutes, vs using polyurethane which will require a minimum of 12 hours. Also (and I should have lead with this), NO SANDING! I’m sold! But are there any downsides? Unfortunately, yes. The disadvantage is that you will be limited by the size of the lamination sheets rather than your heat press. Most lamination sheets are letter size. There are some larger, albeit more expensive, options for slightly larger sizes. The lamination sheets also come in different sheens so you are not stuck with just glossy laminate. For today’s project, we will be using a wonderfully matte finish lamination sheet. Please note that matte finish does come at a premium over the glossy finish, but one box can create over 200 projects.
Project Supply List:
- Heat Press
- Sublimation Printer
- Sublimation Transfer Paper
- Butcher Paper
- Laminate Sheets
- 8 inch Wood Rounds
- Heat Resistant Tape
- Heat Resistant Gloves
- Craft Knife
How to Use Lamentation to Sublimate on Wood
Step 1: Prepare the Sublimation Design
Today, I am using a design that was inspired by this summer’s gardening adventure. Despite so much hail, every time I see flowers and blossoms blooming, I get so excited about what will grow next. Obnoxiously excited. So much hope for the harvest ahead! Anywho, I really like how the mid century mod color pallet works with the natural color of the wood.
I print sublimation designs from Silhouette Studio using an Epson WF 7720 with Cosmos Ink. For more detail on my print settings, check out this post on How to Print Sublimation Designs from Silhouette Studio. The printed colors will look muted or even incorrect when you print, but they will pop post pressing! Of course, don’t forget to mirror the design before printing.
Step 2: Laminate the Wood
Next, preheat the heat press to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the laminate sheet down to size for the blank. If you have laminate pouches, cut off what you need and save the other part for another project. Before putting the wood blank on the heat press, put a piece of butcher paper down (you don’t want to laminate your wood blank to your press). Place the lamination sheet on the wood blank with the exterior side up. If you are using traditional glossy lamination sheets, it’s easier to pick out the exterior side. Top with another sheet of butcher paper (can’t hurt, right?) Press with light/medium pressure for about 30 seconds. Check it and if there are loose areas in the laminate, press a little longer. Remove from the press and allow to cool completely before adding the sublimation transfer paper. **Increase the press temperature to 385 degrees Fahrenheit.**
Step 3: Sublimate the Design onto Laminated Wood
Now that the laminated wood has cooled, you can use a craft knife to cut the lamination sheet to size around the blank. I run the craft knife around at about a 45 degree angle and clean it up as best as possible. After doing that, you can add the transfer paper. Waiting for a cooled blank will prevent ghosting while aligning the design. When the design is where you want it on the wood blank, use heat resistant tape to secure it. Use butcher paper under the wood blank and on top of the transfer paper to protect your press from any escaping sublimation ink. Press at 385 degrees (increased from the 350 degrees for lamination) for 60 seconds. Remove from press and remove transfer paper.
Step 4: Admire Your Handy Work Using Lamination to Sublimate
Check out these beauties! The sign on the left has a glossy laminate and the sign on the right is matte laminate. I have not tested this outside, but I do not think this project would hold up long term in sunlight. Use this method for indoor décor.
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