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How to Apply Vinyl to Wood | Craftables

Can vinyl stick to wood? Here at Craftables we get this question all the time! The short answer is yes but keep reading to learn three awesome ways to add vinyl to wood. We'll show you how to apply permanent vinyl to stained wood, permanent vinyl to painted wood, and heat transfer vinyl to wood.

how to get vinyl on wood

What you'll need:

-a piece of wood to try this on- anything wooden will work like a wood slice, wooden pallet, wooden sign, wooden coasters, etc.

-651 permanent vinyl

-some sort of base coat treatment for the wood like polycrylic or acrylic paint

-sand paper

-a cutting machine (optional)

-weeding tools

-a squeegee or credit card

-a sheet of teflon paper

How to get vinyl to stick to wood- step 1:

Let's start with the basics- adding vinyl to wood. Vinyl sticks decently to untreated wood but we want to make sure that the vinyl is nice and stuck to the wood because we wouldn't want parts of your project to peel. 

So the first step is to sand down whatever wood you're working with. For this project we're working with a wooden pallet and when we bought it the wood was pretty rough and uneven. The more you sand it down the better your vinyl will stick so make sure to use lots of elbow grease!

wooden wedding sign

Step 2

The next step is to treat your wood. You need to add some sort of coating or primer that the vinyl can grip to. We've had huge success using Polycrylic, wood stain or acrylic paint, all of which you can find at your favorite craft store. Once you coat your wood in this base coat, you're going to want to wait 24-48 hours until your base coat is completely set before moving on to the next step.

wooden wedding sign

Step 3

This is the step where we apply our vinyl! For the basics of applying 651 permanent vinyl, refer to this video or this blog post. Apply your vinyl like you would for any surface, ensuring that you're pressing firmly with your squeegee. And that's it- you're done!

wooden wedding sign

How to get vinyl to stick to wood using heat

This may seem counterintuitive, but applying Oracal 651 on wood using heat can make the decal look like paint on wood. Just check out our swatch below to see what each technique looks like and this can help you decide which method you'd like to use on your project. If you would like to try using 651 with wood we'll show you how below.

What you'll need:

-a piece of wood to try this on- anything wooden will work like a wood slice, wooden pallet, wooden sign, wooden coasters, etc.

-651 permanent vinyl

-some sort of base coat treatment for the wood like polycrylic or acrylic paint

-sand paper

-a cutting machine (optional)

-weeding tools 

-a squeegee or credit card

-An iron, heat press or mini iron

Step 1

The first step with this project is to also sand down whatever surface you're going to be applying vinyl to. For this project our wood is already pretty smooth but we always want to make sure the surface is suitable for adhesive vinyl so we're going to be giving it another good sanding before we move to step 2.

custom wedding hanger

Step 2

Place your HTV on your project and make sure your iron is completely heated. Iron your HTV to your wood slowly, one section at a time. Do not wiggle your iron while you iron, if you do your decal may shift under your iron. We're using Craftables foil htv so we're ironing each section for :25 seconds with a teflon sheet. Usually I know that my vinyl has adhered when the carrier sheet starts to curl.

Step 3

Wait a full minute (or two!) and cold peel the carrier sheet off your htv. If you're not using foil make sure to follow the exact instructions- not every HTV is cold peel! For more information about HTV on alternative surfaces, check out this post.

custom wedding hanger

HTV versus 651 on wood

651 vs htv

There are so many combinations of ways to apply 651 and HTV to wood. I made these swatches (above) with the hopes that you could easily see the difference between 651, 651 with heat and HTV on wood but despite my best efforts it is nearly impossible to tell. I think it's because I used really smooth wood and it's hard to capture on camera but if you'd like a more painted-on look, using HTV with heat is the way to go. Apply the 651 vinyl as usual and then (with a teflon sheet between your project and iron) iron the decal for 10-15 seconds. HTV on wood is a great solution if you want a special treatment like foil, flock or glitter. The downside of using HTV is that sometimes the adhesive can leak around the edges of the decal. This is hardly noticeable (it happened in my swatch above) but I thought it was worth mentioning!

specialty htv on wood

And above are specialty HTV swatches. Flock, Craftables Smooth and Glitter all work so well on wood and I love how they look layered!

FAQ

Can I coat my vinyl with mod podge or topcoat after applying my 651?

There are a lot of mixed responses to this on the internet but my answer is to not bother. Your permanent vinyl should well adhere to wood that's treated with a base coat so long as your project is kept inside. If you want to try a topcoat, I would let the vinyl adhesive cure for 24-48 hours before adding a topcoat so the adhesives don't mix and cause the vinyl to peel.

My vinyl still isn't sticking!

Here is your solution- try a different transfer tape! In my experience, our Craftables transfer tape sticks and releases better on wood than the Oracal transfer tape. If you can, try using a different transfer tape. Another strategy that might help if you're in a pickle is to use spray adhesive on top of your wood. This provide a tacky surface that will definitely help your vinyl cling. One downside of this solution is that it will make your entire project a bit sticky. If you're just making a sign or some decor, that shouldn't be a problem.

My HTV keeps sliding around and moving underneath my iron

I have the same problem all the time! Here's what I do- I use my mini iron to nice and slow and without moving to iron each section. If you don't have a mini iron, you can use spray adhesive to get your decal to stick better.

Can you use stencil vinyl on wood?

Of course you can! Shop Oracal Stencil Vinyl today.