How to Seal Vinyl on Wood: Tips and Tricks

  There are different ways to seal vinyl on wood and using Mod Podge is the easiest. Many crafters experiment with vinyl graphics on wood as well as the best ways for vinyl to securely attach to it.

Wood is a great material to work with. A lot of crafters see the beauty and aesthetic value that wood has as a decorative piece.

Many crafters are using vinyl to make intricate vinyl lettering for wood pieces. Given that, this article will talk you through the application and sealing of vinyl on wood. The tips and tricks offered in this article are useful and could turn your crafting career into a walk in the park.

Reasons for Choosing Vinyl for Wood Designs

Vinyl is great to use on wood for it provides the same effect as paint when applied to wood. Vinyl is easy to work with and is not messy. Once you stick vinyl to a wooden surface, you are done. With paint, you need to be patient and allow time for the paint to dry before you can say “done”.

Vinyl comes in different finishes, colors, and patterns. With design software and a cutting machine, you can make limitless designs with vinyl. You can make unique designs perfect for personalized wooden items.

With vinyl, the results are of the same quality compared to painted crafts that may look different for each piece made. Mistakes are easily forgivable with vinyl unlike when you use paint. You may even need to change your wooden piece which can be a total waste.

Here are some projects you can do with vinyl and wood:

  • Wood signs (stained, painted, or untreated wood)
  • Upcycling old wooden furniture
  •  Wooden blocks and wooden toys for young children
  • Stencils
how to seal vinyl on wood
Creation of Vinyl Decal by @calligraphiewithliz
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How to Apply Vinyl on Wood

Applying vinyl on wood is easy and fun to do. When working with wooden surfaces, you can use either adhesive vinyl or heat transfer vinyl (HTV). If you are just starting, you can use adhesive vinyl for it is easier to manage and mistakes are manageable.

It would be advantageous on your part if you try both vinyl types. Both types of vinyl look great when applied to wood. However, after trying out these two vinyl types, you will see which one you would prefer to use the most.

Here are the materials you will need:

  • Wood
  • Adhesive vinyl or heat transfer vinyl
  • Transfer tape
  • Sandpaper (150 grit)
  • Design software
  • Cutting machine
  • Weeding tool
  • Squeegee
  • Teflon paper
how to seal vinyl on wood
Vinyl Decals on Wood
Image from TechWrap Craft Instagram Page

Step 1: Sanding the Wood

Sanding the wood is very important. Sanding helps smoothen the wood’s surface. Vinyl will stick securely if the wood is completely sanded. If you plan to paint the wood, you still need to sand it first so the wood can absorb the paint.

You need to keep sanding the wood until it is smooth to touch. With a brush, you can remove the dust particles before you start painting or applying vinyl. Vinyl will stick well if there are no dust particles present underneath it.

Step 2: Treating the Wood

You may need to smoothen the wood further with paint. There are different paint options you can choose from such as polycrylic, wood stain, acrylic paint, and chalk paint. Let the paint dry out completely. Give your painted wood at least 24 hours to dry.

vinyl decals on wood
Vinyl Decals on Wood
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Step 3: Vinyl Application

Since there are two types of vinyl that work well on wood, you have to consider two different techniques starting from this point onwards. Permanent vinyl is applied differently than heat transfer vinyl.

  • Applying Permanent Adhesive Vinyl

Be calm, for applying vinyl on wood is similar to applying vinyl on other surfaces. First, you need to make your design using design software and cut it using a cutting machine. You need to weed out the excess vinyl.

Apply transfer paper on your vinyl decal and position it properly on your surface. In choosing a transfer paper or tape, choose the regular one and not the strong grip version. Apply the vinyl and burnish using a TeckWrap Craft squeegee or any hard and flat object like a credit card.

Once the vinyl has securely adhered to the wooden surface, remove the transfer paper. If you are planning on sealing the vinyl, let the vinyl adhesive cure for 24-48 hours before applying the topcoat.

wine red adhesive vinyl
TeckWrap Craft Matte Adhesive Vinyl Roll in Wine Red
(also available in lavender, light pink, tiffany, olive, salmon, and many more)
  • Applying Heat Transfer Vinyl

The important thing to remember when creating HTV designs is to always mirror the image. Prepare and heat your heat press or iron to 300°F. Once you are done cutting and weeding your HTV decal, it is time to apply the vinyl to the wood.

In placing the HTV on wood make sure that the liner side is facing you. With a silicone protective sheet, cover your design. You can then heat your vinyl with medium pressure for 35 seconds.

You have to press down firmly and evenly. You need to wait for the HTV to cool down before peeling off the transfer film.

adhesive vinyl sheets

TeckWrap Craft Beginner HTV Sheets Pack

Sealing Vinyl on Wood

Sealing vinyl on wood is optional. It is not necessary but it can be helpful to your project’s durability. There are different ways to seal craft projects on wood. For sealing vinyl you can use spray sealers like polyurethane polyacrylic spray.

Another great choice for sealing vinyl on wood is a dishwasher-safe Mod Podge or epoxy resin. Mod Podge is a versatile option for sealing vinyl. Mod Podge comes in glossy, glitter, or matte finishes. It is cheaper and readily available in local craft stores.

You may apply a clearcoat over your vinyl decal if your wooden project will be exposed to extreme outdoor elements or will be used frequently. A good vinyl sealer for outdoor use is sparurethane which is similar to polyurethane.

using vinyl on wood
Vinyl Decal on Wood
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Tips on What to Avoid When Working on Wood

Don’t Sand if Wood Is Smooth

Inspect your wood first before you begin crafting. If your wooden surface is treated and smooth to touch, you no longer need to sand it. Sanding will only turn your wood rough to touch. Using vinyl on wood saves you a lot of time.

Use Quality Wood

If you want great results, you need to choose high-quality wood. However, if you don’t have quality wood on hand, you use whatever it is that is available at the moment. If you have rough unsealed wood or low-quality plywood at home, you may use this for practice or experiment.

You may need to paint over wood that is unsealed or of low quality because of its rough texture. Even if you sand these types of wood, you may not achieve a smooth surface. To make it smooth as possible, it is best to paint the wood.  

how to seal vinyl on wood
Vinyl Decal on Wood
Image from TechWrap Craft Instagram Page

For Painted Wood, Wait for the Paint to Dry

You must let the paint dry out completely before applying vinyl. You may need at least 24 hours for the paint to completely dry.

If you are living in a cold or wet place, you may need to wait longer than 24 hours. Waiting for the paint to dry completely prevents the vinyl decal from sliding or not adhering to the surface.  

Be Cautious in Using Polycrylic

Some crafters are very cautious in using Polycrylic for it may cause color bleeding. If you want to try Polycrylic, it is advisable to test it out on another piece of wood before applying it to your project.

Look Out for Wood Sap

If you plan on using HTV on your wood project, do watch out for sap. Sap can be released by the wood if too much heat is applied to it. The sap is present in untreated wood or slightly stained wood.

how to seal vinyl on wood
Merry Christmas Wood Sign
Screenshot Image from TechWrap Craft Instagram Page

FAQs

1.  How Does Vinyl Stick to Wood?

Vinyl sticks on wood when it is sanded well until it is smooth, let the paint dry completely before sticking vinyl, and apply the vinyl decal on the wood firmly and evenly.

2.  Should Vinyl Be Coated?

Coating vinyl is unnecessary. Though, if you want to be sure, you may apply Polycrylic. Be careful though, because it may bleed the color. On the other hand, if you use Polyurethane, it may turn yellow in a few months and it could ruin the overall look of your project.

3.  Should the Same Heat Temperature Be Applied When You Iron Vinyl on Different Kinds of Wood?

Working with a 300°F temperature almost always works on different kinds of wood. Only apply heat for 25 seconds to avoid wood discoloration.

4.  Will Making Vinyl Stencil Be a Better Alternative?

Vinyl decal on wood looks different compared to using a vinyl stencil on wood. One is not better than the other. It is up to you which one is better for you.

5.  Can Vinyl Stick To Stained Wood?

Yes, vinyl sticks to stained wood. Over time, the stain of the wood may leave oily residue under the vinyl. This oily residue can make your vinyl lift and peel off from the wood. To address this problem, you need to seal the vinyl.

6. Can Vinyl Stick To Raw Wood?

Yes, vinyl can also stick to raw wood. The application of vinyl on raw wood is similar to the application process used for painted and stained wood. The raw wood must be sanded well before vinyl application. It is also important to seal the vinyl for long-term durability.

how to seal vinyl on wood
Halloween Decal on Wood using Glow-in-the-Dark Vinyl
Screenshot Image from TechWrap Craft Instagram Page

Conclusion

If this is your first time working with wood, you will enjoy it. Vinyl on wood looks amazing and is a great personalized gift to give to family and friends! For your next wood crafting project, check out TeckWrap Craft’s collection of adhesive vinyl and HTV. TeckWrap Craft offers high-quality vinyl that will surely result in incredible vinyl decals!

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