Sublimating on ceramic tiles is a great way to turn a catchphrase or your favorite logo into a functional item in your home that expresses your creativity. Whether it’s for your business or personal use, the possibilities are endless! With this blog post, go from novice level to professional by gaining all the essential tips and tricks of mastering tile sublimation. We’ll show you the optimal way to transfer stunning designs onto 4.25″ x 4.25″ ceramic tiles using a Polygloss coating quickly and easily with lasting results. Let’s get started!
Tips and Tricks to Sublimate on Ceramic Tile
- Electronic Image – I use Creative Fabrica
- 4.25 square ceramic tile – you can find at most home improvement stores
- Polygloss and catalyst – DyePress
- access to an oven
- sublimation printer, I use a converted Epson ET-15000, Sawgrass Printers are made specifically for sublimation
- Sublimation Dye ink, transfer paper
- Heat press
- Silicone Mats – 2
- cork backing
- Polycrylic (optional)
Choosing the right image
Pick an image that fits the tile size and has a good resolution
When deciding on which logo or personal image to sublimate onto ceramic tiles it is important to follow a few key guidelines. I use Creative Fabrica for the variety of images. Pick an image and size to fit the standard 4.25″ x 4.25″ tile; if the image is too large, it will be cropped and lose important details. If the chosen logo or picture is too small, there may be problems with resolution when printed. Additionally, make sure to choose an image with a good resolution on its own—a logo that looks crisp and clear in full-size might look blurry and distorted when printed onto such a small canvas. With these considerations in mind, you can have confidence that your finished design will transfer perfectly onto Polygloss coated tiles, giving you results you’ll be proud of.
Funny Chickens sell well in my town’s craft store Crafty Skills, so I picked this image and added the wording
Preparing your Polygloss coating
Make sure to apply the Polygloss coating evenly and keep away from dust
DyePress’ PolyGloss Coating is the essential ingredient for preparing the ceramic tile for sublimation ink transfer. With a make-up sponge, drip some of the mixed Dyepress Polygloss onto the tile and distribute a thin layer over the entire surface of the tile. Make sure you do not rub it in, just distribute the liquid over the surface. The idea is to get a layer of even coverage over the entire tile. Once the Dypress Polygloss layer is dry, cure the tile for 22 minutes at 340 degrees in a regular oven, or 300 degrees in a convection oven.
Wipe down ceramic tile with an alcohol wipe
Mix one oz of Dyepress Polygloss with 1 ml of catalyst and stir until well incorporated.
Apply a small amount of activated Polygloss to ceramic tile
To achieve optimal adhesion of the image, it is necessary to apply a thin layer of Polygloss on the ceramic tile surface using a silicone spatula or a makeup sponge in a gentle and even manner. The idea is to get a layer of even coverage over the entire tile.
Curing The Tile
Once the ceramic tiles have dried, either using a convection oven or a regular oven, cure the tiles for 22 minutes
Heat to 300 degrees for 22 minutes to cure
Heat to 340 degree for 22 minutes to cure
Cure in a Heat Press at 340 degrees for 15 minutes
Once the cured tiles have cooled, mark the center points on all four sides. For a 4.25 X 4.25 tile, the center points will be at 2.125 or 2 1/8
Printing your design onto transfer paper – using sublimation paper
To get started, you’ll need a sublimation printer and sublimation ink to transfer your art onto sublimation paper. With the right supplies and this simple process, you too can create beautiful ceramic tiles with your own customized designs. Sublimating your own creations is empowering and can spark hours of fun for both adults and children alike.
Create A Template
To help center the design for my ceramic tile, I create a template with a box that is 5.25 X 5.25 inches for my 4.25 X 4.25 ceramic tiles and mark the centers, so it does not get printed on the tile. Guide marks are added to aid in centering the image.
I like cute humorous images, so I chose an “I’ve seen Normal, Not Impressed” Image. I usually get a good laugh with this image.
Place the template image beneath the center image and align it as desired to be seen on the ceramic tile.
Align all layers and then print on sublimation paper
Printing your design onto transfer paper – using sublimation paper
Print Settings for Epson ET-15000
- Click on Print/Printer Icon
- Highlight your printer
- Click on the preferences tab
- Set Paper Source
- Set Document Size (I set this to Super B 13X9)
- Set Paper Type to Premium Presentation Matte
- Set Quality to High
- Select the More Options Tab
- Uncheck High Speed
- Check the Mirror Image
- Color Correction, click on Custom, Advanced tab, Color Management, Color Controls, click on Adobe RGB, Click on OK
- Printing Presets, select Add/Remove Presets, Name your settings, select OK, Apply
Print your image onto the transfer paper, and make sure the image is mirrored.
Sublimating the design onto tile
Sublimating your own design onto ceramic tiles has never been easier! All you need is a heat press, Dyepress Polygloss coating, transfer paper, and a 4.25″ x 4.25″ ceramic tile. First, make sure that the design is properly aligned on the tile before taping the edges of the transfer paper securely in place. Finally, place it into the heat press and heat at 400° for 10 minutes and your design will be transferred to perfection onto the tile!
Center tile and image
Once you have printed your design with the template and markings, center up the ceramic tile markings with the transfer paper markings.
Tape transfer paper
Once they are aligned, tape securely with heat tape
Heat press at 400 degrees for 10 minutes in 5 minute increments
Heat the Heat Press to 400 degrees
Line the bottom of the heat press with one silicone mat
Place the ceramic tile face down
Place the remaining silicone mat over the ceramic tile and close heat press for 5 minutes
Open the heat press and turn the coasters 180 degrees (to ensure even heating) and close heat press for additional 5 minutes
Open the heat press and turn the coasters 180 degrees (to ensure even heating) and
Using Heat Gloves remove and reveal your creation
Finishing up Spray polycrylic over image after it dries
Finishing up your project is simple and stress-free. Once the sublimation ink on the ceramic tile has dried, spray with Polycryclic spray, or lightly paint a thin layer of Polycrylic in a can. This will protect and reinforce the image. Polycrylic is a permanent clear coating that provides durable protection against water stains and makes cleaning up much easier. After the Polycrylic has been applied and dried, all you have to do is rub with rubbing alcohol to clean off any debris.
Adhere Self Adhesive Cork Backing to the back of the tile to make into a coffee table coaster
Adding a self-adhesive cork backing to the back of your ceramic tile not only ensures you won’t get scratched-up furniture but is also a great way to make those one-of-a-kind tiles you’ve worked so hard to create into beautiful coffee table coasters! Not only will your 4.25″x 4.25″ creations be protected by their corky cushion, but will also add an extra layer of texture and color that’s sure to be eye-catching. With the help of DyePress Polygloss coating and sublimation making these vibrant works of art onto your tile has never been easier – you can enjoy them in a functional manner too!
Remove Adhesive paper and adhere the cork backing to the tile.
Solving Common Issues
If you see small white spots on the image, it could mean some of the transfer paper has stuck to the tile. Just get a wet cloth and wipe off the paper, and the image should be fine.
What is sublimation printing, and how does it work?
Sublimation printing is a unique and vibrant way to add personality to anything! It captures bright and long-lasting ink, making it the perfect choice for fabric printing. It uses heat to transfer dye onto materials such as polyester or polymer-coated substrates.
Paper forms a part of this process too; a special type of sublimation paper absorbs the ink and then releases it when heated up against the material receiving the design.
Why choose sublimation over other methods?
Sublimation is a great choice if you want to make long-lasting, professional-quality products that stand out. Sublimation offers the benefits of durability, affordability, scratch resistance, vivid colors.
How to get started with sublimation printing?
Check out my Dye Sublimation for beginners blog here.
What materials do you need for sublimation printing, and where can you find them?
Some of my favorite sources
Conversion Kits and Ink
This post contains affiliate links to help support my crafting habit.