Do you want to use HTV on wood, but don’t know where to start? Tired of messy paint, or vinyl decals that don’t stick? Follow this step-by-step tutorial to master ironing vinyl onto wooden surfaces for a perfect and long-lasting design every time.
Here are all of my tips and tricks for using HTV on wood crafts.
Have you ever thought about using heat transfer vinyl, or HTV, on wood? Because, I think you should…
For the longest time, I used my Cricut to cut stencils so that I could paint wood signs. Or I struggled with peel-and-stick vinyl that didn’t want to adhere easily to wood grain. Now, I’m strongly a member of team HTV!
This is so much quicker and easier than painting wood signs. Instead of making stencils, painting, and having to worry about paint bleeding – you can get clean lines and a quick application by using HTV.
Regular iron-on vinyl has a matte finish and goes on smooth with clean lines, so it’s perfect for wood signs and crafts.
Peel-and-Stick vs. Heat Transfer Vinyl
What’s the big difference anyway? Peel-and-stick vinyl is just that. It comes in a permanent and a temporary version – perfect for wall decals, car decals, mugs, wine glasses, making stencils for painting, etc. BUT… Maybe not so great for textured surfaces like fabric or wood.
What is HTV, Heat Transfer Vinyl, or Iron-On Vinyl
HTV itself is not sticky. It requires heat (from an iron or a heat press) in order to adhere to a surface. It was designed to make t-shirts (or tote bags, or other projects on fabric), but it can also be the perfect vinyl choice for wood.
Can I still use regular vinyl on wood… If I want to?
Well, I suppose you can use regular peel-and-stick vinyl on wood. Using permanent adhesive vinyl may be an OK choice for a very smooth piece of wood (like a wood round or well-sanded sign) that will only be displayed indoors or for a short period of time.
It has just been my personal experience that HTV works better in the long run. After all, there is nothing worse that having pieces of vinyl start to peel/fall off a project a few months down the road.
How to Iron Vinyl onto a Wood Surface
Process-wise, applying heat transfer vinyl to wood is very similar to that of applying heat transfer vinyl to a t-shirt or other fabric project. So if you’ve been making t-shirts for any length of time, this HTV project will be a piece of cake.
Supplies Used when Ironing Vinyl onto Wood
- wood surface – wood round, scrap wood, unfinished sign, you name it!
- (OPTIONAL) wood stain or paint – if you want any look other than unfinished wood. Go ahead and paint/stain your surface, let it dry completely, and then proceed with this project.
- Cricut Design Space and a cut file or letters to cut out
- a Cricut machine, cutting mat, and blade
- heat transfer vinyl
- weeding tool
- iron or Easy Press
- iron pad
First things first, you need to design and cut your vinyl. I like to do this in Cricut Design Space. For this project, I just used different fonts to make this example design.
Be sure to mirror your design, and then cut it out.
Next, weed your design by removing all of the background vinyl with your weeding tool.
Flip your vinyl design over and center it on the wood surface.
Now it’s time to iron the vinyl onto the wood.
What temperature do you need to use? If you are using an Easy Press, be sure to follow the directions that come with your HTV. It will tell you the temperature to select.
How long should you press the vinyl? This one is a bit tricky, and the answer is: it depends.
I recommend working in small areas at a time if your design allows. Press an area, and then check it. Peel away a corner of the backing, and see if the vinyl sticks to the wood.
Often times you will have to peel the backing off at just the right angle, and then coax the rest of the vinyl down as you go. Don’t be afraid to press the vinyl down with your fingers after you peel away the backing (while it is still warm) to the vinyl to stick smoothly.
Keep the Easy Press or iron in one spot. Don’t slide it back and forth, as this can cause the vinyl to slide around too.
And this is where practice helps: don’t press the vinyl for too long, either. If you press it for too long, the vinyl will start to shrink and leave glossy outline on the wood.
How to use HTV on Plank Wood
If you’re using HTV on a planked wooden sign, there will be seams to navigate. Here’s an example from another project.
Take your iron-on vinyl decal, and set it in place. Mark where the seam between boards lands. Cut the decal into two pieces along the seam line.
When it’s time to heat press the vinyl, apply one section of vinyl at a time.