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topic 34465

Pre coating for sublimation transfers onto ceramic

A discussion started in 2005 but continuing through 2020


Q. I would like to find a liquid that I could apply on ceramic tiles to allow me to have a base coating (polymer type or other) to accept sublimation transfers.

I am experimenting on my own to do my sublimation transfers onto tiles that I can coat myself without having to buy pre coated tiles designated for sublimation printing onto tiles.

The reason of my inquiry is that I want to develop in Tunisia a tile decorating business using local tiles with sublimation hot transfer printing. Commercially pre coated tiles for sublimation transfers are not available in Tunisia.

I would appreciate any advice or information on this subject.

Sincerely yours

Ameur Ben Arab
- San Francisco, California

affil. link
Sublimation Coating for hard materials

affil. link
Sublimation Coating for cotton fabric

October 2010

A. Hi, folks. According to coating consultant Carl Izzo, Nov. 2005, in Products Finishing magazine: two-component polyester coatings are suggested. For small jobs, polyester casting and coating resins are available from craft stores. For larger projects, mix the components and use a conventional spray gun (using it up quickly and cleaning the equipment because of the short shelf life) or use a two-head spray gun. I have no personal experience in this though.

We apologize but we had to delete some helpful replies because when a reader suggested a source, other manufacturers naturally felt that they needed to add not just their "us too", but their "we're better than the other guys". Sorry but we can't encourage a race to the bottom this way, a ridiculous spamfest, let alone ask the site's supporting advertisers (who make this forum possible) to pay the costs of their competitors glowingly promoting themselves.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

February 23, 2011

A. The answer is simple and it will solve all your coating problems. Go to your local automotive paint supplier and buy the best white primer and matching clearcoat and that is all you need. Let it dry for 24 hours or bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees and you are ready to sublimate on any surface, porous or non-porous.

Wilfredo Torres
- Ponce, Puerto Rico

thumbs up sign Thanks Wilfredo!


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

February 6, 2013

A. Mix Acetone maximum 10% with Polyester resin and apply onto Ceramic mug/tile. Dry naturally and then bake at 200 °C.

Sharif Tajma
ceramic industry - Bangladesh

March 5, 2015

Q. When you use primer and clear coat, do you mix it together or apply separately and can you coat wood, glass or ceramic


Shirley Knight
NA - Poulton-le-fylde Lancashire, England

March 2015

Hi Shirley. You would certainly not mix two different paint systems like a primer and a clearcoat. You apply the primer first, then the clearcoat.

But other than that, I'm not sure if I understand the question, and don't want to mislead you. Many paints, including epoxies and automotive clearcoats, are 2K (2-part, 2-component) systems; they don't "dry" -- rather the two components chemically react with each other to cause the hardening. Wilfredo is implying that this advice will work on any surface. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

November 2, 2015

Q. I am wondering ... you say that you can use automotive paints to sublimate, I need to use on Tiles also. Is the product everlasting, can it withstand water and sun?
since it is a automotive paint? can the tiles be used to walk upon?
I really want to try this method, just I am trying to find the correct paint suggested which you suggested is " best white primer and matching clear coat"
I will try this, and keep all posted with results
I have a press and I currently do printing on aluminum, so it will be interesting to know

Stephanie McGehee
Metal Fusion Kuwait - kuwait city, Kuwait

December 16, 2015

Q. Same coating use on mug, what is sublimation liquid, and is it harmful for health?

Mitesh vanjalkar
- Nagpur, maharashtra, India

January 27, 2018

A. Just a response to this sublimation subject. I tried most of the suggested methods in this thread and a previous one. I found the auto clear coat suggestion a winner for sublimation on tile. I tried bisque tile and store bought ceramic floor tile with high success. I used a 4 to 1 system from a auto paint store. I waited two days after coating, then, after trials, found that 400 °F for 6 minutes with medium pressure was a good recipe. My next clear coat purchase will probably be a 2 to 1 system which I'm told produces a thicker coating.

Dennis Moore
NW Gyotaku - Gig Harbor, Washington, US

April 9, 2018

Q. Hi,

Thank you for all this information. I want to do small craft projects. I am still wondering: after putting on the car paint and letting it rest 24 hours, is it safe to put it in my home oven? Or chemicals will be in the breathing air afterwords? Or I should not worry?

Thank you very much,

Andreanne Charbonneau-D.
- Montreal, Quebec, Canada

April 2018

Hi Andreanne. Maybe someone else will give you justification to do this, but my opinion, quoted from other letters on this site is:

Kitchen ovens should be reserved solely for food service. That's harsh I know -- but it's just not a good idea to try to decide which facets of what hobbies and home & auto repairs can be pushed just how far in your food oven. It's human nature that if you don't get a separate oven the first time, you never will; and with each project you'll keep increasing the risk further and further :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

April 13, 2018

Q. Hello, I am wondering if you need to use the white automotive paint or if you can just clear coat a mug you already have that is already a light color?

LaVonna Hardin
- Yuba City, California USA

April 2018

Hi LaVonna. It seems to me that Wilfredo is implying that the clear coat, rather than the white paint, is what absorbs the sublimated gasses. But whether the clearcoat will reliably stick to your mug without a primer is probably a subject for trial & error. Please share & share alike and let us know what happened.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

May 26, 2018

Q. Concerning the white auto primer and clear coat. You mentioned that a chemical reaction is what hardens the finish. Is the primer allowed to dry before applying the CC, or is the CC applied immediately after the primer?

Jim Sears
- Jeffersonville, Ohio USA

May 2018

A. Hi Jim. I do neither sublimation coating nor auto painting so I'd only be guessing -- but I'd bet that almost any employee of any body repair shop can answer :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

March 2, 2019

Q. What do you mean about "clear coat" -- I think is it varnish? I too am puzzled for sublimation coating. Kindly help me.

Mushtaque ali
printing busines - Dadu, Sindh pakistan

March 2019

A. Hi Mushtaque. Although in one sense "clear coat" simply means a coating that is transparent, people here are actually referring to "automotive clear coat", which is a two-component polyurethane coating.

(One of the two components is a polyol; the other is polyisocyanate. The two components 'react' with each other to harden. They can be sprayed simultaneously from a "two-component" gun, but usually they are simply mixed and then sprayed quickly before the reaction between the two components has hardened the mixture.)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

March 19, 2019

Q. Hi I am João from Portugal. Anybody know a machine to apply the coating into tiles?


João Seguro
- Lisbon, Portugal

Ed. note: Please feel free to help out João with sources, but NO testimonials or slams please (why?)

April 14, 2019

Q. Hi Guys,

I see this response above:
"February 6, 2013
Mix Acetone maximum 10% with Polyester resin and apply onto Ceramic mug/tile. Dry naturally and then bake at 200 °C."

What I would like to know is if you need to use a catalyst or can the polyester resin be mixed with acetone, left to air dry then baked? Any help much appreciated.

Tania Ismail
- Melbourne Australia

April 2019

A. Hi Tania. I know this is confusing to people but there are both single-component and two-component resin coating systems.

An example of a single component coating is typical latex or oil-based house paint or wall paint. The solvent evaporates or dries, and there might possibly even be a reaction with the oxygen in the air, but the drying or curing is self contained; everything that is needed is contained in the single-can of paint.

An example of a two-component resin is your typical "epoxy" glue where two tubes of stuff are mixed together. The one tube might be called the base or sometimes "part A", and the other tube might be called hardener, or catalyst, or sometimes "part B". Without the hardener or catalyst the base remains syrupy glop that never dries -- because the hardening depends upon a chemical reaction between the two parts.

I think the answer to your question is that the "acetone plus polyester" recipe is for a single component resin; it's not suggesting that you can use acetone in place of the catalyst hardener. I suspect that if you tried that it would remain a syrupy glop whether air-dried or baked.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

May 11, 2019

Q. Do you need to do anything to prep the tiles before coating? Like removing the glossy glaze ?

Natasha Brooks
Perpetual Media - Rockhampton, OLD, Australia

December 20, 2019



Looking for pre coating for sublimation transfers on to tiles

February 20, 2020 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I am looking for pre coating for sublimation transfers onto ceramic tiles.

Samuel Ohayon
Art student - Israel

February 2020

A. Hi Samuel. More words please! I don't know (and don't think anybody else does either) whether you are looking for a coating service who will coat your tiles for you, or a commercial precoat liquid you can buy and apply yourself, or a formula to experiment to try to make your own precoats, or instructions on how to prep the ceramic and do the process, or what. Thanks.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

May 17, 2020

Q. Hi there

I hope someone is still active on this thread?

I read about applying 2k to normal tiles in order to sublimate on it. We bought Rustoleum 2k and my husband sprayed the test tile 3 times.

When I sublimated, it turned out bubbly and almost as if the product melted instead of the dye transferred.

I pressed it at 180 °C for 350 secs.

Any advice?

Thank you.

Joneth Dunning
- South Africa


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