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Pre-coating for sublimation transfers onto ceramic

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

Sublimation Coating Kit for Hard Surfaces

on eBay or


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Sublimation Coating for Fabric

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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 potentially helpful replies because when one reader suggested a source, other manufacturers felt that rather than just saying "us too", they had to go to "we're better than the other guys". Sorry but we can't encourage a spamfest and a ridiculous race to the bottom by allowing "comment spam".


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

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
February 23, 2011

thumbs up sign Thanks Wilfredo!


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

Q. Wilfredo: any suggestions of the brand or anything? Not familiar with automotive items. But really need to figure this out. Bought a bunch of coasters thinking they were sublimation and of course they are not. Before I send them back?

[Ed. note: We'll try to notify that poster of your response, but their posting is from pretty long ago. Fingers crossed]

Thanks so much!

V Tallman
- Mount Storm, West Virginia
November 1, 2023
    privately respond
to this RFQ   ⇧

Ed. note: As always, gentle readers: technical replies in public and commercial replies in private please (huh? why?)

A. Mix acetone [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] (maximum 10%) with Polyester resin and apply onto Ceramic mug/tile. Dry naturally and then bake at 200 °C.

Sharif Tajma
ceramic industry - Bangladesh
February 6, 2013

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 5, 2015

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

But I may be understanding the question ...
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. If that's your question, you do not apply the two components separately, you mix them first and then apply.

Wilfredo is implying that his advice will work on any surface. Good luck.


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

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
November 2, 2015

A. Automotive clearcoat will resist water and sun, but I'm not sure if your sublimation ink will resist the sun.

Nothing lasts forever, and paint is only paint. If a few people walked on it in socks it would probably be okay, but in a high traffic area it will probably scratch and wear away rather quickly.
Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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

Mitesh vanjalkar
- Nagpur, Maharashtra, India
December 16, 2015

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 an 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
January 27, 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 9, 2018

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

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


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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 13, 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
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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 26, 2018

A. Hi Jim. I do neither sublimation coating nor auto painting so I'd only be guessing -- but I'd I'd bet that are supposed to let one layer cure before applying another layer on it.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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 business - Dadu, Sindh Pakistan
March 2, 2019

A. Hi Mushtaque. Although in one sense "clear coat" simply means a coating that is transparent, and that would include varnish, 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 or brushed quickly before the reaction between the two components has hardened the mixture.)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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

João Seguro
- Lisbon, Portugal
March 19, 2019

Q. I would like to sublimate glass but it needs to have a polyester coating on it in order for the sublimation ink to adhere. Is there something I can buy, or mix, to make a clear sublimation coating?

T Iksic
hobbyist - Moses Lake, Washington
May 9, 2023

A. Hi T.
I haven't done sublimation myself but have posted hundreds of Q&A's on the subject and it seems that 2-part automotive clearcoat is a fine coating for sublimating onto if you want the glass to remain clear. As Wilfredo Torres tells us, precede it with white primer if you don't need the glass to be clear. Give it a try and get back to us please.
Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. Hi Guys,

I see this response above:
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 14, 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; everything that is needed is contained in the single-can of paint except possibly a 'thinner' like acetone.

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 will remain a syrupy glop that never dries -- because the curing or hardening depends upon a chemical reaction between the two parts, not simple evaporation.

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 in a two-component clearcoat. 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
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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
May 11, 2019


TBD WOOD TEK - Delhi, India

Looking for pre coating for sublimation transfers onto tiles

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

Samuel Ohayon
Art student - Israel
February 20, 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
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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

A. Hi Joneth. All threads on this website are still active.

I've never heard of Rustoleum 2k. Please provide a link to where we can see this "2k" product, because if we're conflating Rustoleum 2X paint with two-component paints we're lost in the woods before we even start the journey :-(
If you've misread and are using rustoleum 2X, I don't think it wil work. Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I've been cheat sublimating with laminating sheets and it has come out really good ... but obviously with it being clear you see the background of the wood/board/tile ... How can I colour the surface before using the laminating sheets? Could I spray with radiator paint because this paint can withstand the heat, then heat the sheets on top? Thanks.

sue jackson
- east anglia uk
January 9, 2021

A. Hi Sue. I don't know what 'cheat sublimating' is, or if that was a typo/auto-correct for 'cheap' or 'clear' or something else. You can certainly paint wood and boards with high temperature paint -- not necessarily 'radiator paint', but maybe 'engine paint' or 'stove paint'.

Getting good adhesion onto ceramic tile is not easy because the surface is very deliberately designed to be glass-like with no absorption and no tooth. I'd suggest starting with studying this thread, then maybe googling 'painting ceramic tile' to get some hints on necessary sanding and primers; there are a lot of good instructions and videos.

If you have had 'really good' results sublimating onto tile except for the background color showing through, please take the time to tell Joneth what he's doing wrong. Each previous question which sits unanswered is of course one more thing distracting/delaying another reader from helping you with your problem :-)

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. 2k clear coat cannot resist that much heat you need to try a bit with different brands since most clears will have heat marks above 160 degrees if you sublimate. HS does not work and MS might be a better option.

Nathan Dollas
- Melbourne, Australia
September 24, 2023

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