How To Do A Photo Transfer To Wood or Ceramic {DIY Coaster Tutorial}

You know what I love? Crafting! I’ve been addicted to DIYing everything lately and the latest item I’ve decided to make is photo transfer coasters. These fun coasters are super simple to do, fun to make, and oh-so-cute when you are finished.

DIY photo transfer coasters make a great gift as well. Gift them for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, or anything in-between! Package up a fun little gift to give to a family member who’d appreciate having a personalized gift!

Make DIY Photo Transfer Coasters

Materials

To make these simple coasters you need a few materials to get started. 

Wax Paper Method

  • Wax paper 
  • Glue stick
  • Printer paper
  • Inkjet printer (must be inkjet)
  • Wooden coasters (round or square)
  • Digital photos
  • Foam brush
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam roller (or use the back of a spoon or credit card)
  • Acrylic sealer

Printer Paper Method

  • Printer paper
  • Laser printer (must be a laser printer, if you don’t have one you can get pictures printed at any copy store inexpensively)
  • Wooden coasters (Amazon has a nice selection or find at any craft store)
  • Wood stain or acrylic paint
  • Digital photos
  • Foam brush
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam roller (or use the edge of a credit card)
  • Washcloth
  • Acrylic sealer

Ceramic Tile Method

  • 4″ Ceramic Tiles (I like the smooth white)
  • Pictures printed on photo paper, cut to just smaller than the tile size
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush
  • Acrylic sealer
  • Tacky Glue
  • Foam backing (cork or felt can be used as well)

There are three different methods that I tried out when making these coasters. While all look great in the end, each gives off a unique look. Depending on what look you are going for or who you are gifting to, you may decide you like one more than the other. 

photo transfer to wood

Photo Transfer To Wood – Wax Paper Method

If you want to do a photo transfer to wood, all you need for this method is an inkjet printer and a roll of wax paper… and an idea of what pictures you want on your wood when you’re finished. 🙂

Step one: Cut a sheet of wax paper to the size of a standard piece of printer paper. I did this by first gluing the printer paper to the wax paper, then just cutting off any excess wax paper.

Step two: Find a high-resolution image you like (if it has text, be sure to reverse the image using a photo editing program).

Put the sheet of your wax paper into the printer and click print. Be sure you are putting it in so that you print on the wax paper, not the regular paper. 

Since you are doing coasters, the images you need are pretty small and you can fit more than one on a page but I wouldn’t recommend doing it this way as it gets tricky to cut and place your images without touching the ink if you have more than one image at a time. 

Step three: Carefully place your image ink side down on top of your wooden coaster. Be careful not to touch any of the ink as it will be wet and will come off the wax paper onto your fingers instead of the wood.

Step four: Holding the transfer tight to the wood, and working quickly, swipe the edge of a credit card across the image. This pushes the ink from the wax paper down into the wood, which absorbs it. Push hard, but not so hard that you rip the wax paper.

Try not to move the wax paper at all during this process as you’ll smudge your image.

Once you’re pretty sure that you’ve transferred as much ink as possible, lift off your wax paper and get ready to do a little dance. Because that’s the first thing you’re going to want to do after your photo transfer turned out so well!

Step five: If you are transferring a photo to wood for decorative purposes you can stop at step four, but since we are making coasters you’ll need to protect your image and waterproof the wood.

You can do this with a simple spray-on clear acrylic sealer. I like to use the Mod Podge brand since it is readily available just about anywhere. 

Tips: Use smooth wood. Darker colors on lighter wood work best. Dampening the wood a bit with a sponge will make the transfer darker, but it might blur and smudge if you are not extremely careful.

Photo Transfer To Wood – Printer Paper Method

While the wax paper method is nice because you probably have most of the materials needed already, it can be a bit difficult to work with. The printer paper method can be a little less frustrating to ‘get right’. 

Prep (optional): If desired, stain or paint all but one side of your coasters. This will give your coasters a nice finish after you’ve transferred the photos to the wood. Whatever side you will be applying the photo to should not be stained or painted. 

Step one: Print out your desired image on a laserjet printer. Regular printer paper is all you need, but the printer MUST BE a laser printer. If you don’t have one at home you can get prints made at any copy store for a few cents. Be sure to print so that the size is the same as your coaster size (mine were 4″ x 4″).

Step two: Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the surface of the wood. 

Step three: Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to your image, then place print side down onto the wood.

Do your best to smooth out any air bubbles by sliding the edge of a credit card gently over the surface. Be careful not to tear the paper. 

Allow the print to sit overnight to dry.

Step 5: Remove the paper from the wood by getting it wet and gently rubbing with a washcloth and/or your fingers. 

You will have to do this in stages because just when you think you got all the paper off, letting it dry will reveal that more paper still needs to be removed. 

Step six: Whenever you decide you’ve removed enough of the remaining paper, you can simply stop here and seal with the spray sealer, or you can take a little creative liberty and apply some stain over the image. I did not apply stain to my coasters, but it can give a fun, vintage look if you decide to experiment with it. 

photo transfer to wood coasters

Photo Transfer To Ceramic Tile – Photo Paper Method

Perhaps the easiest of the three methods, the photo paper method is quick but still turns out fantastic results. It doesn’t give that vintage look the other two do, but if you want a pop of color, this method delivers!

Prep (optional): If desired, you can paint the unfinished edges of your ceramic tiles. I opted not to do this for my coasters.

Step 1: Print out photos on 4×6 printer paper and trim to be just smaller than the size of your coasters. 

Step 2: Apply Mod Podge to the back of the photo with a sponge brush, then press down onto the tile. Allow the tile to dry for at least 30 minutes (longer is better). 

Step 3: Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top of the photo and onto the edges of the tile to create a seal. Use thing, even strokes as your lines will show. This almost gives it a look like painted canvas. 

Repeat for 3-5 coats, allowing to dry completely between each coat.

Step 4: Spray with acrylic sealer. 

Step 5: Apply backing of choice with tacky glue. I chose to use foam in colors that complimented the photos, but you could use felt or cork as well. Simply cut to just smaller than the tile and adhere.

While the backing is optional on the wooden coasters, you should definitely apply it to the tile coasters to avoid scratching any surfaces. 

Your finished product will look fantastic!

Watch The Video

Watch me run through making each type of coaster in this time-lapse video. I do all three methods, wax paper photo transfer to wood, printer paper photo transfer to wood, and photo paper ceramic tile coasters. 

Check out all my other craft tutorials by visiting my Crafting section HERE!


Jesica H

My name is Jesica and I'm happy to 'meet' you! I'm just living life and loving every minute of it! I try to not let things hold me down or hold me back, I just live! Here at The Mommy Bunch, I offer solid advice on all things parenting, household, and living life as a working mom.

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