How to Fire Decals on Ceramics

Updated February 21, 2017

Embellish your pottery creations or tiles with decals made specifically for ceramics. Once ceramic decals are applied, they must be fired, so a kiln is necessary. Ceramic decals can be purchased with premade designs, or they can be digitally custom-made out of your own artwork or photographs.

Wash and dry the glazed ceramic piece thoroughly.

Remove the waxed paper from the decal and trim around the image.

Fill a bowl with warm water. Put the decal into the water for about 30 seconds, or as long as it takes to curl up and uncurl in the water.

Remove the decal from the water. Don't let the paper backing slide off.

Press the decal gently against the ceramic surface and remove the paper. Use a moist cloth or squeegee to remove wetness and smooth out any wrinkles and air bubbles.

Dry the decal-mounted piece for 24 hours before firing.

Place the ceramic piece in a manual kiln with the lid cracked and fire for about three hours, starting on the low setting and gradually increasing the heat to high. Close the lid after about two hours, when it stops smoking. Allow it to slowly cool completely after the kiln is shut off.


Follow the manufacturer's instructions for a computerised kiln. It's normal for the decal colours to look less vivid before firing.


Do not fire the decal-mounted piece before it has dried completely; the 24-hour drying time ensures that it will be dry enough to fire.

Things You'll Need

  • Glazed ceramic piece
  • Ceramic decals
  • Scissors
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Squeegee
  • Kiln
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About the Author

Delaware-based Daisy Cuinn has been writing professionally since 1997, when she became the features editor for her local biweekly music newspaper. She has been a staff writer and contributor to online and offline magazines, including "What It Is!," and Slashfood. Cuinn holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Temple University.