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DIY Water Transfer Printing

Updated April 17, 2017

Water transfer printing is used to add custom designs and images to glass, ceramic, porcelain, tile, acrylic and metal. Water transfer paper can be used in all ink jet printers, and with some laser printers, depending on the brand of paper. It takes only a few minutes to print and apply a water transfer image, but it may take up to 24 hours to fully dry unless a hair dryer is used to speed drying times.

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  1. Wipe the water transfer paper with denatured alcohol to clean the surface. Set your printer settings to print in photo quality, and on glossy photo paper. Print your image on the paper using an ink jet printer. Allow the image to dry completely and cut off any transfer paper that isn't necessary for the image.

  2. Shake the can of clear coat acrylic paint and spray on several thin coats one immediately after another. Allow to dry completely to the touch before continuing. This will prevent the ink from running when the label is soaked in water.

  3. Soak your image in a shallow bowl of water for 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. Slide the paper backing from the image. This should be easy to do if the image has soaked long enough. Put the image flat against the surface, and slide it into position.

  5. Use the hair dryer on its lowest setting and apply heat until the decal is dry.

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Things You'll Need

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Water transfer paper
  • Clear coat acrylic spray paint
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Hair dryer

About the Author

Leah Newman has been a professional writer since 1999, writing about fine arts both in print and online. She specializes in how-to articles covering DIY projects. Newman holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia and a Graduate Certificate in Children's Literature from Pennsylvania State University.

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