What Is Sublimation Paper? | The Ultimate Guide

What Is Sublimation Paper

If you love customizing objects for entertainment purposes or professional means, you should get your hands on a sublimation paper. It can completely absorb the ink, retain it for a longer time, and can help you create masterpieces with bright colors. Stick around to know what sublimation paper is and how to use it in a printer. You can also get information about the quality of the sublimation paper and what factors to consider before buying.

What Is Sublimation Paper?

A sublimation paper is a special type of printing paper that can absorb and retain ink and transfer it onto the other material. It can be placed on different surfaces and indirectly prints them all. You can print many items like t-shirts, mousepads, mugs, coasters, puzzles, etc. Sublimation printing is the simplest and easiest method to personalize all these items in your home.

Sublimation printing paper has a special polyester coating that retains the ink inside. Using the best sublimation paper is not different from the usual printing papers. The only difference lies in the quality, texture, and output only. A sublimation paper can be used in inkjet printers and uses special sublimation inks. This does not work with the normal printing inks and will destroy the printing material.

The sublimation transfer paper shows its magic when placed on a blank surface for printing. When heated, the sublimation paper dye changes into the gaseous form and transfers onto the blank material. When transferred, it changes from the gaseous to the solid-state and is absorbed by the material. Sublimation prints usually last for life until the material underneath gets destroyed. Moreover, you can use sublimation papers for storing designs/images as they can retain the ink forever until you feel like transferring them to any other material.

Quality Of Sublimation Paper

Usually, plain printing papers come in different qualities, and the same is the case with sublimation printing paper. Choosing the right sublimation paper for the heat press can be tricky for a few people. Many options are available in the market; some are expensive while others are affordable. If you are on a hunt for the sublimation transfer paper, you should consider the following factors that can help you buy the best one.

Color Quality

The color quality plays a very important role when selecting the right sublimation paper for your project. If you aspire to succeed in your business, this is the most important factor you must consider before making a choice. People often buy things that look bright and have a nice appearance; in sublimation printing, the items you sublimate get the prints and colors from the sublimation transfer paper. Make sure the paper you buy can handle colors and not make the projects look faded, dull, and old.

Transfer Rate

Next, we have the transfer rate of the inkjet sublimation paper. To get high-quality prints with high resolution, make sure your sublimation paper has a transfer rate of 95%. This ensures that the printing work will look the same on the mug, t-shirt, or coaster as it was looking on the paper. If the sublimation paper fails to transfer the image perfectly, all your hard work will go down the drain.

Drying Time

Drying time plays an important role in transferring the prints from the sublimation paper to other items. A good sublimation paper will have a quick drying time as it can absorb the ink and retain it until you transfer it to some other material. On the other hand, some sublimation inks take very long to dry and waste a lot of your time as you have to wait. Make sure you use a sub paper that dries quickly to finish the projects on time.


As mentioned in the article above, you can use sublimation papers for storing the designs/images unless you find the right material to transfer your prints on. But not all the dye sublimation papers available in the market are durable and keep the design and color bright when printed initially. Invest in a good quality sub paper that can retain the color for a long time and transfers them perfectly even after months.


If using a sublimation paper, make sure the thickness is accurate according to the degree of pressure you will have to apply on it. Thinner sublimation papers cannot withstand the force and pressure of the heat press and get curled and distorted. This will ruin the printing process, and you will have to start again. Use a thick sublimation printing paper that can handle pressure and transfer the designs and colors accurately in less time.

How To Use The Sublimation Paper

If you are a beginner who still needs guidance in using the sublimation paper in a printer, you can follow the steps discussed below. These will help you print the design on the sublimation paper and transfer it further to the material/products. You can print any design/photo accurately by following this step-by-step guide:

Step 1

You can design any image or download a photo that you like on your PC. Several design-creating software such as Canva, Photoshop, and Cricut are present that can help you adjust the size, colors, and dimensions according to the inkjet sublimation paper. You can also write a word by using the word processing software.

Step 2

Connect your sublimation printer with your PC. Replace the plain printing sheets with the best sublimation paper. Print the image or text you want to print on your t-shirt, mug, puzzle, or coaster. Leave the sub paper for a few minutes so that it can absorb the ink properly and does not destroy the other items.

Step 3

Meanwhile, the sublimation paper is kept for drying; you can prepare the material you want to transfer the print on. Clean the surface with a lint roller or a sponge to get rid of the dirt. Place the item/material on a flat surface to avoid inconvenience while transferring. Now, put the sublimation paper on the material facing downwards.

Step 4

Heat the heat/easy press for a few minutes and place it onto the material. If you use a sublimation paper for t-shirts, press the heat press for 60 seconds only to transfer the print. Similarly, if you are printing on a demanding object like a mug or a glass, you have to apply the force for 6-12 minutes, depending on the temperature and transfer rate.

Step 5

Remove the heat press and gently peel the sub paper from the surface. Let it dry for a few minutes so the material can absorb the print properly and does not spread. Once the surface gets dry, you can observe that the design/image has a bright appearance. This will not peel off or crack like other prints and stays forever.

Sublimation Paper vs. Heat Transfer Paper

There is not much difference when comparing the sublimation paper vs. heat transfer paper. Both of these are great and give amazing printing outputs. You can use any of these papers depending upon your personal preference. However, we will discuss some of the differences that can help you decide and fulfill your printing requirements.

Heat Transfer Paper

As by the name, heat transfer paper uses heat to transfer the design on the surface of the items/materials. You can use a heat/easy press or an iron for this purpose. This paper is only compatible with inkjet or laser printers, and you can peel them off when the design is transferred. This is the easiest method for garment decoration, even when low on a budget.

The heat transfer paper can transfer the designs on any material, including cotton and polyester. You can easily transfer print of any color on the shirt or coaster of your own choice. There are no color restrictions while using this paper. But when it comes to durability, the prints done by heat transfer paper can crack or peel off after sometimes when you wash the shirt or mug.

Sublimation Paper

The sublimation process is very much similar to the heat transfer paper, but the difference lies behind the science of the sublimation process. When the heat-press heats the sublimation inks, they change the state from solid to gas. After being transferred, the ink changes back to solid and is absorbed completely by the material. You will not feel an additional layer on top of the fabric/material.

This type of transfer is incredibly durable as there is no additional layer felt on the top and stays forever without getting peeled. The print will stay on unless the material underneath gets destroyed or breaks. The only downside of using the sublimation paper is that it is compatible only with polyester and hard surfaces. A poly coating can be done on the prints, so they stay on your customized items.

Frequently Asked Questions

A variety of sublimation papers is available in the market that can be used for sublimation printing. You can buy any of these and customize many objects.

No, parchment paper cannot be used for sublimation printing as it is thin and has moisture. When pressed with the heat press, they will curl up and destroy the print.

No, you cannot use sublimation paper in any printer. You can use it only with an inkjet printer to get the desired printing output. If you try using it with all the printers, you will ruin the designs.

A sub paper can be used for a sublimation printer as it gives bright color designs that stay forever. You can create any design with the help of software and print it.

Final Thoughts About Sublimation Paper

After reading the article above, you might have a clear idea about a sublimation paper and how it is different from heat transfer paper. You can now choose the best sublimation paper for your printing projects and get amazing results. The prints will have high-quality, bright colors as the material absorbs them. Hence sublimation paper is a cost-effective method for customizing various items present at home.

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