How To Add A Photo Transfer To Wood Furniture

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Hey there, my creative friend! Do I have a surprise for you! Did you know that you can make your own furniture transfers??? I was shocked when I figured out that all I needed to do was to pull out my iPhone and take a pic. Well, there’s a little more to it than that but not much. Today I’ll show you how to create your own photo transfer and how to apply it to wood furniture. The same process can be used on painted furniture as well.

This post contains a few affiliate links to help you find the products I use. You are not charged extra to use any of the links, but any income I make will be used for more fun projects! To see my full disclaimer, click here.

Everything is DO-able! Even a DIY photo transfer for $1!Click To TweetHow To Add A Photo Transfer To Wood Furniture

How To Add A Photo Transfer To Wood Furniture

Learn how I created a DIY photo transfer for literally a fraction of the cost of furniture transfers.

First off, let me just brag a minute about this $5 score. For some reason #OHTALLULAH really took to it. I think she’s trying to tell me NOT to paint it. HA! I already knew that. This antique washstand is solid oak and I have saved my fair share of them over the years but this time… it’s personal and for a special reason.

Skill Level: Beginner

Transferring a photo is a fun craft technique but there’s no reason I can think of why it can’t be used on wood furniture and it’s surprisingly easy.

Products List For This Project

Dresser Top

Choosing A Photo/Image For Your Project

Transfers for furniture are popular right now with furniture makeovers... but can I just complain a little about the price? Some of them can range from $40-$50 without shipping. I don't know about you but I would rather spend that $$ cha-ching on thrift furniture. So, I started researching and found this idea.

Transfers are popular right now with furniture makeovers… but can I just complain a little about the price? Some of them can range from $40-$50 without shipping. I don’t know about you but I would rather spend that $$ cha-ching on thrift furniture. So, I started researching and found this idea. My DIY photo transfer cost me $1 at my local print shop. Kinkos, Office Depot, Office Max, etc. will be able to do this for you.

When you have your image printed, 1) make sure it’s laser printed on regular paper. This is super important because the inkjet prints will not do well. 2) If your image has words you will need to flip (reverse) the image. If not, your words will be backward. NO Bueno! 3) Make sure that your image will fit the area you’re applying it to.

*The image does not have to be a photo of someone. Think outside of the box. Try taking a close up pic of something you love. I have a few flowers in my garden that would work nicely.

Application Of Photo Transfer

For a rustic edge on the photo transfer, try tearing around the image before applying it. Of course, you can transfer the whole image if you want to... just be sure to trim it to fit before applying the transfer (clear coat) medium. For this project, I am using Dixie Belle's Clear Coat as my transfer medium.

For a rustic edge on the photo transfer, try tearing around the image before applying it. Of course, you can transfer the whole image if you want to… just be sure to trim it to fit before applying the transfer (clear coat) medium. For this project, I am using Dixie Belle’s Clear Coat as my transfer medium. There are other transfer mediums that will do the trick but this worked fine and I had it on hand. Be sure to apply it pretty thick as seen in the above photo.

Once the image has been applied to your furniture, work from the inside-out of the photo transfer to push bubbles to the outer edges. Remember the transfer medium that was applied also works as a glue. Bubbles left under the transfer will affect the image and adhesion. Work slowly and take your time. Once it’s smooth, allow the image to completely dry. I recommend 24 hours to be safe.

Removing The Paper Backing

Once the image has dried completely (24 hours), I misted over the image with water and gently rubbed the paper to reveal the image underneath. This is a delicate process and I recommend using your fingertips.

Once the image has dried completely (24 hours), I misted over the image with water and gently rubbed the paper to reveal the image underneath. This is a delicate process and I recommend using your fingertips. I have read that you can use a damp cloth. Maybe so… but I just felt I had more control to rub away the paper with my fingers.

*It’s best if the photo transfer is applied on a flat surface rather than upright like the photo. This was done so that you could see the process.

You may need to remove the paper backing in layers on the photo transfer. I noticed white paper fuzzies left behind afterward so I went back and misted it again with water and rubbed gently to remove any leftover paper. That did the trick! Be careful not to overuse the water. Too much will damage the paper image and cause tears.

You may need to remove the paper backing in layers. I noticed white paper fuzzies left behind afterward so I went back and misted it again with water and rubbed gently to remove any leftover paper. That did the trick! Be careful not to overuse the water. Too much will damage the paper image and cause tears.

Now the hard part. Wait for it to dry… AGAIN! Once it’s dried use the Dixie Belle Gator Hideto seal your image. The Gator Hide can also be used over natural wood as a sealer. It’s my fave!

Accenting Your Photo Transfer

Once the topcoat is dried, try adding accents of wax over the transfer. For this project, I used white and black wax. It's a great way to add depth and a ton of character to your wood project pieces and photo transfers.

Once the topcoat is dried, try adding accents of wax over the transfer. For this project, I used white and black wax. It’s a great way to add depth and a ton of character to your wood project pieces and photo transfers.

Photo Transfer | In Memory Of…

Easy how to DIY photo transfer you can apply on wood furniture.

 

I love the way this photo adds so much to this vintage washstand. I replaced the pulls with these modern card catalog handles. Perfect for my office.

Now just in case, you’re wondering… the beautiful lady in the photo is my sweet Mother in law. As time would have it, it came and went way too quickly. Lena Ruth went to be with our heavenly Father last month. During the planning of her memorial, I came across this photo and knew right away what I wanted to do with it. We shared a lot of things in common. Horses, home design, travel, dessert, her son… but NOT painted furniture. *insert belly laugh* I’ll never forget the day she walked into our home (probably shocked from all the painted pieces I had done) and said, “I don’t like that”. I grew to love this woman with a big opinion because we also shared that. HA! This “no paint” makeover is for you Lena Ruth. I only wished I had done it sooner.

What's not to love when you use an old photo and turn it into a DIY photo transfer? Unique one of a kind and it cost $1. Budget friendly furniture makeovers.

What do you think? Do I have your creative wheels turning yet? Endless possibilities… think of colors… paint… painted furniture with transfers of your images. Tell me what you think in the comment section below. I love hearing from you. Oh and don’t forget to pin this to your furniture makeover Pinterest board. Take care and happy painting!

Until the next project… xo, Do

If you liked this makeover, check out these related posts.

 

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How To Add A Photo Transfer To Wood Furniture

10 Comments

  • Donna!!!!

    Omg!!! Thank you soooo much for this demonstration!! I have been looking into transfers and they are sooo expensive.. Like you I spend enough time and money on one piece that I wonder sometimes. But now this opens up a whole new world of options I had only dreamed of before! Thank you again!!

    April

  • Hi April!
    I’m so happy you enjoyed this. Finding ways to create on a budget is a challenge but I was super happy how it turned out. Keep me posted on how it works out for you.

    xo, Do

  • If you’re putting a transfer like this on a piece painted with chalk paint then will it need to be waxed or sealed first so all of the water doesn’t reactivate the paint.

  • Hey, Do!
    Questions:
    – If you painted the furniture, will the color come through on your image, ie the person’s face will be green-tinted (or whatever color you used)?
    – Do I have to reverse the image or will the print shop do that? If I have to do it, how is that done?

    Sorry about your mother-in-law. It’s so hard to lose someone you love!

    Angie

  • Hi Andrea, I think it depends on the brand of chalk paint you use. You would definitely need to allow it to dry and cure before applying the image transfer. I would not use wax as it repels water and the topcoat is water-based. Great question! Let me know how it works out. 🙂

  • Hi Angie,
    Yes! It surely will so if you’re concerned, use light-colored paint or depending on the color in the transfer. For example… if your transfer is very colorful, chose a color that would match. For black and white photos, I would definitely use a lighter color. Let me know how it works out. 🙂

  • To start with its a great piece of furniture. You just did a beautiful job of reviving it. The transfers are so expensive as you said and I love the way you used the stain weathered look. To me sometimes too many transfers take away from the hard work and use of the paint. It’s just perfect so thank you for sharing your talents and use of products.

  • Thank you, Pat! Happy to share with you and others. I’m not a huge fan of the transfers but in the right setting, they’re very pretty. I appreciate your words. xo, Do

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