Today, we will be printing & applying image transfers using Waterslide Decals and an inkjet printer. We will look at the pros, and cons of making Custom Waterslide Decals along with a few helpful tips for making quality transfers. Then we will be applying our decals to upcycled thrifted finds with our DIY transfers!
We will be applying our custom waterslide decal transfers to glass and metal today but they can be applied to most clean surfaces including wood, clay, ceramic, wax, and soap!
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DIY Image Transfer Methods
Out of the five DIY Transfer methods that we have been looking at, waterslide decals are the ones that offer beautiful results with crisp, clear images and ease of use! Waterslide decal image transfers are easy to use, budget-friendly, and versatile.
Here is my post on the 5 Easy Inkjet Printer DIY Image Transfers to see side by side comparisons of all five methods & see what the other four transfer methods are!
I have a tutorial for DIY Transfers – Freezer Paper Image Transfers! and one for DIY Rice Paper Image Transfers that you will want to check out!
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my disclosure policy here.
Materials & Tools for Custom Waterslide Decal Transfers
- Basic Inkjet Printer -I use an old HP Printer but here is a similar model and the one I will most likely purchase next
- Hayes Waterslide Decal Paper (they offer INKJET & LASER options)
- Spray Sealer (I used Krylon Triple Glaze)
- Clean Cloth
- Rubbing Alcohol (to clean glass surface)
- Dish with room temperature water (large enough to submerge the decal fully into water
- A Printable Graphic or Image – Canva.com and Thegraphicsfairy.com are wonderful resources for printable vintage images and they offer both free and paid versions.
I offer FREE Printables here on my blog you can find them @ https://creativediypurpose.com/category/free-printables/. I add new ones each week and I take requests for ideas on future printables!
Tips for Making Quality Custom Waterslide Decals
- It is all about sealing the ink on your transfers prior to soaking them in water. Not enough sealer or sealing missing in spots can cause the ink to come off your decal. I have found if I spray the decal sheet with sealer and look at the sheet from a side view to ensure every inch is wet with sealer for each application.
The Triple Spray Glaze from Krylon made this step much easier. Only one spray instead of three and it is easy to see if your image is completely covered due to the glaze being shiny. If you prefer a matte finish you can apply a matte sealer on the decal once it is on your item.
- You’ll want room temperature water to soak your decals in. Decals can become gummy if the temp isn’t room temp.
Pros of Custom Waterslide Decals
- You can create and use your own designs to transform your projects!
- UNLIMITED choices for designs
- You can print from 1000’s & 1000’s of available graphics and printables online
- Currently around a $1 a page to create your decals
- Easy & user friendly to create and apply waterslide decals
- Applies to most clean surfaces even painted ones
- Inkjet AND Laser Printer Decal options
Waterslide decals can be applied to wood, wax, clay, metal, glass, ceramic, mirror, wax, soap, plastic, fingernails, and canvas. I did read that some applications may be used in the oven to heat set but, I have never tried that option.
Cons of Custom Waterslide Decals
- Takes time to prepare the decals (at least an hour from printer to application) – can be challenging in humid weather
- Can be frustrating if your image doesn’t have the full sealer over the entire decal
- If the water isn’t room temp it can ruin the decal by becoming gummy
I recommended (when possible) making decals in advance to keep on hand and ready to apply when needed.
Unlock 1,000’s of Graphics & more with CanvaPro!** – I have created over 5.000 designs using Canva, it is very user-friendly and offers unlimited design options!
Printing Instructions for Custom Waterslide Decals
- PRINT – You will want to print onto the SHINY SIDE of the paper using an inkjet printer
(find out first which way you will need to lay your paper inside of your tray in order for it to print on the shiny side)
- Spray with 3 coats of clear sealer (or one coat of TRIPLE SPRAY GLAZE by Krylon)
- Cut around your image leaving 2-3mm of spacing
- Soak in room temp water. Submerge your decal for 30-60 seconds or until the middle of the decal can easily be slid around. Remove from water.
- Apply & position your decal onto the surface. Remove any bubbles with a clean cloth.
Using Custom Waterslide Decals
I love applying waterslide decal transfers to thrifted finds or trash to treasure items but you can apply them to new items, too! In the video, I applied decals to 8 items, but in this post, I picked my four favorite projects to share with you!
Upcycled Ceramic Bowl Project
I purchased a set of 3 ceramic bowls at the thrift store, I believe I paid $1 each. You will see in my Garden Collab video in mid-June, the FINAL transformation of this bowl. Step one was to add this Vintage Lavender Ad to the front of the bowl.
Repurposed Glass Bottle Projects
Once your waterslide decals have been sealed, it only takes a couple of minutes to apply to your item! It is a fast and easy way to transform a thrifted piece or discarded item.
Video Tutorial for Custom Waterslide Decals
Repurposed Instapot Insert Project
I was so sad when my Instapot lid fell apart and broke. I was an incredible find for $5 last summer at a yard sale & I definitely got my money’s worth! I don’t like adding anything to the landfill that can be repurposed & was happy at how this piece turned out.
I applied one coat of Rustoleum spray paint in Matte White and then applied this distressed vintage ad as a decal, The french ad came from Thegrahicsfairy.com and I added the “cracks” (element) over on Canva.com.
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How do I Seal my Custom Waterslide Decals?
I use the spray sealer from Rustoleum both to seal in the ink on the decal prior to application and over the finished project for extra durability. I tried Krylon Triple Glaze spray for the first time with these projects and LOVED IT! One spray equals three coats of the other spray sealers.
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Friends, I want to thank you so much for joining me today! I hope this post inspired you to make your own transfers using Waterslide Decals! Let me know if you have any questions. What do you think about the waterslide decal transfers? Have you tried them or will you be giving them a try soon?
Shop this Post & My Favorite Products:
- DEWALT 20V MAX Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch, Cordless Kit
- Reynold’s Freezer Paper – (for printable transfers)
- DAS Air Dry Clay (white clay) OR (terra cotta clay) OR (stone-colored clay)
- *Gesso Surface Prep Medium, 16-oz, White
- Rice Paper (for decoupage) – This is the exact paper and seller I purchase from
- ON AMAZON Hayes *Waterslide Decal Paper for Inkjet Printer and Waterslide Decal for Laser Printer OR
- Waterslide Decals, Sublimination Paper, or Heat Transfer Paper Directly from Hayes Paper Company –
- E6000 glue – https://amzn.to/329hrZe
- *HP INKJET Printer (my HP model is no longer made but this is similar) – Basic, easy to use
- Wax & Chalkpaint Brush – https://amzn.to/3kiZ5dQ
- Polycrylic Sealer by Minwax (Brush on)
- Water-Based Poly Sealer by Varathane (Brush on)
- 10 pcs Wooden Knobs (feet or toppers) – https://amzn.to/3ruQd9a
- Lavender (faux) is AMAZING for the price
- Oil-based Paint Marker by Sharpie (set of 3)
- Krylon Triple Glaze Spray
- Mod Podge – 32 oz. Matte Finish – Gloss Finish – Dishwasher Safe Finish
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