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How to Seal Vinyl on Wood [Signs, Cutting Boards, and More]

Creating a beautiful craft project with wood and vinyl decals is super fun and the end results can be incredibly impressive. But have you ever wondered if you could get just a slightly better finish on your project? Or experienced the awful moment when you notice the edge of your decal is peeling off when the project is still only weeks old?

Vinyl transfers are, at the end of the day, a type of sticker. We wouldn’t expect a normal sticker to stay perfectly in place through wind and snow, and we can’t fully expect it from a vinyl decal, either. But luckily, there is a technique we can use to help the decal look as good and last as long as possible: sealing.

Sealing vinyl decals onto wood is a fairly intuitive process. It involves applying a top coat over the transfer once it has been applied and rested. This sealant will of course be transparent so we can still see our lovely designs, and one or two coats can be applied where necessary. By doing this, we are essentially creating a protective layer over our decal to shield it from the world around it, and maybe even make it look even better in the process!

There are various things to consider when sealing vinyl onto your wooden craft projects such as the type of sealant and the number of coats.

You may not know anything about the sealing process right now, but by the time you get to the end of this article, you will know exactly what you need to do to get the best results in every crafting situation!

Why You Need to Seal Vinyl Decals on Wood?

Sealing permanent vinyl on wood is the best way to make your decals stick decently and stay beautiful for a long time. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of sealing vinyl on your project.


Vinyl stickers (otherwise known as vinyl transfers or decals) are designs cut from a sheet of adhesive vinyl that we transfer onto our desired surface. You may just apply a little pressure to apply your decal, or you might use heat through a heat press. Either way, it’s a sticker. And no matter how heavy duty a sticker might be, it can and will come off eventually! 

The reason you should seal regular vinyl decals onto your wood-based projects is to help prevent that sticker from coming off.

The harsher the environment your craft projects are exposed to, the more they need to be protected from, and wood projects are often outside projects. A good example of that is adhesive vinyl lettering or vinyl graphics on wood signs. As a wooden sign with vinyl letters or another type of stained wood vinyl project is always exposed to the elements, this makes using a sealant—be it a spray sealer or another type—all the more crucial.

Related Read: How to Make Vinyl Decals at Home


Aside from the edges peeling off, without a topcoat, the surface of the decal can also be damaged by sharp objects and direct contact. With a topcoat, the sealant will take the brunt of the damage, and damaging a transparent layer is a lot less noticeable than scratching a decal. 

Sealants will also protect your decal from water and light. The sun’s rays won’t be able to fade the color as easily, and water won’t be able to reach it and corrode the adhesive. Using a base coat of spray adhesive vinyl on wood and then adding a top coat will make vinyl stick decently to the surface easier for a much longer time.


Additionally, adding a smooth, water-resistant base coat and then topcoat over your project creates a surface that is incredibly easy to wipe clean. This is extremely useful when it comes to wood, as untreated wood can stain very easily and your only option to remove the damage would be to sand that top layer away. Therefore, applying vinyl on wood to seal craft projects pays off not just in terms of durability but also in day-to-day maintenance.


Lastly, depending on your tastes and your aims for the project in question, sealing your vinyl transfer could actually improve how it looks! Thanks to the different types of sealant available (and we’ll take a good look at them later), you could make a matte surface shiny, give a shiny surface a matte finish, or even add a layer of glittery goodness

There’s no limit to the type of permanent vinyl this can be done to: you can apply vinyl sealant to all types of vinyl, be it heat transfer vinyl, iron on vinyl, printable vinyl, or Cricut vinyl.

And it’s not just that—adding the topcoat can help minimize the ‘stuck on’ look of your decal. The edges of the sticker will become less pronounced, meaning it will both look and feel smoother and more uniform. Vinyl graphics tend to look best when covered by a clear coating that also makes sure the vinyl will stick properly.

Now that we’ve covered the advantages of sealing vinyl, let’s look at a few specific use cases and the different priorities you might need to consider depending on your project. 

How to Seal Vinyl on a Wood Cutting Board

A wooden cutting board is the perfect thing to add a decal to! Who wouldn’t get enjoyment out of a cute design while chopping veggies? But if we want our enjoyment to last, we need to make sure what we’re cutting on is safe. You already know our number one tip: when you add vinyl, add a base coat of sealant, and then top it off with a second coat!

The main thing to consider with this use case, and any other that involves food, is that some sealants should not be going near your mouth. The first thing you might be able to do to deal with this problem is to avoid using sealant in certain places. If your decal is small and on the edge of your cutting board, you could apply a topcoat over only that area, and leave the main cutting area alone.

Alternatively, if your decal is big and placed exactly where you will be chopping food items, you will need to use an FDA-approved food-safe sealant.

A second thing to consider is the amount of less-than-gentle usage that decal will be subjected to. If a knife is going to be applying pressure to your decal on a regular basis, a thin coat of topcoat may not be enough to keep it safe. 

Luckily, adding more layers is an easy fix! All you need to do is wait for the previous clear coat to dry, and then you can go ahead and apply another. Adding a second coat will give your project extra longevity.

How to Seal Vinyl on a Wood Sign

Wood signs are yet another example of the perfect vinyl craft project. Whether you want to advertise your home cafe with a set of gorgeous iron on vinyl letters, label your vegetable patch, paint wood signs for fun, or create a warming ‘home sweet home’ sign for your own enjoyment, a pretty piece of stained wood and a pretty decal can do the job. 

This time, you don’t need to worry about the sealant being food-safe, but you do need to think about the weather your sign will be exposed to. Whether your sign is made out of stained wood, painted wood covered with clearcoat paint, or even unfinished wood, the universal rule is that wood doesn’t love being outdoors.

There could be wind, there could be rain, there could even be snow. But it’s okay, because there are sealants designed specifically for outdoor use! Such options often resemble spray paint and help make your project permanent. Vinyl will stick to acrylic paint and unfinished wood alike when treated with some polyurethane polyacrylic spray or another form of spray sealant.

Make your vinyl stick a bit easier by simply picking a spray adhesive of your choice, such as this one from Amazon, and applying several coats until you’re satisfied. One tip: always make sure to let the coat dry before you go on to apply the next one. 

How to Seal Vinyl on Wood Coasters

Up next are wooden coasters for your cups and mugs. So what do you need to protect a coaster from? Not much really, other than a small amount of water. 

Just about every sealant provides water resistance for a project, and since a coaster is a small indoor object, we likely only need a basic sealant here.

These are sealants that you can find plenty of on Amazon, and will probably apply with a brush. If you’re looking for some of the best brands, we recommend Mod Podge (also known as modge podge) or Triple Thick.

How to Seal Vinyl on Wood Ornaments

A wood ornament could be any size and shape, which means you want a sealant that will be easy to apply to non-flat surfaces. Some use-cases for this type of vinyl sealing involve making custom photo canvases or photo frames.

Your wood ornaments exist only to look good, which means you want to focus on the quality of finish when sealing them. Several types of sealant will do the trick, and we’ll go over them below.

5 Best Vinyl Sealers For Wood Reviews

As there are so many kinds of permanent vinyl sealants on the market, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the selection. Let’s go over some of the best ones which are generally safe and a bit easier to use than the competition.

Epoxy resin

Clear Table Top Epoxy Resin That Self Levels, This is a 2 Gallon High Gloss (1 Gallon Resin + 1 Gallon Hardener) Kit That’s UV Resistant – It’s DIYER & Pro Preferred with Minimal Bubbles
  • Professional level, high-gloss finishes
  • FDA approved and dishwasher-safe
  • Easy to apply and easy to get good results
  • A little bit expensive and some effort to prepare

Even if you’re unfamiliar with sealants you may have heard of epoxy resin. It’s used for all sorts of crafts, from jewelry to dioramas.

It’s considered to be a high-quality sealant and is especially known for its even, high gloss finishes. And you don’t have to be an expert to get that kind of finish—this sealant is extremely good at evening itself out and giving a good end result. It can also be applied with your hands (as long as you’re wearing rubber gloves), which makes it perfect for getting into all the nooks and crannies on irregularly shaped items.

However, with great quality comes high prices! Not only is this the most expensive of the sealants on our list, you likely won’t be able to use it all effectively. Epoxy resin is prepared by mixing two liquids, and once they’ve touched they will begin to harden. You’ll have enough time to apply it to your project, of course, but it will harden after that and cannot be used again. Some brands also have to be mixed continuously for 10 minutes!

Epoxy resin is also the FDA-approved sealant we mentioned earlier, and it is also dishwasher-safe. Lastly, it only takes around 72 hours to fully cure (i.e to finish drying and become ready for use). 

Mod Podge

Mod Podge Gloss Waterbase Sealer, Glue (16-Ounce), CS11202 Finish, 16 oz
  • Very cheap, very accessible
  • Multiple varieties
  • Good for use on indoor objects
  • Takes 28 days to fully cure

Let’s go from the most expensive to the least. Mod Podge, also known as modge podge, is one of the basic sealant brands, and it is super popular. You can find it on Amazon in many varieties, including matte, shiny, and glitter finishes. You can also buy dishwasher-safe Mod Podge.

This sealant is great for indoor objects and casual craft projects. It’s not going to give you the ultimate protection, and you might be left with a few brush marks, but it will do the job.

It will come in a tub and be applied with a paint brush, although you can use a sponge brush to try and minimize brush marks. This decoupage sealant is also non-toxic and totally safe to use in projects with older kids. 

One thing to note about Mod Podge is that it takes 28 days to fully cure, and it is recommended that your project be completely left alone and not touched during that time. 

Triple Thick

2-Pack Bundle - DecoArt Triple Thick Gloss Glaze (Jar) - 8-Ounces Each
  • Cheap and accessible
  • Fairly dishwasher-safe and offers great protection
  • Comparatively low cure time
  • Mostly thick layers can be applied

This next one is very similar to Mod Podge. You’ll find it in the same places and use it for many of the same things. The two main differences are the thickness of the mixture, and the amount of time it takes to cure. Triple Thick can be lightly used after 48 hours and will fully cure in 7 days.

Triple Thick is, as it says on the box, a very thick sealant. This is great when you want a thick topcoat, say to cover the texture of glitter or protect as best you could from water. In fact, due to its thickness, many people trust Triple Thick more than Mod Podge when it comes to making a project dishwasher-safe.

Due to its viscosity, Triple Thick can only be applied in thick layers, and this will be unsuitable for some projects. It can also leave behind a bit of oily residue if you don’t strive to apply thin coat after coat as opposed to one thick coat over your vinyl stickers.

Polycrylic (Krylon)

Krylon K01305 Gallery Series Artist and Clear Coatings Aerosol, 11-Ounce, UV-Resistant Clear Gloss
  • Convenient spray form
  • Short cure time
  • Many coats may have to be added due to thin layers

This sealant usually comes in spray form and is also considered to be a basic ‘general use’ sealant. It’s produced by several brands, but one of the ones that stands out is Krylon.

It is often used as a varnish for painted wood and is often also used to pretreat wood before the vinyl transfer is applied. That makes it particularly convenient for wood projects, as you may use it at multiple stages.

It’s a water-based formula and is usually used for indoor purposes. Its spray form makes it really quick and easy to apply a coat, but it will be very thin.

This means that you may have to spend a lot of time waiting for layers to dry and adding more and more coats. The average cure time for a limited number of thin coats is 72 hours.

Polyurethane (3M Marine)

3M Marine Adhesive Sealant Fast Cure 5200 (06535) Permanent Bonding and Sealing for Boats and RVs Above and Below the Waterline Waterproof Repair, White, 1 fl oz Tube
  • Convenient spray form or easy to use tub
  • Heavy-duty protection from the weather
  • Dries with a yellow tint

This last sealant is very similar to polycrylic. In fact, it’s basically an outdoor version and rather than being water-based, it’s oil-based.

You can often find this type of sealant in small tubs like super glue. One of the most recognized brands that produces polyurethane vinyl sealant is 3M Marine.

It also comes in a can like spray paint, and do be careful to not mix the two up. Polycrylic is not strong enough to protect clearcoat paint from the weather, and polyurethane can dry with a yellow tint, so it isn’t ideal for pretty indoor projects. It can also leave an oily residue.

It has the same cure time as polycrylic, and is great for protecting large outdoor projects. It works on acrylic paint, all manner of painted wood, and most types of wood in general.


You now know what sealants are out there, what they do, and what benefits they can bring to your wooden vinyl projects.

Whether you need to prioritize heavy-duty protection, food safety, or a perfect glossy finish, there’s a sealant for the job. And as for how to use them—just brush, spray, or hand-apply as many layers as you choose and wait for the project to dry and cure.

That’s perhaps the toughest part—staying patient while you wait to use your beautiful new crafts.

It’s an extra step in the process but it’s well worth it to help extend the life of your vinyl decal as much as possible. Happy crafting!

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Last update on 2022-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Disclaimer

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