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How to Apply and Seal an IOD Décor Transfer

Vonda Youngkin |

 How to Apply and Seal IOD Décor Transfers
(Updated 2/16/2020 with latest IOD Recommendations!)

For the most up-to-date information, join the Iron Orchid Designs Creative Tribe Facebook Group at for shared projects and ideas, recommendations and suggestions, and the latest tips and techniques.

Click here to download printable instructions in Adobe .PDF format (top-coat testing not included).

  This is a guide to help, and does not cover every possible application solution for every surface type, brand and paint type, various sealers, as well the surface prep of your intended piece.  Therefore, due to these and other variables, The Painted Heirloom is not responsible for failed applications of IOD Transfers. If you are unsure your IOD Transfer will properly adhere to your piece, please use the Contact Form, or join the Iron Orchid Designs Creative Tribe Facebook Group at for the latest recommendations.  There's always other stockists and members there to help!

Our IOD Décor Transfers™, and our new IOD Paintable Decor Transfers, are designed in scale and motif to be appropriate for decor. Use them to add a unique touch to your furniture projects, wall art or accessories. Pressure sensitive, you apply them by rubbing them onto the surface. Ensure a long lasting result by sealing with a quality sealer. We've made many of our new Décor Transfers™ "buildable," by adding opacity, (so that they look good when they overlap) and making the designs themselves more versatile, so that they work visually, when used in combination. Since the designs are more opaque than previous versions, they will show up well against dark colors as well as light. See our IOD Tutorial page for more information about Stamps, Transfers, and Moulds!  

IOD Décor Transfers are a little delicate, need a little extra care, but are so worth it. With a little instruction, they are easy to use and add instant style to your projects. (Make sure to check out our new White Transfers for a beautiful design on your deeper richer colors! )

How to apply IOD Décor Transfer Guide.  Start by reading the instructions on the IOD Transfer Tube! 😊 

There are many fabulous paint and coating brands designed for furniture and décor use that it’s not possible to address or formulate specifically for all of them when it comes to IOD Décor Transfer application. Don’t let this short list scare you from trying an awesome IOD Décor Transfer.  These instructions are written in attempt to cover “all bases” for “all paint types.”

The quick list of tips (read on if you have more questions):

  1. DO allow paint & sealer to completely dry before applying transfer – 72 hours minimum.
  2. Do NOT apply transfer on top of any wax.
  3. DO apply a liquid sealer, as a base, to a piece that has been painted without a built-in topcoat, such as chalk-paint, prior to transfer application.
  4. After applying transfer, DO a thorough burnishing with a clean dry soft cloth and in circular motion with increasing pressure.
  5. DO seal the applied transfer with a liquid sealer, preferably the same sealer as in step 3. (But, never use Gator Hide by Dixie Belle when working with IOD Transfers – many reports of Gator Hide caused failures.)

Expanded Instructions.  Below is an expanded detailed explanation of the steps above.  We find these tips helpful to ensure a good bond and maximize compatibility on your projects.

General transfer tips.  Do not store IOD Décor Transfer in extreme temperatures or humid conditions, which can affect adhesion.  Keep your transfer with its backing sheet until you are ready to apply. Keep free of dust or debris, which will interfere with adhesion. Do not allow the adhesive side of transfer to touch anything prior to application. When handling the transfer, avoid letting the adhesive side touch itself (don’t do in a windy environment).


Dry time vs. Cure Time.  Dry time is the recommended length of time between coats of product, often called recoat time, and cure time is the length of time recommended before subjecting your finished project to daily use. The generally accepted average curing times for water-based products is 21 days, and 30 days for oil-based products - based on a recommended 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) and 70% humidity.  You can use a piece lightly after about 7 days, but be cautious as the finish will still be curing for another 2 to 3 weeks.  Different paints will have different drying and curing times, and temperature and humidity affect drying and curing.  Cooler temperatures (think inside or winter outside) and high humidity levels (outside, summer) can prolong a paint’s drying time.  You can tell if a water-based product is dry by touching it - if it is cool to the touch, it's NOT dry. If you can sand a water-based topcoat to a powder, it IS dry.  There are two ways to tell if it is an oil-based product is dry - if it is no longer tacky and it doesn't smell, it is dry.

Allow Adequate Drying Time.  Prior to IOD Décor Transfer application, IOD recommends a drying time of at least 24 hours, with a fan on low to create air movement and hasten any residual moisture and gas evaporation.  I recommend a minimum of 72 hours.  Generally, the longer the better.  I can’t stress this enough.  Think about this – you’re applying a paper-like material on top of a painted surface, that was once wet, containing water, other moistures, and possibly Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. Their high vapor pressure results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate and enter the surrounding air.) Because the moisture, gases, vapors, and VOCs will want to evaporate from your piece, they, for the most part, should be absent from your piece before applying the transfer.

WAX then TRANSFER = BAD!  Never EVER apply an IOD Transfer to a piece that has been finished with any type of wax.  It is recommended you remove the wax completely, per wax manufacturer instructions, before applying the transfer.


NOTE:  The Iron Orchid Designs company strongly recommends applying a base sealer, to every paint type, prior to applying their IOD Decor Transfers to any painted surface.

Applying to Glass.  If you are applying an IOD Transfer to glass or a mirror, a base coat nor top sealer is required or recommended.  The Transfer will adhere to glass very well without the need of a sealer.  Further, a sealer will only cloud your glass or mirror.  Again, do not use a base or top coat sealer on glass.

Applying the base sealer.  If you are applying a base sealer prior to IOD Décor Transfer application, always make sure that the paint has had time to dry thoroughly before applying a base sealer coat, and then allow that sealer coat to dry thoroughly before applying the transfer.

Regardless of paint type, you should seek out and follow the guidelines of your paint retailer or manufacturer.

I have used the following water-based sealers with very good results:

  1. Tough Coat Matte Wipe-on Poly by Fusion Mineral Paint
  2. High Performance Satin by General Finishes
  3. Polycrylic by Minwax

IOD frequently uses General Finishes Exterior 450 Flat.  It's important to note that IOD Transfers were designed to be used inside.

I would not recommend General Finishes Flat Out Flat as a baste coat sealer (before you apply the transfer), as General Finishes Representative informed me that it contains wax, which is a resist.

Fusion Mineral Paint.  Because Fusion Mineral Paint has a built-in topcoat, it is less porous, so it generally does not require a liquid sealer prior to applying the transfer, provided you allow adequate drying time of 72 hours minimum, 7 days recommended. This time, as mentioned above, can fluctuate based on the ambient conditions.  If you would feel more comfortable applying a sealer to Fusion Mineral Paint before the transfer, you can use Fusion’s Tough Coat Matte Wipe-on Poly for lighter colors, or Fusion’s Stain & Finishing Oil All-in-One in Natural for darker colors.  Fusion’s Tough Coat is a quality matte sealer, but can cause streaking on darker colors.  If you choose to use on darker colors, which I have, just ensure the paint has had adequate time to dry, and apply the Tough Coat in a thin and even coat.

NEW!  See my test with Fusion Mineral Paint and popular sealers below!

Chalk-Paint & Paints without built-in topcoat. When using chalk paints and mineral type paints without a “built-in topcoat,” sealing with a liquid topcoat over the paint can increase the bond of transfer to surface. It reduces the porosity of the surface and increases adhesion of transfer. IOD has found that General Finishes 450, a water based liquid topcoat, has a high compatibility with other brands, and is a great option. You should check with your paint manufacturer for sealer compatibility. Never use Gator Hide by Dixie Belle with IOD Transfers.


Remember to starting with a clean, dry, matte surface.  Appropriate prep of a piece prior to painting is always recommended.  If you have sanded the paint, make certain there is no residual dust.  Any residue that is left behind can possibly cause contamination and adhesion problems between paint and substrate, as well as transfer and paint.  All of these things will interfere with adhesion.

Carefully remove the transfer from its white backing. Slowly and carefully lower the transfer onto your intended surface, making sure that it does not touch until the placement is correct. Use small pieces of low tack tape to hold it in place.

Using the provided tool, start at one end of the transfer and rub firmly to adhere the image to the surface. Do this until the entire image is transferred.

If any parts aren’t transferred when you lift, simply lay it back down and rub more on that portion.

Burnishing. This step is really important! After the transfer is down securely, with a clean dry hand, smooth down any bits that aren’t flatly adhered, such as all edges and wrinkles down, then do a thorough burnishing by taking a clean dry soft cloth, and in circular motion with increasing pressure, buff until the transfer is really adhered down well.


Final Sealing. Ensure a long-lasting result by sealing with a quality sealer. IOD recommend ssealing with a water based (or not harsh solvent based) sealer (waxes created for chalk type paints also work well if they don’t contain harsh solvents).  Generally, if you used a sealer prior to applying the transfer, you should use that same sealer to finish your project. When applying sealer coats, remember “thin to win.’ Applying thin coats is preferable to thick coats.

If you did not use a base sealer before applying the transfer, you may finish light use projects with wax such as Fusion’s Hemp Beeswax.  For heavy use projects (drawers, table tops) you can use Fusion’s Tough Coat Matte Wipe-on Poly (for lighter colors), Minwax Polycrylic, Zinsser’s SealCoat, or Fusion’s NATURAL Stain & Finishing Oil All-in-One (for darker colors).


Once in a while, a transfer may peel from the piece. With the high number of variables involved (type of paint, sealer, surface condition, weather, application, etc) there is room for the occasional failure to occur. If this happens, it can usually be repaired by using something to gently, every so delicately re-adhere the peeled bits down. Contact the stockist whom you purchased from and together we can help fix the peelies, and adjust for the next project.


I truly believe the IOD Transfers that have been reported to fail, were due to lack of proper preparation of their intended piece.  They either did not prepare their piece properly before painting, or, used a chalk paint and didn’t apply a sealer, or they applied the transfer too early after painting.  I have had no IOD Decor Transfer failures.  Remember, it is IOD's Official position that a base sealer should be applied prior using an IOD Transfer on any painted surface - regardless of past successes to the contrary.  If you are unsure about anything at all, stop!  Contact me, or watch videos on the Iron Orchid Designs Creative Tribe at and YouTube.

Hope this has helped!  ~Vonda Youngkin from The Painted Heirloom -



On June 1, 2019, I painted five pieces of wood cut from a piece of plywood.  3 of the pieces, I painted Casement Fusion Mineral Paint (white) on the top half, and Midnight Blue Fusion Mineral Paint on the bottom half.  2 of the boards I painted in Lamp White Fusion Mineral Paint.

Casement Fusion Mineral Paint Set @ The Painted HeirloomMidnight Blue Fusion Mineral Paint @ The Painted HeirloomLamp White Fusion Mineral Paint @ The Painted Heirloom

Mostly due to life, I wasn't able to apply the base sealers until June 27, 2019.  When I did apply the base sealer, I followed the each manufacturer directions.  As you can see in the picture below, I used synthetic chip brushes and a foam brush to apply the base sealer.

On June 29, 2019, two days after I applied each base sealer, I very lightly sanded each board with a fine sanding pad and then wiped off. I then applied portions of IOD Decor Transfers (2nd Generation) to each board.  After I applied the transfers, I burnished the transfers well.  I then sealed each board and IOD Transfer with the same base sealer I used on June 29.  I then took this picture:

Test of Sealers with IOD Transfers on Fusion Mineral Paint(Picture taken June 29, 2019)

 The sealers I tested were

  1. Tough Coat Matte Wipe-on Poly by Fusion Mineral Paint (water based)
  2. Natural Stain and Finishing Oil by Fusion Mineral Paint (not pictured above)
  3. High Performance Satin by General Finishes (water based)
  4. Polycrylic by MinWax (water based)
  5. Bulls Eye SealCoat by Zinssers (100% Wax Free Shellac)

Right away, I could feel the difference in the ease of adherence. The Zinsser SealCoat really grabbed the transfer, but it did give a slight yellowing effect to the Lamp White.  I would not recommend SealCoat if you wanted to keep the pure white look.  The other transfers all came off the backing just fine, but it was quite a noticeable difference.

Fusion's Tough Coat Matte Wipe-on Poly was the best at maintaining the richness of the Fusion colors, and resulted in an expected matte finish. Although Fusion recommends not using Tough Coat on their darker colors due to clouding, surprisingly, it did not affect the Midnight Blue.

The Minwax Polycrylic was probably the next best at retaining the whiteness of the Casement and the darkness of the Midnight Blue.  It did seem to make the Midnight Blue appear darker.  As expected, the end result was a satin finish.

The High Performance Satin by General Finishes did only ever so slightly yellow the Casement, but the Midnight Blue remained dark.  Again, the end result was an expected satin finish.

I also did a board with Fusion's Stain and Finishing Oil (SFO) in Natural just over Lamp White.  I did this mostly to test the SFO as a sealer.  SFO is never recommended over light colors, such as Lamp White.  The end result was expected streaky yellowing.

The boards remained in my house (70°-73° F) house until August 5, 2019, at which point they moved to my shaded back board just outside of Pensacola, Florida.  They remained on my back porch, for the next 3 months.  August average temperature was 90°, with a high of 98°.  September average was 93°, with  high of 99°. October averaged 74° with a high of 96°. In addition to the heat, it is very humid in my area, with storms almost daily during the summer time.  While the boards did not receive directly sunlight or rain, they definitely experienced heat and moisture.

The boards then moved to my garage, where it was still warm, on October 26, 2019. The average temperature in November was 58° with a low of 46°, December was 57° with a low of 34°, and January average temps were 53°, the a low of 33°.

The pictures below were taken February 16, 2020.  My apologies for the lighting.  As you can see, they've retained the IOD Transfers with no peeling or failures, and also retained their colors.

Tough Coat Matte Wipe-on Poly (retained color richness, matte finish):

Fusion Mineral Paint Tough Coat Wipe-on Poly on IOD Decor Transfer by Iron Orchid Designs


Minwax Polycrylic (retained color richness, satin finish) 

Minwax Polycrilic Water Based Sealer on IOD Decor Transfer by Iron Orchid Designs


High Performance Satin by General Finishes (slightly yellowing of the Casement, but the Midnight Blue remained dark, stain finish):

General Finishes High Performance Satin on IOD Decor Transfer by Iron Orchid Designs


Zinsser SealCoat (light yellowing effect to the Lamp White, satin finish):

ZINSSER SealCoat Universal Sanding Sealer on IOD Decor Transfer by Iron Orchid Designs


    Final Thoughts.  I actually was surprised to see Fusion's Tough Coat held true colors the best.  Months ago, I thought the Minwax Polycrilic had the richer colors and was the clear winner (if you wanted a satin sheen), but it wasn't until I broke out my paint sticks (that have no sealer) to take the above pictures on 2/16/2020 that this wasn't the case. Normally it is not recommended to use Tough Coat on darker colors, due to possible water vapor being trapped, which could cause streaking or clouding. It is possible that because I waited nearly 3 weeks between paint and using Tough Coat, that the painted had completely cured, and most of the moisture had escaped the paint. I have seen no clouding on the Midnight Blue, but it could cloud darker paints like Coal Black.  Your mileage may vary.  Also, since all this testing, Fusion has released a new Glossy Clear Tough Coat Wipe-On Poly.  I'd expect to see similar results as the Matt version, but with an obvious satin sheen finish.  The Minwax Polycrilic would be a good alternative.  I did notice some brush strokes, but that could have been my unintended poor technique of application.  I had high hopes for the General Finishes High Performance Satin, but it slightly yellowed the Casement, while making the Midnight Blue Darker.  The Zinsser SealCoat also yellowed the Picket Fence.

    When in doubt, contact your paint stockist, or paint manufacturer, and ask their sealer recommendation! Remeber, it is IOD's Official position that a base sealer should be applied prior using an IOD Transfer on any painted surface - regardless of past successes to the contrary.

    Contact me, or watch videos on the Iron Orchid Designs Creative Tribe at and YouTube.


    How to apply and seal an IOD Transfer by Iron Orchid Designs