How to Screen Print on Wood | 7 Step Guide (2024)

The process of screen printing on wood is similar to that of printing on polyester, denim, and other materials.  It is a process of creating unique and interesting designs on the wood surface using ink and stencil named a screen.

A variety of applications can be completed, such as creating custom designs, office, and home decor, and much more. The process is relatively simple with minimal equipment and materials.

It is crucial to choose Specially formulated ink to be used on wood, as regular screen printing may not work properly. Also, keep in mind to use a low-tack adhesive stencil to avoid any kind of damage to the wood surface.

Which Ink Do We Need to Screen Print on Wood?

As mentioned above, specially formulated inks are prepared to adhere well to the wood surface. These types of inks dry properly without cracking or fading.

We can divide ink type into two categories:

  • Water-Based Inks
  • Oil Based Inks

Water-based inks are considered more suitable for printing on wood surfaces with less or no chance of damage to the wood surface. Another important aspect of using water-based inks is relatively eco-friendly and is less toxic.  Residues of water-based inks can be cleaned easily.

On the other hand, oil-based inks are durable as compared to water-based inks. They are fading resistant and need a solvent to clean up the residues. Oil-based inks take more time to dry making it hard to get the specified print. No doubt some inks may work better on certain types of wood, but overall it is recommended to test the ink on a small patch of wood.

Instructions by the manufacturer should be followed carefully while using both types of inks.

Related: Screen Printing on Nylon

Can We Print in Special Wood Only?

On the base of experience, one can make a selection of the best suitable wood for screen printing. Yet it is advisable to use a wood surface that is relatively smooth and has less resistance.

It is important to note that some types of wood may require additional preparation before starting screen printing to check the ink works properly. The following types of wood can be easily screen printed on:

  • Softwoods like Pine and Cedar
  • Hardwoods such as Oak and Cherry
  • Bamboo

Decide screen printing on the wood of which the surface is fine not a coarse one. Because some wood grains are deep and can make it difficult to be better receptive to ink.

How to Screen Print on Wood? (Step-By-Step Guide)

Generally, the process of screen printing on wood is completed in seven to eight easy steps. Let’s take a look at the equipment supplies you will need:

  • Finished Wood
  • Sandpaper
  • Mesh Screen
  • Paint Brushes
  • Ink/ Water-Based
  • Newspaper
  • Squeegee
  • Screen Filler
  • Newspaper

Gather the material and start screen printing following these easy steps:

Step -1

Preparing the wood surface is crucial to remove any roughness or imperfection on the wood surface. Clean the surface with a cloth to remove the dust and dirt particles.


Step 2 is related to creating the stencil of the design which you want to print. Prepare the design by using materials such as vinyl, stencil film, or emulsion.


Moving forward, apply a thin layer of in or paint to the stencil using a squeegee. Make sure the stencil is evenly coated with ink. Wait until the paint or ink gets dry properly.


Place the lengthy newspaper or rough papers on the table. Spread them properly so that the ink may not stain the table.


Carefully transfer the stencil to the wood surface. Perfectly align it to the desired measurement.


Now it’s time to start screen printing properly. Pick the squeegee to press the ink or paint through the stencil and onto the whole surface. Press the ink so firmly that the design may be well transferred onto the surface. 


Remove the stencils carefully from the wood surface. Allow the surface to dry completely before handling the wood. Also, avoid applying any additional layers until it becomes dry.

The last thing you have to do is to clean the residues with a soft and gentle piece of cloth so that it doesn’t damage the design. The procedure of screen printing on wood is completed now.

Can You Screen Print on Stained Wood?

Screen printing on stained wood can challenging as compared to smooth wood. The reason is that the ink may not adhere perfectly to the wood’s surface.

Also, the stain may damage the color of the ink. If the matter is of printing a small area of the wood, it may look good. But to print larger areas of wood, cannot work well. I shall recommend you use water-based ink.

How Can You Get Better Screen Printing on Wood?

Multiple ideas can be joined together to get better screen printing on wood.

Placing the off-contact screen

My first recommendation is to place the printing screen off contact with the surface of the wood. It must not touch the surface so there must be no chance of smudging and smearing of ink on the wood.

As you know the print head is usually elevated above the wood surface, ink is printed onto the wood through the stencil on the screen. In addition to this, when you use the off-contact technique, it reduces the absorption of ink into the wood. It helps to retain a vibrant look.

Preparation of ink for printing

Normally preparation for raw printing is much easy, but preparing suitable ink for effective printing may be a little bit technical. Ink should be stirred and shaken well, settling every pigment or particle lying in the bottom.

The thickness of the ink should be perfect to adjust the porous screen. Sometimes the ink is so dilute to spread on the wood and is not absorbed up to the mark.

So it is recommended to take more ink and lesser solvent to attain better print.

Selection of proper wood for printing

Before starting the process of screen printing there are some common factors we should keep in mind to create a better design. These factors include smoothness and stability in wood. Some hardwoods like maple, birch, and cherry can easily be picked up for screen printing.

Some woods are more porous and screen printing on them results in a damaged design or a failure. Another important thing is that the wood should properly and completely dry, so that the risk of warping and cracking may vanish.


Screen printing on wood is one of the artworks, where you can create custom designs and unique applications. It is a durable and lovely form of art and architecture. If you can get high-quality material, then you are bound to succeed in the completion of the work.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can we screen print with acrylic paint on wood?

Acrylic paint uses water-based ink, that’s why there is no hurdle to using it in screen printing. It dries easily and is very versatile for its suitable nature for different surfaces.

Does the machine accomplish screen printing better?

No doubt machine printing is more efficient and precise than hand printing. It is cost-effective if you are planning to screen print on commercial bases. It can regularly help you out in printing in the future. But if you have some aesthetic sense, machine printing cannot provide the organic designs of your choice.

What is the best mesh count for screen printing on wood?

200-230 Mesh – Most commonly used for high detail artwork. Also great for printing with water based inks on wood or paper. 280-305 Mesh – Used for super fine detail artwork, half tones, CMYK process printing, as well as solvent and water base inks

Can you use fabric screen printing ink on wood?

You can screen print on wood! I still use Speedball ink but instead of fabric ink, I use acrylic ink for wood surfaces

What ink works best on wood?

Versacraft is formulated for a variety of surfaces like woods, fabrics, and other non-porous surfaces. Versacraft is the one you want if you’d like to stamp on wood slices or other similar projects.

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