How To Print On Ceramic Mugs At Home

Over the last several years printing on ceramic mugs has gained immense popularity. You can print your favorite quote or photo to keep as a souvenir or use it for drinking your coffee. And if you know how to print on ceramic mugs at home, the whole activity will get much more exciting.

You can print on ceramic mugs at home using two methods. One is where you print the photo and use an electric iron to print it on the mug. And the other method is where you use a heat press to do the job.

How To Print On Ceramic Mugs At Home

Both of these printing methods are interesting and relatively easy. You only need to follow a few simple steps to do it. Today, I have discussed the processes in the way I tried them and got satisfying results. And I believe it will help you print your mugs at home.

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Which Types Of Printing Methods Are Possible On Ceramic Mugs?

Printing on mugs is the new way of exchanging love and affection. While you may think it is only for birthday parties or special moments, printed mugs are also popular in workplaces.

Companies or brands print their logos and mottos on the mug and give them to their employees. And if you know how to print on ceramic mugs at home, you don’t have to go through the extra hassle of running to the store. Here are some methods that you can use to print on ceramic mugs.

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Direct Screen Printing

If you want simple designs on your ceramic mugs, direct screen printing is an ideal choice. It is suitable for smaller designs and cost-effective.

This printing method includes multiple printing methods for overlapping colors and images. In this method, the ink travels through a mesh screen while the stencil draws the picture.

Litho Or Transfer Printing

Litho/transfer printing is one of the oldest known methods of printing. Though this method is slower and more time-consuming than direct screen printing, it is suitable for transferring design or photos on ceramic surfaces.

This method supports a wide range of colors to print on ceramic mugs. To do that, you print the preferred image on a particular printing paper and transfer the image to the mug.

Digital Printing

Digital printing offers more variety in color with full image and permanent printing. This method is pretty similar to litho or transfer printing.

And it is a perfect way to print high-resolution photos on your ceramic mug. Digital printing allows you to transfer cartoons, graphics, and more images to ceramic mugs.

Dye Sublimation Printing

You can opt for dye sublimation printing if you want more vibrant and crystal clear printing on your ceramic mug. This technique is popular for both business and DIY printings.

Printing photos with sublimation methods are pretty simple and cost-effective. You only need to print the picture in sublimation paper, attach it to the mug, and use heat to print the image.

Pad Printing

It is a popular method for printing logos on golf balls. But we all know that modern technology can do wonders.

So it is not surprising that you can also use this method to print on your ceramic mugs. Pad printing usually has an ink cup and plate with designs that allow the pad to leave a print on the ceramic.

How To Print On Ceramic Mugs At Home?

Printing mugs in shops is not expensive. However, knowing how to print on ceramic mugs at home will save you money when you have the necessary equipment.

Litho printing, digital printing, and sublimation printing can be done in two simple ways at home.

  • Electric iron method
  • Heat press method

The methods I have discussed in the previous section are suitable for printing different mugs. But you can use the following procedures to print on ceramic mugs at home.

Electric Iron Method

The electric iron method is pretty different and DIT type. You can print on mugs with this method without going through any complicated process.

Things You Will Need

  • Sublimation paper
  • Inkjet printer
  • Ceramic mug
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Electric iron

Step 1: Select Your Mug

There are various types of mugs available in the market. But since we are talking about printing on ceramic mugs, choose a suitable ceramic mug of your choice.

Consider the mug color and the photo before you purchase it. If the photo color and the mug color are the same, the outcome will not be satisfying. So it would be best if you selected a white ceramic mug.

Step 2: Select The Photo

What are you planning to print? Is it a family photo or a photo with friends? Or are you planning to print an image with quotes or art?

Whatever it is, select the photo of your choice. But remember that if the photo resolution is poor, the print result will not be good.

Step 3: Print The Photo

Use sublimation paper to print the photo. Such papers are suitable for transferring the ink or image to any hard surface.

Adjust the height and width of the photo so that it sits perfectly on the mug. And remember that you need to print a mirrored image so that it will not appear like a mirrored reflection on the mug.

Step 4: Attach The Picture On The Mug

Before you attach the printed image to the mug, make sure it is clean. Consider where and how you want to place the photo.

If it is a single-side photo, attach it where you want to print it. But if it is a wrapped-around image, attach it around the mug. The printed part should be on the mug’s surface.

Step 5: Secure The Photo With Tape

To ensure the photo sits perfectly on the mug and provides a satisfying outcome, you need to secure the image first.

Use stripes of heat-proof tape on both ends of the photo. But do not place the tape on the area where the picture is. You can tape the area where the extra white part of the paper is.

Step 6: Heat The Mug Surface

Now, turn on the electric iron to heat the mug. This process does not take a long time.

Press the hot iron on the photo you have attached to the mug. Do it for 2 to 3 minutes until the image is transferred to the ceramic mug surface.

Step 7: Clean The Mug Surface

After you have completed the heating step, carefully remove the image paper from the mug surface. Do not remove with force or hurry as it can ruin the print.

Remove it in a manner like peeling off a sticker with your thumbnail. Then clean the mug thoroughly, and you will notice the printed photo getting clearer.

Heat Press Method

Usually, the heat press method is more advanced and suitable for photo printing on mug business. However, if you have the resources, you can print the ceramic mug at home with a heat press in the following way.

Step 1: Choose Your Mug

This step is the same as the first step of iron-press printing. Choose your ceramic mug based on the type of photo you want to print. Though you can choose from different colors, white ceramic mugs always give the best results.

Step 2: Choose The Photo

The next step is to choose the photo you want to print. Remember to pick a high-resolution image for the best outcome.

Step 3: Print The Photo

Now, print the photo on sublimation paper so that you can print it on the mug. Sublimation papers are suitable for perfect photo printing on hard surfaces. And you will need sublimation ink to create the photo on the printing paper.

Step 4: Attach The Photo To The Mug

Use a scissor to cut the extra edges of the photo but leave out enough paper around the edge to secure it with heat-resistant tape. The image should not be bigger than the mug.

Step 5: Place The Mug Into The Heat Press

After attaching the photo, carefully place the mug into the heat press machine. Make sure the sublimation paper is not folded or wrinkled because it can ruin the printing entirely. Also, set the mug correctly so that the handle will stay out of the heating area.

Step 6: Adjust The Heat

Set the heat press machine’s temperature to its maximum heat, which can be between 340-degree to 400-degree Fahrenheit. Set the timer to 3-4 minutes and wait for the machine to print the photo.

Step 7: Remove The Mug

Once the heating time is up, remove the mug from the machine. You can use something heat-resistant to pull it out as it can be hot sometimes. Then remove the tape that is holding the photo to the mug and gently remove the paper.

Step 8: Cool Down The Mug

Your ceramic mug now has a printed photo or design on it. But a freshly printed mug will stay hot for a while. Put it aside until it cools down completely before you touch it.

And avoid putting a hot ceramic mug in the fridge to cool it down faster. Doing this can end up cracking the mug, along with all your efforts.

How Does Printing On Ceramic Mugs Work?

Different printing methods work in different ways. But exactly how do they do the job? Let’s find out!

Screen Printing

This printing method involves the ink passing through mesh or screen first. Then the printer will have a stencil to the sketched mesh.

There are tiny holes in the stencil that help the image to appear on the ceramic mug. This method allows print smaller designs at a low cost.

Logo Printing

You can print the logo in various ways. First, you need to print the logo on paper that is mainly used for printing on ceramics.

Then cover-coat the ceramic and use waterslide to transfer the logo on the mug. You can apply the image on the mug using your hand.

Digital Printing

Digital printing helps you transfer images or designs directly to the ceramic surface. For this printing system, you need to print the photo on a coated paper. Then you can apply waterslide and let the print transfer from the paper to the mug.

Photo Printing

There are various photo printing methods for ceramic mugs. The most common way to do it is to transfer the photo using electric iron or heat press.

Make sure the photo has high-resolution and print it. Then attach it to the mug and use heat to transfer it to the ceramic. The heat works as a medium to print the image on the mug.

Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing is the fastest way to print a photo on a ceramic mug. You need both sublimation ink and paper to print the image. Then attach the picture around the mug using heat-resistant tape.

Next, use electric iron or heat press to heat the paper on the mug. As you do it, the ink sublimates into a gas and prints the photo via heat and pressure.

Which Paper Is Best For Ceramic Mug Printing?

You cannot print on your ceramic mugs without using printing paper. And they need a special paper known as sublimation paper.

Such papers have coatings that absorb ink into the material you want to print. They can hold the ink in place to prevent printing off-center. You also need sublimation ink to do such printing.

Sublimation paper does not work without heat. You need to heat the paper to transfer the design to the mugs.

You can also use iron-on design paper to print on your ceramic mugs. However, this paper works a little differently than the sublimation paper.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can Any Ceramic Mug Be Sublimated?

You can sublimate any ceramic mugs with special coatings. However, if the ceramic has glazes on it, you can sublimate it without any coating.

Moreover, look for a ceramic mug that can tolerate high heat and is durable. Low-quality ceramic mugs can crack under high temperatures during sublimation.

Q. Can You Print A Picture On Ceramic Mug?

You can print anything you want on a ceramic coffee mug. You can print scenery, photos, quotes, logos, text, and more as long as it seems fitting to you.

Ceramic mugs with printed photos are excellent as gifts on any occasion. And even if you don’t want it to be a gift for others, you can print it on a mug and have it yourself.

However, make sure the photos of the mentioned things are high-resolution. If not, the printing outcome will not be perfect.

Q. How Much Does It Cost To Print A Photo On A Ceramic Mug?

The average cost of printing a photo on a ceramic mug is around $8.95 to $17.99. The price can be more or less depending on the mug and photo size. And based on stores and their policies, the cost also depends on whether it is a one side or both sided photo.

Q. What Side Of The Mug To Print On?

You can print on the left or right, or both sides of the mug. Printing on the sides gives the photo, logo, or text better visibility. Besides, even if you are printing on a mug for decoration purposes, side prints will be visible no matter how you place them.

Q. Can You Use Infusible Ink On Ceramic Mugs?

Yes, you can use infusible ink on ceramic mugs. However, make sure that the ceramic is suitable for sublimation and has a special coating to make it work.

If so, the coating will absorb the ink. Otherwise, it will only stay on the surface like vinyl and make it difficult to wash.


I always thought that printing on mugs was a challenging thing to do. But if you use suitable materials and do everything correctly, it will not take long. But be ready to spend a few hours throughout the process to get the best result.

While electric iron printing on a mug takes a little manual effort, the heat press is more efficient. Nevertheless, as long as you know how to print on ceramic mugs at home, both of these methods will become simpler for you. Besides, it allows you to print as many mugs as you want without running to the mug printing store every time.

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