If you’re setting out to cover a raw wood surface with wood veneer, you have many choices. You can choose PSA veneer (pressure-sensitive adhesive, also known as peel-and-stick), Bubble-Free Veneer (22-mil paperbacked veneer), or standard 10-mil paperbacked veneer (when applied with a hot iron).
What is a constant, however, no matter your choice of veneer backer, is the need to first seal the surface with varnish, shellac, or some type of poly. Make certain to apply the sealant evenly across the substrate and allow to dry for a minimum of 24 hours.
Another constant is the need to apply adequate pressure when smoothing the new wood veneer atop the existing surface or substrate. Rather than a j-roller, we recommend that you use a block of wood fashioned from a six-inch or eight-inch piece of regular one-by-four-inch lumber. This block of wood applies equal pressure over a larger area than is possible with a j-roller.
Whether you choose PSA veneer or 22-mil Bubble-Free veneer, measure and cut to size, and then apply when the sealant has completely dried. Be certain to carefully smooth down the surface with your block of wood.
Even standard 10-mil veneer can be successfully applied to a raw wood surface, especially when covering a small area, once the raw wood surface has been treated with a sealant. Apply a thin and even layer of wood glue (also called white glue) to both the substrate and to the back side of the veneer. Apply the veneer and then heat with an iron, using Kraft paper (a supermarket bag will do) between the iron and the wood veneer surface.