Heat transfer paper vs. vinyl

Heat transfer paper vs. vinyl

If you are thinking of printing something on your t-shirt they are two common printing methods you can deploy – heat transfer paper and vinyl. The former is cheaper than vinyl but does not stand up to wear that well. If you are looking for durability then vinyl is the way to go. Most people who desire to add some prints to their t-shirts will find using heat transfer paper a bit easier as all you need is your normal inkjet printer and a heat transfer material.

What are the differences between heat transfer paper and Vinyl?

Heat transfer paper
Normal Ink jet printer
Specialized printers
Glossy finish
Less durable
More durable


Heat transfer paper vs. vinyl – How do they Compare?


Heat transfer paper is cheaper than vinyl hence its widespread use. However, it does stand up to wear as vinyl does. If you desire multiple colors on your production items then heat transfer paper is ideal as vinyl is a bit cumbersome when it comes to numerous colors. The benefits of using heat transfer paper over vinyl is largely due to the fact that it is easy to establish. All you will need is your regular inkjet printer and something heat transfer device.


Heat transfer paper has the advantage of allowing you to print full color designs in just one layer you do not have to layer it like for vinyl. This makes it easy to use at home. Vinyl has the advantage of having a glossy finish to it which adds to the overall design of your output. It is also scratch and wear resistant which makes it more durable than paper. You can use both methods on your everyday garments like polyester, cotton, and blends. However, when it comes to durability, vinyl has an edge. With heat transfer paper you can do 25-30 cycles of washing and from there you start experiencing fading. Vinyl can last longer than this.

Production machines

Most of the printable vinyl is made from industrial printers while you can use your normal inkjet or laser printer for the heat transfer paper. To print on vinyl you will need large industrial printers that use eco-solvent or solvent ink. The printers can handle vinyl rolls measuring 15 inches to 60 wide. Such printers are also called wide-format printers because their size exceeds that of your normal printer. They are quite expensive with starting prices from $5,000. Vinyl is printed using full CMYK color with special inks but today latex ink is become more popular. The benefit of the latter is that it gives little time for dry time during printing which means you can print higher volumes.

Heat transfer paper vs. vinyl – A detailed Overview

Heat transfer paper – Overview

Heat transfer paper allows you to explore your creativity by allowing you to print creative designs on specialty sheets of heat sensitive fabric or paper. The paper is also known as sublimation paper and it is often heated to 400 degrees so that the designs you have created are seamlessly applied. You can use your normal inkjet or laser printer for heat transfer paper. Heat transfer is a bit easier to use as all you need is create your design on heat transfer paper and then apply your design on target material using a heat press machine. The heat transfer paper methods is the simplest way to transfer designs onto surfaces due to its ease of use. You do not need expensive printers and special inks like in the case of vinyl. Heat transfer paper also allows you to expand your creativity as you can create a variety of designs on it with multiple colors. This brings out better designs than vinyl.


  • Affordable
  • Widely available
  • Does not require special printers
  • Easy to use
  • Print multiple colors


Does not withstand wear and tear well

Vinyl – Overview

Heat transfer vinyl is a plastic based material that is used to transfer images onto T-shirts and other promotional materials via pressure, heat and time. The technique allows you to print designs on a variety of materials including ceramic, fabric, and canvas. Vinyl has the advantage of being glossy and this adds to its overall feel. It is also scratch and wear resistant. To print on vinyl you will need large industrial printers that use solvent or eco-solvent ink and can handle 15 to 60 inches or vinyl. Today, the trend is to move more to latex ink due to its low dry time when printing. This means you can increase your production to do more. Due to its durability it is not common to find that vinyl prints outlasting the garments its printed on. The probability of experiencing cracks is minimized. Different vinyl brands and colors will require varying amounts of temperatures, pressure and press times. You can purchase various vinyl designs and use your normal iron to transfer designs onto surfaces.


  • Gives you nice glossy finish
  • Durable and resistant to wear
  • Large scale operation


Expensive and does not allow for multiple colors

Verdict: So, which is better – Heat transfer paper vs. vinyl

Heat transfer paper is better as it is affordable and does not require expensive printers like vinyl does. The former also allows you to work with multiple colors while doing so on vinyl can be quite complicated. Heat transfer paper is also easy to use because all you need is a laser or inkjet printer and heat press machine. However, vinyl gives you a glossy look and is durable.


Which is more durable – heat transfer paper or vinyl?

Vinyl will last longer due to its glossy finish. It is also able to withstand fading better than paper

Do I need a special printer to print on heat transfer paper?

No, you normal inkjet or laser printer will surface. The process is uncomplicated as all you need is prepare your designs then transfer then onto your t-shirt with a heat transfer press.

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Allen Scott
Allen Scott is a technophile and has been handling tech gadgets for over 10years. According to Allen, most people are not aware of the new technologies developed that they can adopt to boost production in their respective industries. Businesses are still using old technological equipment that are less efficient and repair intensive. The above is the reason why Allen came up with comprehensive excerpts on different types of technological gadgets. So, as we move deeper into the techworld, it is important that the developed technologies be fully utilized. The Future is tech and the earlier everyone embraces this idea, the more fulfilling and efficient their lives will be. The above goes for both the developer and equipment user. Allen is a father to one and a husband, he loves traveling and during his free time, he loves to unravel the mysteries behind the development of the various tech gadgets.