Picking the Best Vinyl for Screen Printing

Sep 7, 2022 | Beginner Tutorials, Screen Printing


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Picking the best vinyl for screen printing can seem complicated but it doesn’t have to be. For my screen printing with vinyl projects, I prefer to use either adhesive (sticky) vinyl or HTV (iron on vinyl).

This article is an overview of these two common types of vinyl, my favorite brands, and when I use each one in my own projects. (I am discussing my unique method of using the vinyl to make a stencil for screen printing.) Keep reading to learn more about each type and when you should use each one for your own screen printing using vinyl projects.

best vinyl for screen printing cricut silhouette 

If you’re ready to start using your Silhouette machine or Cricut for screen printing, trying to decide which vinyl you should use is an important decision because not all vinyl works the same for screen printing.

As a screen printing with vinyl pro, I have tested many different vinyl brands with my Screen Printing With Vinyl process. I have found the best vinyl for screen printing is Oracal 651 and Siser EasyWeed. Oracal 651 is an adhesive (sticky) vinyl and Siser EasyWeed is HTV or iron-on vinyl.

These are my favorite brands because I have put them to the test and I know they work great time after time.

Which one should you use? In order to pick the best vinyl for your screen printing project, you need to determine – Is this design for a one time project or do you plan to use it over again in the future?

If your design is for a custom, one time project, I recommend using Oracal 651 adhesive vinyl. If you plan to use the design over and over again in the future, I recommend you use the Siser EasyWeed to make a permanent screen printing stencil.

screen printing using vinyl cricut

One Time Screen Printing with Vinyl Projects

Have you ever needed to make multiple shirts for a big custom order? Oracal 651 adhesive vinyl is great for making your stencil for these projects. Use your vinyl cutter to cut the design, attach it to the screen with transfer tape, and viola. You can use the same screen to print as many times as you need. I've used the same screen to make over 75 shirts at one time! After you are done printing, remove the vinyl and wash the screen. The screen is ready to use for your next project.

This process is one of the reasons I love screen printing with vinyl more than making t-shirts with HTV. Quality HTV can get expensive when doing a bunch of shirts and who has time to weed all those designs. With my vinyl screen printing method, you cut the design once, weed it once, and then use it over and over again on multiple shirts.

cricut screen printing best vinyl to use

Make a Permanent Screen Printing Stencil

If you are looking for a more permanent design for a screen, HTV is what you need to use. Just like with the adhesive vinyl, use your vinyl cutter to cut your design but this time you iron the HTV onto the screen to make it permanent. This creates a permanent screen printing stencil that you can use over and over again.

For example, I get inspired to make things with my logo on them all the time. I don’t want to take the time to cut and weed the vinyl every time this inspiration strikes so I have a screen with my logo ironed on with HTV. Anytime I want to print my logo, I grab this screen and it’s ready to go with my logo already attached. No cutting, no weeding, and no prep time.

You can use this same process if you have a favorite design you want to have on hand for those on demand orders. This is a great option because the HTV design won’t wash off your screen. You can wash and reuse the pre-made screen over and over again. I’ve used and washed my HTV logo – screen combination for over two years now and it still works great.

If you only have one screen but still want a permanent design, you can remove the mesh from the screen and attach a blank mesh for another project if you have to. I recommend having a screen dedicated to each HTV design you plan to use. If you need extra screens, check out the wood screen printing frames I use for my projects.

screen printing using vinyl

It Doesn’t have to be Complicated

Finding the best vinyl for screen printing is easier than you might think. You just have to know what kind of project you plan on doing and use the advice above to meet your needs.

Want to hear more about the vinyl types, watch this YouTube video:

17 Comments

  1. What temperature do you use to press your HTV to your screen? I don’t want to melt mine.

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    • Agree this is worthy of a video

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      • Following

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  2. I’ve been asking myself a bunch of questions about screen printing. You’ve answered each of them here. You’ve explained it well. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to try both oracle 651 and siser easyweed.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad this article answered all of your questions! If you run into any other screen printing questions, feel free to reach out!

      Reply
  3. I just tried the Oracal vinyl and it did not stick very well to my screen. Maybe my transfer tape was too sticky? It did not lift away as easy as you show in the video. May I ask what transfer tape you use for the Oracal on your screens? Thanks.

    Reply
  4. So I’ve tried doing the iron on but the adhesive always sticks through and sticks my screen to the parchment paper or whatever surface I use beneath it and ruins my screen. Anyone have advice on avoiding this issue?

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    • If the HTV adhesive is going through the mesh, it sounds like either your temperature is too high or you may be pressing for too long. I’ve found that turning the temp down to 280 degrees for about 20 seconds works for me.

      Reply
  5. I can NOT get my Oracle 651 permanent vinyl to stick to the screen when using transfer tape. What is your secret?????? I’m SO frustrated!!!! My brother bought me the Speedball kit as an early Christmas gift and I can’t get anywhere with the Oracle 651. Please HELP!!!!!

    Reply
    • Hi Linda, are you using the transfer tape that came with the kit? The right transfer tape can make all the difference. Most is way too sticky and can make the process a real pain. I sell my favorite transfer tape in rolls here: https://www.pigskinsandpigtails.com/a/my-transfer-tape

      Reply
  6. I was wondering if Oracal 651 comes off easily from the screen for screen printing, because it is permanent vinyl. Would Oracal 631 work better since it is a removable vinyl?

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    • Hi Tomomi, Oracal 651 is the right vinyl to use. There is just the right amount of adhesive for the screen printing process. It stays adhered when wet with the screen printing ink but you can easily peel it off the screen when you are done. Removable vinyl will not hold up as well once you go over it with ink.

      Reply
  7. hello. I read your article as well as saw a video on your YouTube using H TV. My question is, do you have to cut the HTV with the shiny side down as usual? I think you mentioned that you don’t have to mirror the image, is that correct? it’s all so backwards to me…lol. thank you

    Reply
    • When you are making a permanent screen with HTV, you do not want to mirror the design. Yes, cut the vinyl like usual with the shiny side down.

      Reply
  8. Is your screen print kit available on Amazon?

    Reply

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I’m Jennifer, your go-to for all things vinyl screen printing. I offer both in-person and online classes to help you craft better quality shirts. This blog is full of screen printing inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn all about screen printing with vinyl!

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