During the pandemic, I was really trying hard to look for new things to get into. I’m a pretty hands-on DIY type of craftsman. I tried woodworking, I tried sewing, and those things were fun but it wasn’t until I started using vinyl stenciling that I was able to bridge those worlds together in my mind.
You can make really cool graphics out of vinyl, but in order to transfer the vinyl designs onto fabric or some material, you’ll need the appropriate transfer papers to get the job done right. Vinyl paper transfer tape is an adhesive sheet that helps stick a wide variety of vinyl designs to many surfaces. Without using vinyl transfer papers, it would be extremely difficult to do free hand. However, getting a quality regular heat transfer is tough stuff at first, a perfect transfer even harder, so you need to understand the process you’re getting into. When the stickiness is too much or too little, you may end up with the vinyl still on the heat transfer papers, or bits of the heat transfer papers still stuck to the vinyl.
The following is an overview of the different factors you should understand so you purchase the correct heat transfer papers for your needs.
Heat Transfer Papers For Vinyl: What To Look For
1. Tack Strength
It starts with the medium. Is there a particular garment of choice, a certain fabric, or some smooth surface you intend to use? This variety of surfaces affect the thickness of vinyl you should use. Heat transfer papers are made with variable adhesive strengths. The tack strength depends on the vinyl thickness you are working with.
Permanent vinyl is manufactured to be thick with a strong durability. A high-strength, high-tack paper transfer tape is needed to lift it. Thinner temporary vinyl works just fine with a low to medium tack heat transfer paper.
Gridlines are great on heat transfer papers for those of you who want linear positioning, geometric templates, and precise arrangement of your graphic designs. If gridlines are not helpful for your project, gridless papers are easy to find too.
Transfer tape is essentially clear heat transfer paper, which is preferred by some for its transparency. This helps you envision your design on the surface, and also helps with alignment. A white paper transfer tape has the advantage of breathability, which will help prevent the formation of little air bubbles under the design, making it more ideal for wet vinyl.
4. Paper Dimensions
This isn’t such a big deal, but knowing how many feet of transfer you need will help you get the correct amount for yourself. For the low-key designer, most come 10 or 20 in a pack, measuring 10 x 12 inches, or 12 x 12 inches. Bigger commercial producers can use rolls of upwards of 50 feet and so on depending on the size of transfer. The main thing is to make sure that the image fits with your paper dimensions, and leave some room on the sides for an easier transfer.
Here Are The 6 Best Transfer Papers For Vinyl
1.YRYM HT Vinyl Transfer Paper Tape
This heat transfer paper tape is all about bang for your buck. It also comes in a large quantity, so if you are looking to do a lot of transferring, there you go.
It works great with basic vinyls, cuts nicely, and works with Silhouette, Cricut, or most other vinyl cutters.
The paper tape is transparent with a 1/2″ square red grid and a medium tackiness level.
On the downside, it won’t work as well with textured vinyls (i.e. Holographic vinyl, Glitter vinyl or HTV) and is not recommended for applying decals to paper.
- Larger amount for a smaller price
- One of few papers to have red grid
- Works mainly with basic vinyls, not as adapted well for textured vinyls
- Should not be used for applying decals to paper
2. Frisco Craft Transfer Roll
This transfer roll is a good starters roll as it is versatile and extremely adhesive.
It is transparent, with no grid and no release backing.
The tackiness of this transfer tape should work well with Silhouette, Cricut, Holographic and many other types of vinyl.
It is a pretty gluey transfer paper so it may be wise to dab it on a cloth to dispel some of its tackiness before using it.
- strong tack level
- non-grid transfer tape
- strong tack level – be careful
- no grid means less potential precision with vinyl placement
3. Cricut Transfer Tape
Cricut Vinyl transfer tape is generally offered in a smaller standard size (12” x 48”) than other tapes on this list. It is also on the pricier end. When using this tape, it is best to use it with Cricut vinyl. This paper tape is designed with a faint, black grid, which gives you discretion with precise positioning. Cricut is a big brand in the vinyl transfer tape game, and their products work well with each other as proven over time. That said, you will pay a little extra for that assurance.
- offered in a smaller size for smaller projects
- a proven product in the industry
- one of the few with a faint, black grid
- on the more expensive end of transfer tapes
- should be used with other Cricut products
4. JH Best Crafts Vinyl Transfer Paper
The JH tapes work well with a wide range of vinyl brands and types. It’s versatility applies to types such as Silhouette vinyl, and brands like Cricut and Oracal vinyl, among many others. Solid substrates both indoors and outdoors are fair game for this adaptable transfer tape.
This transfer paper is not transparent, it is an opaque white – and it has a red grid for alignment accuracy. It is offered at a reasonable price, and for a high-quality paper as this, most crafters will appreciate what JH is putting down.
- very versatile, works with many brands
- has a red color grid for precision
- high-quality at a reasonable price
- transfer paper is opaque white, not transparent
5. JANDJPACKAGING Transfer Tape
JANDJPACKAGING comes in with the lowest cost transfer paper on our list (for those that come in a 50 ft. roll). It is a transparent tape with a standard 1/2” square blue grid to help you place your decal exactly where you want it. This is a tape that works just fine, though I would recommend this tape for only standard vinyls.
- among the least expensive options on the market
- transparent with a blue color grid
- not so versatile
- low tack level
6. Oracal Transfer Tape
It is best to use this tape with Oracal vinyl. It is optimal for Oracal 651 and Oracal 751, also with Oramask. The versatility of this brand comes with the options of sizes they offer. There are many different sizes for sale, which may help you save money on the purchase. Overall, this Oracal transfer paper is a great choice for the price. It is transparent with a blue grid.
- big name brand in the vinyl transfer industry
- offered in many different sizes
- transparent with a blue grid
- the Oracal brand sells other products to help you start and finish your vinyl graphic design projects
- more expensive than many other brands
DIY gifts can make the world of a difference, and these options will be sure to help elevate your work to the next level. Hopefully this guide helps narrow down your options so that you can make your next purchasing decision and get started. We also have a page on learning how to make vinyl stickers here.
I’m a stay at home mom with our two kids. I really enjoy doing crafts with my kids however, that is typically a challenge with how limited their attention span can be and how messy it gets. So, I’m always looking for ways to make crafting an enjoyable experience and creating fond memory for all of us.