A confused woman holds up two different types of vinyl, one labeled HTV and the other labeled adhesive vinyl. She wonders what the difference is between the two.

Learning the Difference Between HTV & Adhesive Vinyl

If you're new to the crafting world, getting started with vinyl can be exciting, but more often than not, you end up getting overwhelmed with how many different types of vinyl there are to choose from as you are suddenly confronted with unfamiliar words like heat transfer vinyl, permanent vinyl, HTV, adhesive...so, what do these all mean? Let's start by comparing both types of vinyl:

Heat Transfer Vinyl  

Heat Transfer Vinyl (or HTV) is a type of craft vinyl that is often used on T-Shirts and fabrics through a heat-application process. This also commonly referred to as "iron-on" vinyl by most beginners. Popular types of Heat transfer vinyl include Siser EasyWeed, Premium Plus, Glitter, and Inkjet Printable. Many who work with this type of vinyl use a Cricut machine, weeding tools, and a heat press to bring their designs to life. One characteristic of HTV is that each sheet (or roll) of HTV comes with a carrier sheet which allows you to transfer your cut-out design to the shirt or fabric of your choice. This carrier sheet is often clear or frosty, and most importantly, the vinyl underneath is NOT sticky. Different types of vinyl will have different cut settings & heat settings, so you'll want to carefully pay attention to the instructions for each product.


Adhesive Vinyl  

Adhesive Vinyl is a type of craft vinyl that is often used for decals & stickers that is applied to a wide variety of smooth hard surfaces. Adhesive vinyl falls under two main categories: Permanent & Temporary. Popular types of permanent adhesive vinyl include Oracal 651, EasyPSV Glitter, and Glow In The Dark, whereas a popular type of temporary vinyl would be the Oracal 631. Many who work with this type of vinyl use a Cricut machine, weeding tools, and application tape to apply their designs to various surfaces. One characteristic of adhesive is that each sheet (or roll) of adhesive vinyl typically has a white paper backing. Most importantly, the vinyl IS sticky. Different types of vinyl will have different cut settings, so you'll want to pay attention to the instructions for each product.


Cutting Your Vinyl

When it comes to cutting your vinyl, not all vinyls are created equal. Not only do different vinyls have different blade settings, but the way you cut each vinyl can vary. Heat Transfer Vinyl for instance is generally cut with the vinyl facing down, requiring words & designs to be mirrored in the design program, whereas with adhesive vinyl, it is generally cut with the vinyl facing up with no mirroring necessary. There are of course minor exceptions to this rule, most notably our Printed Pattern HTV which is cut the same way as adhesive vinyl. This is why it is important to double-check the settings & instructions for each product before you cut. If you are trying out a new type of vinyl for the first time, we strongly recommend doing a test cut with a small shape before cutting your design. As our sales associates often say "Test cut, test cut, test cut!"

Heating Your HTV

There are two ways to heat your vinyl: Using your home iron or using a heat press. Most people typically start out using their iron, which is fine for products like Siser EasyWeed, but once you start working with more specialty vinyls like our Puff HTV, you're going to start running into problems. You might want to invest in a heat press so that the heat can be consistent & equally distributed across the vinyl. Different types of HTV have different heat settings. Generally, temperatures for heat transfer vinyl can vary between 275-375 degrees Fahrenheit. Making sure you have accurate heat temperature is important, especially with certain types of specialty vinyl. Puff HTV even has different heat settings based on what color you're pressing! 


Helpful Tip: If you are starting out with a home iron, you'll want to make sure all of the water is drained from it first before using it on HTV. Also, if your home iron doesn't have temperature settings in Fahrenheit, you can use a handheld digital thermometer to check the temperature.


Where To Buy

If you're looking for a great place to buy HTV & adhesive vinyl at affordable prices, look no further than Clean Cut Graphics. We are a veteran-owned & operated company in the United States that ships vinyl all around the world. You can also shop at our physical retail store located in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. 


Watch our video tutorial here:

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