What Vinyl Should I Use?
Not a day goes by in our Cricut Support Group that someone doesn’t ask the question,
“What type of vinyl should I use for . . .”
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And I don’t blame people for asking. It can be confusing!
Not only are there tons of different kinds and names, but they all have different purposes…and let’s be real, it can be enough to make someone to throw in the towel.
You really learn a whole new language when you start working with a Cricut or Silhouette machine!
So, today I wanted to just give a brief overview of the different kinds of vinyl out there and which ones will work best for your craft project.
What Vinyl To Use?
Although there are many different colors, styles, and varieties of vinyl, there are three main kinds I want to focus on – as they are likely what you will be working with the most.
Unfortunately, they don’t always go by the same name with every company, but in general, you will often hear the word “Oracal”. So below, I will be referencing that term, as well as what the Cricut brand is called.
When in doubt, always check the manufacturer description. It should give you good information on use of the product.
There are other types of vinyl, but the ones below are the kinds I see used or mentioned most often.
You should ask yourself these questions:
- What type of surface will I be putting the vinyl on?
- How long do I want it to be on the surface for?
- Will it be exposed to the elements?
Oracal 631 (or Removable)
When you are looking the description for a vinyl, if it says removable, you will want to follow the guidelines below. I have used removable vinyl plenty on different projects with good results.
- This is just called “Cricut Vinyl” (they also offer glitter and holographic which are great for the options below. There are more permanent glitter options available from other places.)
- Removable Wall decor
- Interior projects
- Binders or folders
- Window Cling
- Interior signs and decorations
- Anything you want to be temporary (like a phone case) or doesn’t have a lot handling (like a water bottle)
Oracal 651 (or Permanent Vinyl)
When looking at a vinyl description, if it says it is a permanent adhesive, you will want to use it for the following.
- Anything outdoor that will be exposed to the elements
- This is generally weather proof or weather resistant
- It’s good for anything that will be handled frequently – Mugs, wine glasses, Yeti cups, etc.
- Wood Signs (can use Oracal 631 as well)
- Decals that are meant to go on the car
- Exterior windows or signs
Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)
This is the kind of vinyl I use most often, simply because of the types of projects I do. It’s my favorite!
- Cricut calls this “Iron on” vinyl
- This is the kind of vinyl you will use for fabric projects you want to adhere vinyl to – t-shirts, dresses, canvas bags, felt, makeup bags, purses, socks, stuffed animals, etc.
- HTV is mainly available in solid colors or glitter
- You will need some kind of iron or heat press (I have the Cricut EasyPress and really love it). I also recommend having something like this for under your iron.
- Make sure you mirror HTV before you use it – the shiny, pretty side should be placed toward the mat.
- How to Use Iron On Vinyl with Cricut
- How to Layer Heat Transfer Vinyl
- Great for Print and Cut Projects (stickers, magnets, etc) Printable Vinyl is rather handy, as is this sticker paper.
- There are HTV printable vinyls, which are great for printing intricate designs or logos that may be harder to replicate with regular vinyl. I do find this kind of vinyl a little harder to come by. This website always has it in stock though and has a great rewards program. You can use the code Clarks10 for 10% off your order.
Oracal 851 951
- Military Grade
- Good for things like boats that need to be very weather resistant
- Use with caution – it can cause damage if you have to remove it
Best Places to Buy Vinyl:
There are a lot of places to buy vinyl – some good, some bad. I personally use a lot of vinyl from Cricut, and I’ve always had good results. However, I wanted to list a few places that others often recommend.
Expressions Vinyl – I really love Expressions Vinyl. They have a great variety of products, colors, and styles, and they have great customer service with fast shipping. I really love this page they have which goes into even more detail on different types of vinyl. They are very detailed in the descriptions for their products. I used their glitter vinyl for these Salt Lake City Temple plaques we made for a church event.
651vinyl .com – This is the company that I hear most people recommending. I haven’t used vinyl from them, but I think I’m going to have to order some samples soon!
Happy Crafters – I was sent a sample of vinyl from Happy Crafters, and I was very happy with it. Lots of variety in color, quick shipping, and great customer service. Love them!
Kraftyville – This place has a lot of vinyl options that are high quality. Use the code Clarks10 for 10% off.
Vinylworld651.com – This is another company many people in our Cricut Support Group uses!
Other FAQs about Vinyl:
Why is the transfer tape not working?
This can be SO frustrating – you have a project that has cut perfectly, you apply the transfer tape, and BAM…it won’t transfer. I’ve been through this frustration, and I know many of you have.
Typically I see this issue most often with glitter adhesive vinyl. This type of vinyl needs a stronger grip transfer tape. Most sheets or rolls of vinyl will come with transfer tape that is best for it. Cricut has a strong grip transfer tape, which is purple.
I haven’t tried it, but I know a lot of people recommend using painters tape. Apparently it works great with glitter vinyl.
On the flip side, don’t use strong grip transfer tape on regular, removable vinyl.
Why is the blade not cutting through my material all the way/cutting too much?
Triple check your settings. Just today, I was cutting some glitter HTV and regular HTV, and I forgot to change it to the regular HTV (iron on) setting in Design Space, and it cut straight through the HTV!
The settings in Design Space for iron on, vinyl, etc. are set specifically for Cricut products. If you are doing a different brand of vinyl, I would just do a test cut to make sure the settings are correct and adjust them in the custom settings if not.
Also make sure to clean out your blade to make sure there isn’t an remnants of materials in there (this is especially important if you have previously cut that material correctly with your machine).
Can I layer glitter HTV?
This question gets asked a lot. Technically, yes, you can layer glitter HTV…but most manufacturers of vinyl don’t recommend it. I know some people say they do it a lot, but others will tell you it doesn’t adhere is well.
In general, I would just use glitter HTV as the top layer when you layer vinyl (make sure you read this post about layering HTV).
You can also do a method where you slice the image out in Design Space when creating the image. Basically, layer it how you would like it in Design Space, select all, and press slice. You will cut the sliced image (and the image with the sliced out part in that form) and then piece it together when you iron/press it on.
What mat should I use?
The green standard grip mat usually works great!
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