Now that I’ve shown you the Basics of How to Screen Print, plus you know I love using Heat Transfer vinyl, lots of you are wondering, what’s the difference?? Why would you choose one over the other?? So I’m here to breakdown the Screen Printing vs. Heat Transfer Vinyl debate.
Here are a couple of images that you can pin so that you can easily find this info later for your reference. This post may contain affiliate links.
What is Screen Printing?
Screen printing is when you use a stencil that is attached to a screen and then swipe ink over the stencil and it prints that design onto your shirt.
What is HTV?
HTV stands for Heat Transfer Vinyl. It is when you cut a design out of vinyl and iron that decal onto a shirt.
What is the difference between HTV and Screen Printing?
I thought it might be easiest to list out a comparison chart of some of the differences between the two:
Cost, Screen printing vs vinyl:
Screen printing with the craft method uses permanent vinyl which is only $0.99. BUT, you also will need the paint/ink, screen, and squeegee. HTV is $3.79 a sheet but you don’t need any of those extra tools and supplies.
Preparation, Screen printing vs vinyl:
With both methods, you will use a cutting machine (you know I love my Silhouette!) to cut your design or stencil. With both you use heat to set it (with both you can use either an iron or a heat press).
Process, Screen printing vs vinyl:
Screen printing has more room for error! You could pull the ink unevenly, or it could not fill in all the way or it could seep. Plus it’s a little hard to see where you’re placing it on your shirt because the screen is covered with the stencil. You can use the stencil over and over for multiple printing. With HTV, you just iron it on and you have the complete design, and you can see through your carrier sheet as you place it on your shirt. You can only use the vinyl once.
Results, Screen printing vs vinyl:
Screen printing has a softer feel, the ink has become part of the shirt. And you can achieve a more vintage look over time. Looks like you’ve painted a decal onto a shirt. HTV has a very crisp look and looks like you’ve attached a decal to a shirt. (Below: Vinyl on the left, Screenprinting on the right)
WHICH ONE IS BEST? Screen printing or Heat Transfer Vinyl?
This is a really tough question and I’m going to give you an answer you might not like – but I’m saying BOTH!!
I love both methods and use them in different circumstances. If you are printing several shirts with the same design (family reunion, etc), I would definitely say screen printing.
If you are only printing it once, if you want a more vintage vibe and are confident with screen printing, go for it! If you want to make sure to get it right the very first try, I would recommend Heat Transfer Vinyl.
Looking for custom tshirt tutorials?
Check out Basics of How to Screen Print
And then How to use Heat Transfer vinyl
Try them both and see which one you prefer!