What is vinyl? The word conjures up different images for different people. In the first half of the 1900’s, vinyl was used to produce millions of record albums, which were played over and over again, their bumpy little grooves wearing out the needle on the phonograph. In the mid 1900s, vinyl seat covers replaced leather ones in our automobiles and on our sofas. Before you knew it, vinyl had replaced patent leather in shoes and handbags and was used for faux leather clothing, sheet flooring and household items. Vinyl has come a long way over the years and is still a flexible and durable material used for innumerable items.
Let us introduce you to yet another form of vinyl. Craft vinyl is paper-thin with a very fine, smooth surface. It comes in sheets or rolls, is self-adhesive and has a peel-off paper backing. It comes in different varieties and a rainbow of color choices. This vinyl is as vital as air and water to many die-hard home crafters who keep their vinyl cutting machines buzzing with Pinterest-worthy projects day and night. Vinyl-lettered sayings in swirling fonts grace their walls, label their kitchen canisters and make sign making quick and easy. Another type of craft vinyl is used to create custom lettering or other designs for heated application on t-shirts and other clothing or fabric items.
What Is Vinyl Used for, and What Kinds Are There?
There are a few different brands, but the basic kinds are the same. We would like to help you understand the differences and what they are used for. There are two main types are Heat Transfer Vinyl and Adhesive Vinyl. Within those types are a myriad of styles, colors and special effects that can be used for any project you can imagine.
Heat Transfer Vinyl
- 12 most popular Siser EasyWeed colors on the market
- Easy and Ready-to-cut material designed for custom garment decoration
- Pressure sensitive carrier allows you to weed small letters and fine designs easily
Heat Transfer Vinyl, also known as iron-on vinyl, does not have a self-adhesive back. The prepared and cut out design is placed on a fabric surface, and then heat must be applied for a brief period to adhere it to the item. Once the vinyl cools, it is a permanent part of the item it has been applied to. This is the type of vinyl used in shops where they make custom t-shirts with a heat press. It can also be used at home with an iron, although if you plan to create a lot of these, a heat press might be a good investment as it produces the optimum heat for transferal and does the entire design in one press, as opposed to a small area at a time with your household iron.
Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) comes in a wide variety of kinds, depending on the material it will be applied to, the item’s use and the finish you are looking for. The Siser Company makes all of the Heat Transfer Vinyl mentioned below.
KINDS OF HEAT TRANSFER VINYL
– Best for cotton or polyester fabrics. This variety is the most often used HTV. For more complicated or multi-colored designs, this one can be layered. It comes in a huge assortment of colors including glow in the dark and neon.
– Works with cotton or polyester fabrics. This glowing metallic finish HTV will retain its gold or chrome finish even after multiple washes. Use it to jazz up jeans or add highlights to a hat.
– Use on cotton or polyester materials. This vinyl is thicker and fuzzy, almost like suede or velvet. This works well for areas where you want a semi-raised design. It makes a great layered design and works well as a border on lettering, giving a tackle-twill feel to the item. Also use this vinyl on non-clothing items such as tote bags, backpacks, hats, etc.
4. EasyWeed Stretch
– For use on cotton, polyester, or Spandex. This HTV has the convenience of the previous variety but also stretches, making it an ideal vinyl to decorate sports jerseys, workout wear, or for clothing with a closer fit that must be stretched more to put on and take off.
– For application on cotton or polyester fabrics. This vinyl product may crack or peel if used on stretch items. It has a thicker weight and the feel of a genuine, glittered surface.
6. EasyWeed Glow
– Use for cotton or polyester applications. This HTV may not look like much - with the lights on - but flip the switch off and the shirt gets its glow on. Avoid using on items where stretch is needed as it may crack.
7. Easy Reflective
– Can be used on cotton or polyester fabrics. This unique and highly reflective vinyl product is the only HTV that comes with a repositionable light-tack adhesive backing. You can move it around until you get it right and then go ahead and heat-set it in place.
- Works on cotton or polyester fabrics. This vinyl is layered with reflective chips that sparkle and change color. It also comes in a pearl finish and is not for stretch applications.
– For application on cotton or polyester fabrics. This patterned HTV comes in over 24 designs and has a light-tack adhesive backing to allow proper placement before using heat to transfer.
10. EasyWeed Sub Block
– Can be applied to cotton or polyester materials. This vinyl combines the ease of heat transfer with the permanence of sublimation and is a great solution for sporting gear or team jerseys. It’s long lasting and comes in brilliant colors.
Oracal Assorted 631 and 651 Vinyl
- Top 48 most popular colors - 24 sheets of oracal 631 matte vinyl and 24 sheets of oracal 651 Glossy...
- Vinyl is designed to last years
- 631 Matte - 3-mil thick, 651 Glossy - 2.5-mil thick
The secondary type of vinyl is the kind used on everything other than clothing. It features a plastic back which you need to peel off in order to expose the sticky side. Once you’ve peeled the back, you can stick it on practically anything your heart desires. This includes wood, paper, metal, and even fabric (non-clothing).
If may be wondering: why would I need vinyl that doesn’t stick to clothes? Well, if you want to make personalized items such as signs, bottles, vases, or jars, using these vinyl sheets is the way to do it. Paired with a high-quality circut machine, the design possibilities are virtually endless.This is particularly useful for DIY projects and for small businesses advertising.
You could also use the vinyl sheets as-is to decorate larger items including refrigerators, dishwashers, or any other large appliances. Just be aware that they stick better to shiny appliances rather than matte ones.
There are several brands that make vinyl sheets, including Oracal and StyleTech. Here are a few of the vinyl sheets they produce in no particular order.
KINDS OF ADHESIVE VINYL
1. StyleTech Opal
– Flashing colors appear as you turn this cast vinyl from side to side, just as they do when gazing at an opal gem. It is for indoor use and is durable for from 1 to 2 years.
2. StyleTech Metalized
– The metallic color choices include holographic, chrome and galvanized aluminum styles. It is best used indoors, and its longevity varies according to use.
3. StyleTech FX Glitter
– This glitter-finish vinyl will last from 5 to 8 years for exterior projects. It is also rated for use in wet conditions such as the side of a boat.
4. StyleTech Transparent Glitter
– With a 5-year durability, this vinyl is tougher than its transparent appearance lets on.
– Designed for use in stenciling and etching. Cut your design, and then adhere it to the surface you wish to etch or stencil. Its light tack adhesive is easily removable.
6. Oracal 631
– This standard-use basic vinyl can be removed for up to 2 years after application on a smooth surface. It is an indoor product with a matte finish.
7. Oracal 641
– This is for exterior or more permanent use and will stay put for between 3 to 5 years. It can be used for hand washable items such as mugs or windows.
8. Oracal 651
– Many people begin using this vinyl because it is slightly more rigid and easy to work with. It may be hand washed. It can last from 5 to 8 years and comes in either a matte or gloss finish.
9. Oracal 751
– This vinyl is more expensive and can be more challenging to work with but is also more flexible because it’s been cast or poured rather than rolled. It can hold up for up to 8 years.
10. Oracal 5600
– This is a duplex vinyl, meaning the adhesive side is white. This may not be suitable for adhering to glass for that reason. It is reflective and will last up to 7 years.
11. Oracal 6510
– This is also a duplex vinyl that has a white back and comes in neon colors. It will last indefinitely indoors with a maximum outdoor limit of 1 to 2 years.
12. Oracal 8300
– This is a translucent vinyl, which can be layered and works great for mirrors, windows or stained glass. It will last up to 5 years and has UV protection built in.
13. Oracal 8810
– A frosted 5-year vinyl, this one works well to obscure awkward windows or to add a frosted touch to mirrors or windows during the holidays.
14. Oralux 9300
– If you need a project to glow in the dark, this is the vinyl for you. With its permanent adhesive, it will last indefinitely. It is white when exposed to light and green when it is dark.
Now that we have helped to answer the question, “What is vinyl?” you might want to give a few different kinds a whirl and see if they breathe new life into your creativity. Whether you decide to use Heat Transfer Vinyl and design some fun clothing or household items, or you dive into Adhesive Vinyl, label everything in sight and put decals on every wall, we think you will agree that with craft vinyl, the sky truly is the only limit.