What is Vinyl : An Ultimate Guide to Craft Vinyl Types and Uses

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.

vinyl flooring in the office -what is vinyl

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

Siser EasyWeed HTV Sheets 12 inch by 15 inch - 12 Pack Starter Bundle
  • 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.


1. EasyWeed

2.  Metal

3. StripFlock

4. EasyWeed Stretch

5. Glitter

6. EasyWeed Glow

7. Easy Reflective

8. Holographic

9. EasyPatterns

10. EasyWeed Sub Block

Oracal Assorted 631 and 651 Vinyl

Oracal Assorted 631 and 651 Vinyl - 48 Pack of Top Colors - 12" x 12"...
  • 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.


1. StyleTech Opal

2. StyleTech Metalized

3. StyleTech FX Glitter

4. StyleTech Transparent Glitter

5. Oramask

6. Oracal 631

7. Oracal 641

8. Oracal 651

9. Oracal 751

10. Oracal 5600

11. Oracal 6510

12. Oracal 8300

13. Oracal 8810

14. Oralux 9300

colorful vinyl floor - what is vinyl

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.

Last update on 2023-09-17 at 21:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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