Ever print graphics on a t-shirt but then they started cracking and fading? It must have been pretty frustrating, but the problem might not have been your design skills or the heat press machine. It might have to do with the transfer paper you used.
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At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Heat Transfer Papers
Whether you heat pressing designs onto your garments, gift items for friends or your customers’ items, you shouldn’t overlook the quality of the heat transfer paper.
The best heat transfer paper produces stunning images that hold out wash after wash, but bad heat transfer paper produces poor work.
Does getting the right transfer paper seem like a daunting task? These top 10 best heat transfer papers should make things much easier.
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Why Heat Transfer Paper?
Heat transfer paper is a sort of thin paper with a polymer coat, and it’s used to transfer full graphics onto fabrics like t-shirts and sweatshirts. Used in conjunction with a printer and a heat press machine, heat transfer paper has many pros, including:
- Efficiency – with transfer paper for shirts, you can print a partial shipment when it arrives. However, with direct screen printing, you have to wait for all the ordered t-shirts to arrive.
- Saves inventory space – you can print a few samples and print large-scale only on demand, but while doing screen printing, you have to print as many t-shirts as possible, thus using up the storage space.
- Affordability – the cost of using heat transfer paper to decorate each t-shirt is low compared to other methods. Again, you need minimal equipment to get started.
- No mess – with a method like screen printing, you often spill the ink all over the place and have to clean up afterward, but with transfer paper and a printer, you don’t have to deal with any of that.
Now that you understand what heat transfer paper is and why it’s useful, we will present reviews for the top 10 best t-shirt transfer papers.
10 Best Heat Transfer Paper Reviews
1. Best Music Posters Red Crafts Transfer Paper 12″ x 10 Feet Roll
Starting off our review is this amazing transfer paper roll from Best Music Posters.
The reason why we selected this good heat transfer paper as our top product is because it’s both inexpensive and of excellent quality.
With this roll, you get four feet on top of the regular size of six feet. This makes the roll cost-efficient, enabling you to save cash by giving you extra. If you’re on a budget and are looking for a way to complete your project, this is the transfer paper to get.
Versatility is another factor that cements the product’s position at the top. The paper is so versatile that you can use it with outdoor and indoor vinyl. It works with Silhouette, Oracal transfer tape, Cameo, Cricut Vinyl, Provo Craft, and more.
If you don’t want to deal with the stress trying to determine which side to print on, you will find this product quite suitable. It comes with grids, and these mark the unprintable side so you know what side to print on.
Being a US-made product, you’re assured about the quality, and again, this increases the ease of contacting the manufacturer or seller if you need help using the product or if you need to return it.
- Four feet longer than the regular brand
- Red grid on one side for distinguishing the unprintable side from the printable one
- Compatible with a range of adhesive vinyl
- Easy to use
- Made in the US
- Reusable up to three times
2. Angel Crafts Clear Transfer Paper Tape Roll 12″ by 8ft
There’s so much to say about the Angel Crafts Clear Transfer Paper Tape Roll, but we’ll only focus on the most important features.
First and foremost, the product is made of a rubber-based adhesive that makes release easy and quick. This is an extremely useful feature if you’re looking for speed and convenience, as you don’t want to struggle or waste time when weeding the transfer.
After using the transfer paper with vinyl, there’s no sticky residue to deal with afterward, and hence, there is a minimal chance of tearing your project during release.
Aside from that, the paper comes with free instructions on use with vinyl, making the entire process straightforward for you.
Being composed of a clear side and a blue-grid side, the guesswork is kicked out of the equation. The grid indicates the unprintable side and that the clear side is the side to print on.
The most notable benefit that comes with this product is the quality of the transfers. Perfection is never easy to achieve with most endeavors but with this transfer paper, it’s easy. If you follow the instructions closely, the graphic will look just as it does on your screen.
- Easy and fast to release
- No sticky residue on the vinyl
- Free instructions
- Doesn’t rip your project
- No air bubbles
- Perfect results
3. Saral Paper White 12″ x 12ft
If you prefer using wax-free transfer paper, then the Saral Paper White 12″ x 12ft is the one to get. This graphite paper is meant for specialized and general use, allowing you to transfer your art to any suitable surface.
The advantage of wax-free transfer paper is that you can erase it like a pencil without worrying about smear or smudge. If there’s a mistake in the design, you don’t need to trash that paper, you only need to erase and correct it. This is one of the features that make this product very economical.
Another aspect that makes the transfer paper cost-efficient is that you can reuse it a few times.
It’s easy to make super clean and crisp tracings on it, and you can erase these tracings or paint over them before transferring your painting to the surface you’re looking to decorate.
In case you’re into tole painting, this is one of the most appropriate transfer papers you can use. And not just that; the paper is suitable for quilting, watercolor painting, fabric painting, ceramics, metal- and woodworking, and fine arts as well.
The Art & Creative Materials Institute certifies the paper as non-toxic, and thus suitable for kids and adults alike.
- Can be erased like a pencil without smear or smudge
- Super clean and crisp tracing that you can paint over or erase
- Economical as it can be reused
4. Angel Crafts Premium Transfer Paper Tape Roll 12″ by 8ft
The Angel Crafts Premium Transfer Paper is yet another brand that gives you more than the regular size. As mentioned before, the regular size of one roll is six feet, but this roll is eight feet long, meaning you have two feet extra.
But it’s not just about the size, the quality is splendid as well.
There are many ways in which this photo transfer paper is superior. First, the roll is very easy to unwind. If you asked someone who has used several brands and comes across transfer papers that are difficult to unwind, they could tell you how important the ease of unwinding is.
When you take off the plastic wrapping, you’ll find a set of instructions inside that tell you exactly how to use the transfer paper.
The paper features a grid on one side which tells you the opposite side is the side to print on. That way, you don’t have to use the time-wasting methods of making out the printable side like checking the shade difference or using a felt pen to mark the paper and check if there’s smudge.
If you’re in business or you’re just looking for a paper that helps you work efficiently, a good transfer paper with a grid-like this one from Angel Crafts will be very useful.
Having just the right amount of wax, the transfer paper doesn’t leave a sticky residue on vinyl, and it doesn’t tear or rip your project. The release is easy and quick.
- Fast and easy release
- Handy instructions
- Grid on one side
- Doesn’t leave a tacky residue on the vinyl
- Two additional feet over the regular size
5. PFT 15 Sheet Transfer Stencil Paper
The PFT 15 sheet transfer stencil paper is specifically designed for placing tattoos on the body, and it works superbly.
If your budget is tight, but you still need the best quality, you will find this product very appropriate. Costing just around six bucks, you get 15 sheets of transfer paper that come with protective tissues and backing sheets.
Each of the sheets has an A4 size (8.5″ x 11″), and if your designs are not very large, you can easily cut it in halves and save cost further. That means you can make the 15 sheets into 30.
When it comes to versatility, this brand is not left behind. First, you can use a thermal copier to place your designs on the paper or use your free hand to draw them on there.
In addition to that is the fact that the paper is not suitable for tattoos only. If you want to transfer designs to apparel, phone, or other electronic covers, you’ll find this transfer paper useful.
Thus, whether you’re a regular designer or a tattoo artist, it’s possible to do some amazing transfers using this brand.
When we first used this product, we saw that the designs weren’t very good and we thought that the quality was bad, but then we realized that it was due to not removing the protective paper. Ensure you don’t make the same error.
- Finest heat transfer paper for applying tattoos
- Easy to use
- Saves money
- Versatile – can be used by both tattoo artists and regular artists
6. Vinyl Frog Clear Transfer Paper Roll 12″ x 10ft
The Vinyl Frog Clear Transfer Paper is made with such great quality that you don’t have to apply too much pressure when peeling off the unused parts. All you do is pull the paperback as though to fold it on itself and pull it gently without much effort.
If you’re looking for something that is super easy to use, this transfer paper is ideal for you. Aligning it is very easy, and that’s why it’s recommended for decorating cars and windows.
But then again, you need to be aware that the adhesive on it is not very strong, so if you figure there are factors that could lead to its removal, like kids, then this may not be the right product for you.
Other than that, the transfer paper is a huge bang for your back especially because of the ease of use and the fact that it’s quite effective and versatile.
It goes for around 10 bucks and keeping in mind the fact that it comes with four feet more than the usual roll length of six feet.
- Perfect alignment
- Clear transfer paper
- Four feet extra
- Compatible with both indoor and outdoor vinyl
- Money-back guarantee
7. Ink Jet Transfer Paper by Transfer Magic 8.5 x 11 (7/Pkg)
This inkjet heat transfer paper by Transfer Magic is made specifically for inkjet printers and inks.
When using this transfer paper, there’s one very important point you should bear in mind – inkjet printers are meant for decorating cotton and cotton blends only. Attempting to use this transfer paper to transfer designs to polyester or other fabrics doesn’t yield very good results.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the paper is meant for light-color fabrics only.
Apart from that, the transfer paper is pretty versatile, as you can use it to transfer a wide range of designs, including pictures, letters, and more.
We can never adequately stress the point that when buying a transfer paper, the moneyback guarantee and the quality matter a lot. If you’re unsure whether a product is of good quality, you should go for one that is made in the US.
Again, a US-made is item likely to have a better return policy without lengthy or complicated issues. .
The transfer paper has an associated software that helps you learn how to use it correctly, but unfortunately, this works for Windows only.
- Compatible with inkjet printers and inks
- Made in the US
- Comes with instructions software
- Perfect for cotton and cotton blends
8. Saral Paper Graphite Transfer 12″ x 12ft
The Saral Paper Graphite Transfer 12″ x 12ft has all the qualities that a design fanatic could be looking for in a transfer paper.
For starters, it is made from the highest quality materials that make the transfer look fantastic. And that’s not all. As the quality is superb, the longevity is superior, so that your designs on fabric or whatever other items will not fade or crack any time soon.
Though the final transfers are pretty durable, your sketches on the transfer paper are very faint, and you can remove them almost more easily than light pencil lines on paper.
If you draw the sketches incorrectly, you can just rub them and draw them again. Moreover, this quality makes the paper reusable.
Saral Paper offers you a variety of transfer papers with regards to transfer papers, and this specific paper has graphite color. It’s a versatile, all-purpose tracing medium that you can draw and use to decorate a range of objects, including fabrics, wood, paper, metal, and canvas.
We’ve seen some folks complaining that the designs are faint or invisible but we’d like to say that choosing the correct transfer paper color is vital. For instance, the blue Saral Paper works great when you want to transfer a printed design to a chalkboard surface before writing with a marker.
But if you use another color, say white, the design will not be very visible.
- Made of high-quality materials
- Long-lasting designs
- Reusable transfer paper
- Great gift idea
9. Jolee’s Boutique Transfer Paper
If you need the best transfer paper for t-shirts, tote bags, and sweatshirts, then you got to give the Jolee’s Boutique Transfer Paper. This product, from the EKSuccess Brands, makes transferring designs on your fabrics super easy and convenient.
Perhaps you love printed t-shirts, but you don’t have the photo editor skills needed to create a great design. In that case, all you have to do is source a ready design from Jolee’sEasyImage.com and print it out on the transfer paper.
For those with design skills, you can just create a graphic using any suitable software on your PC and transfer it.
And talking of transfers, nothing makes things as easy as this professional heat transfer paper does. For instance, some transfer papers don’t adhere very easily, and you have to use a heat press to make an effective transfer. But this product sticks relatively easily, allowing you to use an iron.
Maybe you have printed your clothes before, only for the design to fade, crack, or come out altogether after a few washes. Designs transferred by this paper are so sturdy that the garments are hand and machine washable without the fear that there’ll be any cracking or fading.
The Jolee’s Boutique Transfer Paper is quite inexpensive, especially considering that the pack contains 10 sheets and goes for less than 10 bucks. Furthermore, it offers discounts from time to time.
- Relatively inexpensive
- checkFree designs at Jolee’sEasyImage.com
- checkMeant for white fabrics only
- checkEasy to use
10. EK Success Brands Jolee’s Boutique for Colored Fabrics
This particular product is meant for colored and dark fabrics.
The transfer paper is versatile when it comes to use, in that you can use it for sweatshirts, tote bags, T- shirts, and more.
Just head to Jolee’sEasyImage.com and use their handy editor to come up with an easy-to-do, but perfect graphic or pick a premade one from the store.
With the brand’s online design station, personalizing your designs has never been so easy, even with minimal to no design skills.
The other amazing side to this product is the sturdiness it gives to the transfers. You can hand wash or machine wash your apparel without worrying that your designs will come off or fade or crack.
We encourage you to go for this transfer paper from EKSuccess Brands. Five sheets measuring 8.5 by 11 inches make the price very reasonable and honestly good for saving the cost of production.
- Free designs at Jolee’sEasyImage.com
- Saves cost
- Ideal for dark and colored fabrics
- Effective, durable transfers that and they’re hand and machine-washable
Things to Know Before You Purchase the Best Heat Transfer Paper
Imagine going to Amazon and ordering a whole bunch of heat transfer paper blindly. Then, after using the paper on dark fabric, you realize that the design is hardly visible. You then do some research and discover that the paper you bought was meant for light-colored fabric.
If you want to avoid such mistakes, it’s vital to know exactly what to look for before purchasing a fabric transfer paper.
Type of printer
There are three main types of printers used for heat transfer. These include inkjet, laser, and sublimation printers.
Inkjet printers are the most popular as they’re cheap and their designs are great but for someone who wants unmatched image quality, laser printers will be more suitable.
Before buying the transfer paper, ensure it’s compatible with your printer.
Size of the Transfer Paper
The size of the transfer paper will determine the size of the design you can print on the T-shirts. If you’re looking to print large designs, you have got to go for a large transfer paper, but if your designs are small, it’s okay to get a smaller paper.
Again, keep in mind that the bigger the paper, the greater the amount of detail you can put in the designs.
Simplicity of transfer
Some transfer papers are easy to tear while others will require effort. The ones that are easy to tear help you move fast but the latter derail your projects.
Designs that are placed on t-shirts using the heat transfer method generally last long. However, the longevity of your designs depends on the durability of the transfer paper. By using durable transfer paper, your designs will not crack or fade easily regardless of how many times the t-shirts are washed.
Here are some of the aspects to look for in regards to the paper’s sturdiness:
- Cracking and fading resistance
- Color vibrancy
This is a very important feature to consider, and it will make the difference between a great, clear design and a fuzzy one.
So, consider the color of the t-shirts where you’re transferring the designs to.
With reference to color, there are two main types of transfer papers – the ones for light-colored fabrics and the ones for dark-colored fabrics.
The transfers meant for light-colored apparel have a dark shade while the ones for dark-colored apparel have a light shade.
You want the image to appear on the t-shirts just as it appears on your phone or PC screen? Then you’ve got to get a transfer paper that features full opacity.
There are two major methods of transferring designs to the garments – using a heat press machine or using an iron.
The difference between the two methods is the ability to control the temperature, pressure, and time. If the transfer paper is very sensitive to changes in these variables, then you will need a heat press machine as it gives you better control.
If you’re going to use an iron, then the transfer paper had better be tolerant to inconsistency in these variables. To be on the safe said, this sort of transfer paper because you never know when you might have to use an iron.
Types of Transfer Paper
In the past, people preferred screen printing for decorating their apparel, but today, there are other great options, one of them being heat pressing with the transfer paper.
Let’s have a look at the transfer paper types available.
Inkjet Transfer Paper
This is one of the most popular types of transfer paper, and as the name suggests, it’s meant for use with the inkjet printer.
It is a specially coated paper that can transfer designs to garments, and that purpose is achieved using a normal inkjet printer and inkjet ink, which might be pigmented or dye-based.
This paper fits both light and dark-colored apparel and here’s a brief description of the method of application:
- Print out the design as a mirror image. After that, place the paper face down on the garment and use a heat press machine or an iron to transfer the design to the garment using heat and pressure.
- The ink bonds with the fabric, and when you peel away the backing paper, your design is left stuck on the apparel. By placing silicone paper over the design and iron a little bit, you make the bond even stronger.
Sublimation Transfer Paper
The sublimation transfer paper is yet another means of transferring designs flawlessly to your t-shirts. This paper is used together with the sublimation printer and ink but how does it work?
The process involves a scientific principle known as sublimation. In simpler words, the ink sublimates or turns to gas without passing through the liquid phase. As the paper gets printed in the sublimation machine, gas ink solidifies on the paper, and a full-color image results.
In the process, a clear coat is also transferred onto the paper, and its function is to prevent the smudging of the ink when the heat and pressure are applied.
Sublimation transfer paper is suitable only for synthetic fabrics like polyester and polyester blends, so if you’re looking to print on other fabrics like cotton, you’ll need to use other transfer papers.
However, you can use sublimation paper to decorate specially-coated hard items like cups, mugs, and plates.
For short runs, sublimation printing is a bit more expensive than inkjet printing, since the sublimation printer is costlier than the inkjet printer. Thus, consider using sublimation printing only when you have a large customer base or huge orders.
Plastisol Transfer Paper
Also known as a hot-peel or hot-split paper, a plastisol transfer paper helps you produce a design with the quality of a screen-printed image.
The image is first printed on the plastisol using a screen printer, and then it’s transferred to the apparel through heat pressing. Immediately after the heat press, the paper is peeled off.
Though this method is less expensive than the sublimation method, it needs costly specialized equipment, including a screen-printing system and a heat press. To make it a bit cheaper, consider using an iron rather than a heat press machine.
Plastisol printing limits you with regard to color variety, but on the brighter side, you can use it to decorate a broad array of fabrics, including polyester, cotton, and blended fabrics.
Cold-Peel Screen-Printed Transfer Paper
This is parchment paper, and it’s a lot like the plastisol paper transfer in that it incorporates screen printing and needs costly equipment.
The reason why it’s called a cold-peel paper is that after applying the heat press, you have to wait for the paper to cool down before you peel off the backing paper.
during the cooling-down process, more ink gets transferred to the fabric, and thus a clearer, brighter image is produced.
Heat Press Vinyl
This is not a type of transfer paper but rather a means of transferring designs onto fabrics, and that’s why we thought we’d touch on it a bit.
Heat press vinyl comes in a variety of colors and styles, including glitter and puffy, and it’s for those who are looking for ultimate simplicity over design. Rather, you only cut out your designs and heat-press them directly onto the garments.
Best Heat Transfer Paper Brands on The Market
1. Saral paper
The Saral Paper company was founded in the 1950s by Sara, a graphic designer. Previously, Sara, or Sally, as people often called her, had been using a graphite pencil to make her own graphite transfer paper by hand. This method was inefficient, so she enlisted a team of scientists to assist with the development of the first Saral Wax-free Transfer Paper.
Today, the paper that is utilized in making the Saral Transfer Paper is a lot better than what was used in the 50s, and it’s available is five different colors – red, blue, yellow, white, and graphite.
If you love wax-free transfer paper, this is the brand to look out for.
2. Pirate Face Tattoo
Started back in 2005, Pirate Face Tattoo has been one of the top transfer paper suppliers in both wholesale and retail bases.
If you’re into tattooing with transfer paper, this is the brand to consider. There are many brands out there, but when it comes to quality, the transfer paper that the Pirate Face Tattoo provides is unmatched.
Moreover, this brand’s prices are some of the most affordable in the market, and their customer service is dope as well.
3. EKSuccess Brands
The EKSuccess Brands began in 1988 as a brand that is slightly different from the rest. It is many brands in one, and thus, by buying from it, you get to tap into the benefits that several brands have to offer.
The brand’s products span a wide variety of categories from scrapbooks, inks, needle felting items, and 3D embellishments to stickers and transfer papers.
With this brand’s exceptional transfer papers, there’s no limit to exploring the world of design.
4. Vinyl Frog
If there’s one thing that the UK is known for, it is quality, and the UK-based brand Vinyl Frog offers you nothing short of that.
This brand is one of the most reputable transfer paper and vinyl brands in the world, offering you not just quality but variety as well. Take a look at their online store, and you’ll see what an amazing array of design supplies they got right there.
5. Art Brands
Based in Ohio, Art Brands has more than 20 years of experience in heat transfer. With its transfer business built around animals, nature, women’s fashion, and more, quality and fashion are a guarantee.
This brand prides itself on innovation. Having developed a transfer paper that surpasses direct print in a few aspects including longevity and aesthetic value, it lays a robust foundation for anyone in the business of heat transfer who wants to offer their clients true value.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What sort of paper is a transfer paper?
Transfer paper is a thin paper coated with a film made of pigment and wax. This special paper is typically used in arts and crafts and textile projects, and usually, an inkjet printer is used to print images on it.
2. Can I use any printer to print transfer paper?
No, you can’t. There are various types of transfer papers, and each type has the sort of printer that prints it. For instance, inkjet transfer paper is printed only with an inkjet printer, while sublimation transfer paper is printed only with a sublimation printer.
There are also plastisol transfer papers, which are typically printed with a screen-printer.
Trying to print a transfer paper with the wrong printer normally ruins the transfer paper or even the printer so be sure to use the right printer and ink. The transfer paper should come with instructions on what type of printer to use.
3. What happens when I use a laser printer to print inkjet transfer paper?
If the inkjet transfer paper is designed for use with either an inkjet or a laser printer, nothing will happen apart from the fact that you will have a splendid design printed on the paper. If, however, the paper is labeled as only compatible with an inkjet printer, then problems might arise.
Because inkjet papers aren’t designed to tolerate high temperatures the paper’s coating could contaminate the laser printer and damage it.
4. Which side of the transfer paper should I print on?
A good number of transfer papers have grids on one side, indicating the side that is not printable.
If there are no grids, then there are various ways of determining the printable side. It’s likely to be whiter and glossier than the side that’s not printable. Moreover, if you mark a corner slightly on the printable side, the mark will stay solid and sharp, whereas, on the other side, it will spread and smudge.
5. So, what happens to my transfer if I print on the wrong side?
The transfer will simply not be a good sight. The image might appear mottled and washed out, and you will need to do the transfer once more.
6. Can I use transfer paper to decorate other items apart from fabrics?
Yes, sublimation transfers are often used to decorate hard objects like ceramic cups, mugs, and tiles, phone covers, and so forth. Just make sure that you review the instructions because hard substrates aren’t the same.
7. What types of fabrics can I decorate with transfer paper?
It all depends on the transfer paper you’re using. For inkjet transfer paper, only cotton and cotton-blend fabrics are compatible.
If you’re using sublimation transfer paper, then you’ll want to use only polyester and polyester blends. When using plastisol transfer paper, there’s more flexibility as you can print on cotton, polyester, or their blends.
8. How long should I wait after printing to peel and do the transfer?
Normally, you don’t need to wait at all. You can do the transfer immediately.
9. How long should I wait to peel the backing paper?
That depends on the nature of the transfer paper. For instance, if the paper is labeled as cold peel, then you’ll need to let the transfer cool down before peeling it. To speed up the process, you can place the mug in lukewarm water, and of course, this is possible only with mugs.
In contrast, if the paper is labeled as hot peel, you can peel it immediately after making the transfer.
We hope you’ve enjoyed checking out this review of the best transfer paper for a heat press. We did our best to present to you products that are not only great in quality but also durable, versatile, and affordable.
We’re convinced that by picking any of those ten, your work will be easier, faster, and above all, smarter.
Before you pick any of them, first go through the features and ensure that’s what you actually need because you could find that one is meant for light-colored fabrics while another is meant for dark-colored ones.
We wish you all the best in your design endeavors.