Are you confused by all of the Cricut vinyl types? Learn the differences between each type of vinyl and its uses.
You might also like this post comparing the Cricut Maker and the Silhouette Cameo 3.
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Cricut Vinyl Types: Which Vinyl Should I Use?
Vinyl can be broken into 2 categories: regular and iron-on (or heat transfer.) Each category has sub-categories, which I will explain.
Regular vinyl is kind of like a sticker or decal and can be applied to smooth surfaces.
Iron-on vinyl requires heat to make it stick and is applied to soft surfaces (typically fabric, like t-shirts.)
Vinyl has a white backing and iron-on vinyl doesn’t.
Please note that there are many other vinyl brands available, such as Siser, Oracle, Silhouette, and smaller brands like Expressions Vinyl and Cuttables.
For the sake of brevity, I’m only writing about the Cricut brand vinyl types. Otherwise, we would be here all day! This post is long enough as it is!
You can use any vinyl brand with your Cricut.
Vinyl Types Explained
As explained above, regular vinyl can be used on any smooth surface. There are different types, permanence levels, patterns, and textures.
Most vinyl varieties are available in permanent or removable.
As far as I can tell, permanent is glossy (unless you choose metallic or shimmer.) Removable vinyl is matte.
Smart vinyl has a matte finish.
I just wrote a post all about smart materials and smart vinyl.
|Vinyl Type||What is it?||Uses||Machine|
|Basic||acetate (clear plastic)||3D boxes, frames, etc||all|
|Premium||easy weed vinyl||labels, decals, signs, mugs, etc||all|
|Permanent||longer lasting||outside projects, mugs, etc||all|
|Removable||can be removed||wall decals, labels, etc||all|
|Adhesive Foil||metallic (removable)||decals, labels, signs||all|
|Mosaic||mosaic patterned||decals, mugs, signs, etc||all|
|Patterned||patterned||signs, decals, mugs, home decor||all|
|Specialty||special types like glitter, stencil, outdoor glossy||home decor, signs, etc||all|
|Smart Vinyl||can be used without a mat||decals, signs, home decor||Cricut Maker 3, Cricut Explore 3, and Cricut Joy|
|Transfer Tape||used to transfer designs to surfaces||anything||all|
What is it? Basic vinyl was the default option for vinyl. This category now shows packs of acetate (clear plastic), which is not vinyl at all.
What is it used for? Use acetate to make 3D boxes, card overlays, gift wrap, and other home decor items.
What is it? Premium vinyl is like basic vinyl, but it lies flatter without bubbling. It’s also easier to weed.
It comes in a variety of options, including both removable and permanent versions and metallics, patterns, and holographic foils.
What is it used for? Use premium vinyl to make a variety of DIY projects.
What is it? Permanent vinyl has permanent adhesive that lasts up to 3 years.
What is it used for? Use permanent vinyl for outside projects, mugs, or signs.
I used permanent vinyl to make this DIY tumbler.
What is it? Removable vinyl can be removed from surfaces for up to years without leaving residue.
What is it used for? Use removable vinyl to make removable labels, decals, and other DIY projects.
Adhesive Foil Vinyl
What is it? Adhesive foil vinyl has the look of metallic foil. It comes in both matte and shiny varieties. Adhesive foil is a removable foil.
What is it used for? Use adhesive vinyl to make removable labels, decals, and other DIY projects.
What is it? Mosaic vinyl is a metallic permanent vinyl with a mosaic-inspired pattern. It comes in metallic and foil varieties. The mosaic shape also varies.
What is it used for? Use mosaic vinyl to make mugs, indoor projects, and decorative glassware.
What is it? Patterned vinyl is a removable vinyl that is available in a variety of patterns, including licensed characters from Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel to name a few. There are also basic patterns like florals, plaids, and stripes.
What is it used for? Use patterned vinyl to add patterns to home decor and other craft projects.
What is it? Specialty vinyl is the category for fun textures and uses. These include glitter vinyl, stencil vinyl, and outdoor glossy. Specialty vinyl can be either removable or permanent, depending on the type.
What is it used for? Use for a variety of home decor projects, depending on the permanence level.
What is it? Smart vinyl can be used without a mat. It’s also dishwasher-friendly.
When I first wrote this post, it was only for the Cricut Joy. Since then, there is a larger version that is compatible with the Cricut Maker 3 and the Cricut Explore 3.
The Cricut Joy version is just 5.5″ wide and comes in both removable and permanent options, plus a variety of colors and textures.
The larger version is 13″ x 3′. It is available in both removable and permanent options, as well as a variety of colors and textures. There are also sampler packs.
What is it used for? Use Smart vinyl on projects without a mat if your machine is compatible with that capability.
What is it? Transfer tape is used to transfer vinyl designs from the backing sheet to the surface. Despite the name, it comes in a rolled format, just like vinyl. It has a grid to help line up your design.
What is it used for? Transfer tape is used to place vinyl designs onto surfaces.
Iron-On Vinyl Types Explained
Iron-on vinyl (called heat transfer vinyl by other brands) is used on soft surfaces like fabrics. It can also be used on wood.
|Iron-on Types||What is it?||Uses||Machine|
|Everyday||default iron-on vinyl||fabric surfaces||all|
|Designs||ready cut designs||fabric surfaces||N/A|
|Express||2X as fast to apply||fabric surfaces||all|
|Foil||shiny metallic||fabric surfaces||all|
|Holographic||multi-color look||fabric surfaces||all|
|Mesh||mesh (has tiny holes or shapes cut out)||fabric surfaces||all|
|Mosaic||mosaic patterned||fabric surfaces||all|
|Patterned||patterned iron-on||fabric surfaces||all|
|Smart Iron-on||Can be used without a mat in certain machines||fabric surfaces||Cricut Joy, Cricut Maker 3,|
and Cricut Explore 3
Everyday Iron-On Vinyl
What is it? Everyday iron-on vinyl is the default iron-on vinyl. It comes in a variety of colors including metallics.
What is it used for? Everyday iron-on vinyl is used for t-shirts, fabrics, and other soft surfaces.
What is it? Designs are pre-cut vinyl designs. They can be used without owning a cutting machine.
What is it used for? Designs can be used on t-shirts, throw pillows, tote bags, tea towels, and more.
Express Iron-On Vinyl
What is it? Express iron-on vinyl can be applied 2X faster than everyday iron-on vinyl.
What is it used for? Express iron-on vinyl is used for apparel, tote bags, home decor, and more.
Foil Iron-On Vinyl
What is it? Foil iron-on vinyl is metallic iron-on with a shiny look.
What is it used for? Foil iron-on vinyl is used for apparel, tote bags, home decor, and more.
Glitter Iron-On Vinyl
What is it? Glitter iron-on vinyl adds glitter to your projects. It comes in a variety of colors, including neons!
What is it used for? Glitter iron-on vinyl is used for apparel, tote bags, home decor, and more.
Holographic Iron-On Vinyl
What is it? Holographic iron-on vinyl has a multi-color look. It comes in regular, sparkle, and mosaic designs.
What is it used for? Holographic iron-on vinyl is used for apparel, tote bags, home decor, and more.
Mesh Iron-On Vinyl
What is it? Mesh iron-on vinyl is vinyl with a mesh look. It has small holes cut into the vinyl. Mesh vinyl comes in a variety of colors including metallics.
What is it used for? Mesh iron-on vinyl is used for apparel, tote bags, home decor, and more.
Mosaic Iron-On Vinyl
What is it? Mosaic iron-on vinyl has a metallic design that resembles mosaics. The shapes on the mosaic design can vary. It’s available in a variety of colors.
What is it used for? Mosaic iron-on vinyl is used for apparel, tote bags, home decor, and more.
Patterned Iron-On Vinyl
What is it? Patterned iron-on vinyl comes in a variety of designs. Like regular vinyl, the designs range from licensed characters to typical designs like florals and other patterns.
What is it used for? Patterned iron-on vinyl is used for apparel, tote bags, home decor, and more.
SportsFlex Iron-On Vinyl
What is it? SportsFlex iron-on vinyl is made specifically for sportswear. It’s made to stretch with activewear. SportsFlex comes in a variety of colors including metallics.
What is it used for? SportsFlex iron-on vinyl is used for sportswear made of polyester and nylon.
Smart Iron-On Vinyl
What is it? Smart iron-on vinyl is made to use without a mat.
It is available for the Cricut Joy in a smaller size of 5.5″ wide, as well as a larger size that is compatible with the Cricut Maker 3 and the Cricut Explore 3.
What is it used for? Smart iron-on vinyl can be cut without a mat and is used for smaller home decor and apparel crafts.
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