Cricut Vinyl Types Explained: Which Vinyl Should You Use?
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.
Looking for more Cricut posts? I also wrote a guide to Cricut mats and a tutorial for using the Cricut Easy Press.
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 used to be 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 their standard adhesive vinyl. (There used to be more categories.)
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 a 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, such as scales or squares. 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. Now 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.
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 multicolor 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 of 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.
You might also like:
- Cricut Storage Cart
- DIY Koozies with Iron-On Vinyl
- Places to Sell Cricut Crafts
- Gift Ideas for Cricut Crafters
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Emy is a vintage obsessed mama of 2 DIYer who loves sharing affordable solutions for common home problems. You don’t need a giant budget to create a lovely home. Read more…
Thanks for the info. Since you are using Cricut vinyls in this article, I’d like to ask what the difference is between their Printable Sticker Paper and Printable Vinyl. They are both removable. The only think I can think of is to use the sticker paper for small things and printable vinyl for larger decals, but I assume you could do these with both types of vinyl.
I just bought the sticker paper yesterday and the printable vinyl a few weeks ago. The sticker paper has a matte paper texture. If you’ve ever used label paper, it’s like that. It has a much thicker backing piece than the usual sticker paper I use. The printable vinyl feels like vinyl and is shiny. There’s also clear sticker paper. It’s closer to vinyl probably because it’s shiny.
I have a few questions
can you use cricut gel pins with transfer tape
Does permanent vinyl only come in glossy
whats the difference between permanent adhesive and just permanent vinyl
if I want a sihouette image in black I will need to use black vinyl correct
If i want something in color I can either use color vinyl or print it on my printer than have cricut cut it for me and depending on want I want to do can than use transfer tape
Sorry for all the questions but I have had my cricut for only a few weeks and am trying to learn about it quickly so I can start using it.
The gel pens are used to draw on paper. There are infusible ink pens that are used on paper and then can be ironed onto an item that is compatible with infusible ink.
Permanent vinyl also comes in pearl metallic, shimmer, holographic, and frosted. I didn’t see matte, but other brands do have it. I like Oracal.
I’m not sure about this question. It’s possible I wrote something wrong.
Yes, black for a silhouette.
Yes for colored vinyl or printable vinyl. I haven’t used my printable vinyl yet, so no advice there. There are also lots of other brands that sell different colors and patterns of vinyl. Transfer tape is just used to help you align the design onto the surface.
Hope you have fun learning! I’m in the process of moving and I can’t wait to play with my Cricut again.
Hello. I’m wanting to know if there is a thinner, less vinyl like iron-on transfer paper for cricut joy? I’m wanting to put names on bandanas for sweat rags for the kids’ team and don’t want the vinyl to be stiff and scratchy. Any suggestions? Thank you.
The closest thing to a thinner version that I know of is infusible ink, but it’s supposed to be used with Cricut blanks. I’ve heard that it works well on polyester clothing as well, but I haven’t tried it. Using fabric ink is another option.
HI there, I am looking to see what vinyl would be good for making decals for a hockey helmet. I am not sure if I should use permanent or removable.
For a hockey helmet, I would use permanent vinyl unless you have to give the helmets back after the season. (I’m not sure how that kind of thing works, so forgive my ignorance.) Even permanent vinyl can be removed if needed though.
I was looking at this post as I was particularly interested in the vinyls for making lables (my hubby has some projects he wants me to do for him) Anyway I bought some printable vinyl and now see that the Cricut Joy project I want to do is asking me to use WRITEABLE vinyl. But i cannot find anywhere some info to tell me if these are interchangeable? Can I use the printable vinyl to make the writeable labels in the Cricut Joy? (Cutting the sheets to size of course!
So the difference between the writable labels and the printable labels is that one is made for inkjet ink and writable is made for Cricut pens. In theory, they both should work. (My craft room is partially boxed up right now so I can’t check to see if they are different.) If the printable vinyl has a matte finish, I would try it out. You can also test the vinyl with a pen to see if it smears.