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Our guide to inkjet and laser heat transfer paper

Heat transferring allows you to create your own custom clothing, bags, mouse pads and other substrates. Simply design the image you want, print it onto one of our heat transfer papers and transfer it onto your item. It’s easy as that! Before you start, consider the following factors to ensure that you choose the right heat transfer paper. All of our product pages have yolö product feature icons which designed to make it easier to select and compare our heat transfer products. Simply roll your cursor over the icon to show a brief description or visit the yolö icons explained page for more detailed information.

Light or Dark Fabric?
A4 or A3 Size?
Inkjet or Laser Printer?
Iron On or Heat Press?
Hot or Cold Peel?
1 or 2 Step Process?
Mirror or Right Image?

Accessories?


Light or Dark Fabric?

Different coloured fabrics require different types of heat transfer papers. A fabric that is white, ash grey, or eggshell coloured will require a heat transfer paper for Lights. For anything other than those colours, you will need to use a heat transfer paper for Darks. 

Transfer paper for Lights has a clear background. This means
 that when using heat transfer paper for Lights, the garment colour will show through the transfer to a certain extent. This is more pronounced when using inkjet heat transfer paper as inkjet ink is more translucent than laser toner. You are, in essence, printing your image on top of a clear layer. This clear background is not very noticeable but if you want professional results, you may want to trim away unprinted areas before applying the transfer to your garment.

Example of heat transfer paper for Lights on white, pink and blue fabric:
(images from www.cafepress.co.uk)

Example HeatTransfer Paper for Lights on WHITEExample HeatTransfer Paper for Lights on PINKExample HeatTransfer Paper for Lights on BLUE

In order to have your image show up on dark fabric, heat transfer papers for Dark fabrics have a white background to hide the colour of the fabric. You are, in essence, printing your image on top of a white layer and as a result, the opaque paper tends to have a thicker feeling. Due to the white background on the opaque paper, trimming around your image is essential if you want  your item look professional. You can either use a contour cutter to do this or trim by hand with scissors or a craft knife.


A4 or A3 Size?

The majority of yolö heat transfer papers are available in A4 and A3 sizes. The size of paper you choose will be determined by two factors:
1.  The size of paper your printer will accept - some smaller printers will only accept up to A4 paper).
2.  The size of your image and the item you are pressing onto - whilst A4 is may be suitable for a small or medium t shirt, A3 may be better for a larger sized t shirt.

A4 = 210mm x 297mm = 8.27” x 11.69"
A3 = 297mm x 420mm = 11.69" x 16.54"


Inkjet or Laser Printer?

Each heat transfer paper is designed for use with a desktop inkjet printer, laser printer or colour laser copier (CLC). In order to choose which transfer paper is right for you, it is important to consider which of the following factors are more important to you.

Inkjet Laser
Quality of print ***** ***
Ease of set up ***** ***
Cost of ink replenishment * *****
Speed of printing * *****
Heat transfer paper selection ***** ***
Heat transfer paper compatibility ***** ***

* Good   *** Better   ***** Best

Although laser printers are most cost effective and time efficient, the downside is that they run hot which can increase the chances of jamming. To help you find the most suitable transfer paper for your printer, we offer both a Laser Sample Pack and Inkjet Sample Pack. Each pack contains 4 different types of heat transfer paper so that you can find one that will run through your printer with ease. Please note that only specific heat transfer papers will work on laser printers or CLCs that use fuser oil so it is important to check your printer specifications.

Dye based or pigment inks?
You may be aware that you can use two types of ink in an inkjet printer - dye based or pigment ink. Generally, inkjet printers come with dye based inks so you'll need to check your printer specifications to see if it is compatible with pigment inks. Epson printers are highly regarded by users of pigment inks but there are other brands of printer which are just as good. Although dye based inks will deliver perfectly acceptable results, tests have shown that higher quality and longer-lasting transfers are produced with pigment inks and this is especially true on cotton or poly blends. Many people will start off using dye based inks and then switch over to pigment inks at a later stage.

What is self-weeding paper?
Standard heat transfer papers have a polymer background which is transferred with the printed image. This background is clear where the heat transfer paper is designed for light fabrics and white where the paper is designed for dark fabrics. Heat transfer paper for darks has a white background in order to hide the colour of the fabric. For best results, you'll want to trim away the unprinted areas or background before pressing the transfer onto your substrate. Removing the unwanted areas of film is know as weeding. Self-weeding heat transfer papers eliminate the need for trimming as they will  only transfer the polymer background within the printed areas. All self-weeding papers require the use of a laser printer. Self-weeding papers can be trickier to use but once you get the hang of it, they can be a very quick and efficient way to transfer text and images.


Iron On or Heat Press?

Many inkjet transfer papers can be applied using an iron or heat press but the majority of laser transfer papers are designed for heat press application only. It takes extreme heat and pressure to transfer the image evenly and completely to the fabric. This is why most transfer papers work best with a heat press. Heat presses are recommended for a more professional and durable result simply because most domestic hand irons cannot reach the temperatures required for a reliable transfer. If you do not have a heat press then we recommend trying yolö Inkjet Iron-On which is an inkjet heat transfer paper specifically designed for hand iron application.


Hot or Cold Peel?

The main difference between hot and cold peel is the way in which the transfer are applied. When applying cold-peel transfers, the paper is not removed until the ink and garment have cooled. The entire ink layer adheres to the T-shirt. The main characteristics of cold peel transfers are that they have excellent opacity; they are usually quite stiff and have a smooth or glossy look. In contrast, hot peel transfers involve removing the paper while the transfer is still hot. Some products can be peeled hot or cold and the temperature at which the paper is removed will affect the finish. Peeling cold tends to leave a glossy finish whilst peeling hot will result in more of a matte finish.


1 or 2 Step Process?

Heat transfers are applied using either a one or two step process with the number of steps being determined by the type of product. In general, all of our papers are one step apart from our Laser Image Clip range of commercial transfers.


Mirror or Right image?

The best way to tell whether you should mirror your image for a specific type of transfer paper is to read the instructions or look for the ‘mirror image’ icon on our product pages. The general rule is that you mirror the image for light transfer papers but not for dark transfer papers. However, there are exceptions to this rule so always check the instructions. Transfer artwork can be designed using almost any graphics program. Ideally the program will have an option to mirror or reverse the image for transfer printing but it is possible to manually reverse the image in the document.


Heat Transfer Accessories?
You will need a printer to print your image and a heat press or hand iron to apply your transfer. If you are using opaque transfer paper then we recommend using a reusable yolö Teflon sheet or disposable silicone sheets to protect your heat press platen or iron.