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Craft Vinyl Types Explained

by Tanya McCarthy 17 Sep 2019

What does HTV mean? What is Oracal? What type of vinyl is permanent? What is the best vinyl for outside? What is the best vinyl for vehicles? Boats? Signs? What vinyl is good for wall decals?

Do any of these questions ring a bell!?!?!? I know when I first started out and saw all of these acronyms and brands I had NO CLUE what I was doing. I decided to put the different vinyl types in a handy guide.

Craft Vinyl 101 time! There are two main types of Vinyl, adhesive and heat transfer vinyl. I'll explain both below. Both are available in sheets or rolls, generally 12-15" wide for the typical home cutting machine. Some sign warehouses sell vinyl in larger sizes. 

Adhesive Vinyl

Adhesive vinyl has a sticky background and can be used on basically any surface you can think of. For the most part it is permanent, but there are some non-permanent brands. Adhesive vinyl always has a paper backing on it for the most part. 

Some is meant for outdoor application and some is meant for indoor.  There is also stencil vinyl and other types of vinyl materials, which I will explain below. 

The most common type of vinyl people use for their crafting work, myself included, is Oracal 651. This is a large supplier of vinyl and it can be used on basically any surface and comes in a wide range of colors. 

There are other types of permanent vinyl that I will explain below. You can use Oracel 851 for outdoor applications and things like boats. 


Glitter is just that. GLITTER and who doesn't love a POP of glitter in their life? The glitter sheets are generally made by whatever person is supplying the vinyl. They come in many different colors as well. 

With the variety of colors you can really get creative with your products. 

Buy Now: Glitter Adhesive Vinyl


Patterned Vinyl is just what you think it is. Patterned with some sort of design on it. Again, I'm partial to Expressions Vinyl, however many places make a patterned vinyl. 

They're always coming out with new designs. Here are two of my favorites. 

With patterned vinyl you can really expand the typical sign making and craft making. 


Etched glass vinyl is made by certain suppliers. Expressions Vinyl carries an Etched glass Vinyl that is awesome on mirrors, beer and wine glasses, windows and basically anything you would see etching done.


Buy Now: Etched Glass Vinyl

You can get pretty creative with the above types of vinyl making your products really endless in terms of creativity and use. 

Other Vinyl

There are other types of permanent Vinyl like Metallic, Opal, and Specialty Vinyl. I will list some of them below. 

Opal Vinyl

Metallic Vinyl

Glow in the Dark


Each of these vinyl types has their own application and in all reality the options are endless.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

Heat Transfer Vinyl (also know as HTV by the crafting world), is what we use to make shirts and other items that cannot uphold their quality by washing. Not to mention the adhesive vinyl would not adhere to the material, like shirts and other household items (like bags and towels and what not). There are several brands and types out there with the major brand being Siser. I personally only use Siser Brand but everyone is different. 

HTV has a clear carrier sheet on the back of it. (This is where your iron or press goes) It needs to be mirrored when its cut and can be applied with an iron or a heat press. Some of it is more flexible while others are easier to weed. 

You can also get HTV in color, patterned, metallic, glow in the dark, and chalkboard materials. 

As stated below Siser is the most commonly known HTV brand and comes in a variesty of colors in the EasyWeed variety.

There are also patterns


And on and on. 

Purchasing really depends on what you're looking for, speed of delivery, or bang for your buck.

Please feel free to ask any questions below. 

Join my Facebook Group for more tips and tricks.


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