If you're actively using a heat press for home crafting or business purposes, you may have worked with heat transfer vinyl often but haven’t had the opportunity to press heat transfer paper. While the differences are clear between the two in that heat transfer paper can print full multi-colored images with a single sheet of paper, there are still some technicalities to keep in mind. For instance, what is the difference between light and dark heat transfer paper? Is there paper specifically for inkjet or laser printers, or how about for sublimation? We would like to answer such questions and cover more details about heat transfer paper that will give you a better idea of what options will best suit your needs.

Heat transfer paper is intended for use on garments or other substrates with cotton, cotton blend fabrics, or synthetic fabrics as polyester, nylon, and Lycra. Transfer paper can permanently transfer onto these substrates thanks to the polymer film able to bond the ink and fabric together. It is available in the standard U.S. letter and tabloid sizes of respectively 8-and-a-half by 11 inches and 11 by 17 inches. As mentioned earlier, using heat transfer paper can bring full color graphics of multiple layers down to a single sheet, making the process of pressing detailed images much easier and efficient than before. While some papers can transfer with no visible background or white space, for most we recommend to either cut paper transfers by hand or use the contour cutting feature of a vinyl cutter, also known as Print and Cut. But let’s go back our first question, what is the difference between light and dark heat transfer paper? More specifically, why are there two kinds of heat transfer paper available for printers? Light heat transfer paper is designed for pressing on white or lightly-colored fabrics, while dark transfer paper is for pressing on black or darkly-colored fabrics. Considering that printers do not need white ink for print jobs, light heat transfer paper uses the white or light color of the fabric as a substitute while dark transfer paper prints like normal paper, using the white of the paper itself hence why some are named opaque. Due to way light transfer paper is transferred, images must always be mirrored before printing them, but this will not be necessary for dark transfer paper prints. Whether you are transferring on mostly light or dark garments, or whether you use an inkjet or laser printer, be sure to always have the proper heat transfer paper ready for your garments and press your transfers firmly.

Moving onto the second question, there indeed is heat transfer paper specifically made for inkjet and laser printers. Inkjet transfer paper is best for any inkjet printer at home or work, likewise for laser transfer paper with laser printers. These papers are specific to their printers as inkjet transfer paper is designed to hold wet ink, while laser transfer paper can only hold toner. With inkjet heat transfer paper being as simple as either light or dark paper, laser transfer paper is further divided into single or full color and white toner papers. Single color laser transfer paper is compatible with both light and dark garments, while full color paper has separate light and dark offerings, similar to inkjet paper. White toner laser transfer papers are unique in that they are specifically made for white toner laser printers, typically printing transfers in one or multiple colors alongside having the ability to self-weed the background or blank space of the printed image. For both inkjet and laser transfer paper, we recommend to use the best available quality settings for printing, but keep in mind that over saturating the ink will cause it to bleed upon washing, and wait after a day before washing any garment just pressed with either transfer paper and do not dry clean the garment. Lastly, right after pressing any inkjet and single or full color laser transfer, we recommend lightly stretching the transfer on garments to build up its softness and durability.

So far we’ve covered what heat transfer papers are available for inkjet and laser printers, but did you know that sublimation papers are specifically for sublimation printers such as from Sawgrass, Ricoh, and EPSON? This is due to the unique ink of sublimation which will print a solid form of an image, which can then transfer onto a bright substrate through a gaseous state when heat pressed. With this in mind, we advise against using sublimation paper on basic inkjet and laser printers. The sublimation papers we offer for sublimation printers are TexPrint R for gel based inks, alongside TexPrint XPHR for water based inks. Both papers are compatible with any sublimation printer as the Sawgrass SG400 or SG800, but make sure to choose the paper compatible with the ink currently in the printer. If you would like to learn more about sublimation, visit our sublimation page to watch our guide video and browse our selection of sublimation products.

All-in-all, if you are frequently pressing detailed images or graphics onto garments or other substrates, heat transfer paper can deliver fine results with full color on just a single sheet. Even being limited to basic inkjet or laser printers still leaves you open with the opportunity to print with inkjet or laser transfer paper, just find the paper compatible with your printer and light or dark substrates, and remember that white toner laser transfer and sublimation paper will require different printers.

If you are interested in pressing with heat transfer paper soon, we offer sample packs for both inkjet and laser printers with a 3 sheet variety of around 18-21 sheets of paper for both bundles, essentially giving you a platter of heat transfer papers to try printing with and pressing:

Paropy and Neenah Inkjet Sample PackParopy and Neenah Laser Sample Pack

We hope we have introduced you well to heat transfer paper, and if you have any more questions about heat transfer paper, please contact us and we'll be sure to respond back to you within 24 hours or less.


Browse Our Selection of Heat Transfer Paper at HeatPressNation.com!