Are you looking for the best printable vinyl for stickers? Making stickers but not getting the results that you want? Choosing the right paper or vinyl for your project is key to getting the best looking, best sticking and most durable stickers possible. This is most important if you are selling them but can be just as important if you are really into making your own.
Today we’re focusing on printable vinyl only. I’m going to talk about 9 brands of printable vinyl and how they measured up against each other. I’ll reveal a winner and runner-up in the matte and glossy category and one budget pick. I’ll talk about how they printed and cut, their sturdiness and stickiness, and how they held up with water.
Let’s get started!
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I chose four glossy and five matte printable vinyl, and one holographic sticker paper just for the fun of it. The glossy papers are J&J Packaging, HTVRont, AIVA, Zicoto, and Uokho. Uokho is the holographic waterproof sticker paper. For the matte papers, I chose Orajet 1917, Joyeza, Expressions Vinyl Printable Vinyl, Cricut Printable Vinyl and Silhouette Printable Vinyl.
Let’s get into some characteristics of the paper. All of them are vinyl except one; the holographic. It’s paper and listed as waterproof. The Zicoto and and AIVA are listed as water resistant, and the J&J Packaging is listed as tear and scratch resistant. All are quite popular, highly rated and used by many.
So how do they feel? Well, the ones with the highest sheen tended to feel a bit rougher than the ones with a bit less sheen. The J&J Packaging and HTVRont felt nice and smooth and the best of the glossies. The matte tended to feel the same since there was no gloss to make them feel slicker. I will say, though, that when using the brayer after printing to press the vinyl down to the mat, AIVA, and HTVRont were surprisingly quite tacky, as in sticky, even though HTVRont had a good feel to it before printing. A few had non-blank backings; the Zicoto, Orajet 1917 and Cricut Printable Vinyl.
I want to mention the Cricut Printable Vinyl specifically. The first thing I noticed was the ink. It was feathering and bleeding and some of the straight lines were blurred. I cut it on the rice paper setting and that did fine. So, I tried a second time and cut it on the washi tape 0.06 mm setting to see how it would do compared to the rice paper setting since it’s a medium thickness vinyl and it did well with it. When I printed it, it came out wet and required drying time. It’s the only paper that came out wet. There were a few spots that were missing ink, and it was noticeable. And again, there were feathered and bleeding areas around some of the stickers and the lines were not sharp and they were blurry.
To reiterate, the washi tape 0.06 mm cut settings did really well it did with the medium thickness vinyl. I used more pressure and the kiss cut came out perfectly. So you can give that a try if the rice paper setting doesn’t work well for you, or start with that right out of the gate. Just so you know, the reason I went with rice paper this time is because I haven’t had the best luck in the past with the regular washi tape setting, so I was surprised at how well it worked with this vinyl. But from now on, I think my go to is going to be the washi tape 0.06mm setting.
Let’s cover vibrancy, or, how they looked—the matte first, as it was the most interesting. I’ll get right to it; one paper stood leaps and bounds above the rest as one of the best printable vinyl, and I was surprised that there was that much of a difference. It was the Silhouette brand. What caught my attention was the van sticker windshield. There are streaks in it of yellow in it. They were almost imperceptible in all of the other brands except two, and it was very visible in Silhouette. So, I compared the windshield and other stickers to the other brands and the color of each sticker was more saturated and bright than the others. The only other vinyl that came close was Expressions Vinyl brand.
You will pay for the quality of these printable vinyl brands, though. Silhouette is the most expensive and Expressions Vinyl comes in at a dollar a sheet. I’ll talk about prices in a minute. But if you’re serious about stickers, you won’t balk at the price tag of Silhouette because there’s no comparison to be had. And if you’re selling stickers, the quality of your stickers will be superb. There’s no loss of quality either with a transparent vinyl liner on top to give it gloss and protection so take that into consideration when you choose your sticker brand.
Winners and Runners Up
I had a bit of trouble choosing a best printable vinyl winner and runner up for the glossies, but we did get it done. I enlisted some other opinions because my eye was not as discerning as others. We were of two minds as to the best of the glossies. If you want a glossy gloss, go for the Zicoto. It has a high gloss, nice vibrancy and it cuts beautifully on the rice paper setting with more pressure. If you like a more demi-gloss, go for the HTVRont. It, too, prints and cuts great and looks beautiful.
Now, I picked a budget buy in case you really like the Zicoto like I do but want to save some money. I like the J&J Packaging brand as a less expensive brand if you’re making your own but want to do so and save a little bit and don’t want to use HTVRont. It also has a super high sheen to it if you want extra some extra gloss; almost an oil sheen. It’s more expensive than the HTVRont but it is a little better quality overall in the sturdiness category. And don’t forget; if you’re planning on putting laminate or transparent vinyl on them to make them waterproof, it’s really all about the vibrancy, print and cut anyway, because the sheen will come from that. My suggestion? Try the Zicoto unless you need a blank backing. If so, then try both HTVRont and J&J packaging and see which one you like best.
So just to go over them again; your best printable vinyl winners and runners up for matte are Silhouette and Expressions Vinyl, and Zicoto and HTVRont with a budget pick of J&J Packaging for glossies.
Want to learn more about vinyl? Check out The Best Permanent Vinyl for Cricut!
They vinyl range in price from 36 cents to $1.74 a sheet. Some have really great packaging that can be reused, and some have terrible packaging that need to be replaced after opening the package. Silhouette came in at the most expensive: $1.74 a sheet, and HTVRont as the least expensive at 36¢ a sheet on April 11, 2022.
The cost of the printable vinyl breaks down as follows (priced on 4/11/2022);
- Uokho (Holographic): 20 sheets for $13.00
- Zicoto (Glossy): 15 sheets for $12.00
- AIVA (Glossy): 15 for $13.75
- HTVRont (Glossy): 40 sheets for $14.59
- J&J Packaging (Glossy): 15 for 8.99
- Orajet 1917 (Matte): $1.50 a sheet
- Cricut Printable (Matte): 10 for $12.49
- Joyeza (Matte): 25 for $16.97
- Expressions Vinyl (Matte): $1.00 a sheet
- Silhouette (Matte): 8 sheets for $13.00
Now that we’ve covered best printable vinyl winners, runners up and pricing, let’s get more specific.
My printer is the Canon TS9521C All-In-One Wireless Crafting Photo Printer. I really like this printer. It does use ink quickly though, but I find it not to be too expensive. I printed on photo glossy, high quality.
All of the glossies came out dry except the Cricut brand; all but the Cricut brand of them needed additional time out of the printer. I do have a rear feeding tray and I used that for all of them because some of the vinyl is a little thicker or has thicker backing than others. I’ve heard that some sticker vinyl doesn’t feed well from the tray and I can believe it. Some of these vinyl with backing were pretty thick. Also, I wouldn’t want to bend them. So I recommend a printer with a rear feed tray. I didn’t have any issues with bleed or poor printing such as fuzzy lines except with the Cricut brand.
As for cutting, I used the rice paper setting, or rice paper setting with more pressure, for all the vinyl except when I put transparent vinyl on top for waterproofing, which was Oracal 651 or Craftables Transparent Vinyl. Then I used the glossy vinyl, permanent setting. The rice paper setting asked for the deep cut blade but I didn’t use it; I used the fine point blade instead since I wanted kiss cuts.
I used a Cricut Maker 3, and it read the registration marks on all of the glossy vinyl, but I was in normal light with some shadowing. On one, I cut a glossy sheet in high level lighting, and it still read the registration marks just fine. I used more pressure on the Zicoto, HTVRont and AIVA. The Uokho wouldn’t cut correctly with more pressure and two passes, so I ended up cutting it on sticker paper which gave it a die cut, or a cut all the way through making individual stickers.
For many, the cut was fine. But for two, even with more pressure, it wasn’t quite enough to make it easy to peel the stickers off.
The glossy vinyl Zicoto and HTVRont are thin stickers no matter how thick or thin their backing paper is, and the rice paper setting with more pressure was perfect for them. Both were cut with more pressure. Of course, their thinness becomes less of an issue when you put transparent vinyl on top, but it still made them perfect for thinner materials like paper and phone cases
The AIVA and Silhouette needed second passes on the rice paper setting with more pressure. I tried the Silhouette vinyl a second time on the Washi 0.06 mm washi tape setting with more pressure and it came out very similar to Rice paper with more pressure; maybe a tiny bit cleaner, but it only needed one pass. So, I would recommend this setting instead of Rice paper with more pressure.
The matte vinyl Orajet 1917 wasn’t anything to write home about, especially with its cost, but the rice paper setting worked well for it. We already discussed the Cricut brand, and the Joyeza, was very comparable to the J&J and Expressions Vinyl. The J&J Packaging won out over Joyeza because it is a bit less expensive than the Joyeza and just a bit glossier. But you would be hard-pressed to dislike it, even side-by-side, and if you can’t get J&J packaging because it is out of stock, Joyeza would make a fine substitute as a backup brand.
A note about the transparent vinyl I used: I found the Craftables brand easier to work with than the Oracal 651. I didn’t try any laminate this time, only because the Avery brand that most people use was out of stock for awhile and I couldn’t get my hands on it. I also liked the fact that I could try 651 which has some UV protection to it. Oracal also makes Oracal 210 and Oracal 236 UV protection laminating film that may be worth it to try. 210 is lighter and 236 is rated for harsher outdoor weather. If you have tried it, please let us know your experience with either or both in the comments.
I ran a number of sturdiness tests a couple of ways. The items I chose to put the stickers on were the back of an iPad, a phone case, some envelopes, a tumbler, and a glass jar. I tested for peeling, tearing, scratching, indenting how hard it was to remove from its backing and how hard it was remove from the item.
When I talk about our best printable vinyl winners and runners up, Zicoto, HTVRont, Silhouette and Expressions Vinyl, I am talking about those with the transparent vinyl on them. Because in almost every case, you are going to want to use the sticker with the vinyl on it for waterproofing, or to make them glossy. If it’s one of the winning vinyl without the transparent vinyl on top, I’ll mention it.
To test for peeling, I picked at each sticker with my fingernails hard. I was able to get a few to lift. Most people wouldn’t be doing this, so it’s more representative of how sturdy the sticker is over time getting knocked around. And I picked at them very, very hard. Of our winners, the HTVRont, Expressions Vinyl and Silhouette would not peel. The Zicoto and J&J Packaging did peel, as did the Uokho holographic. So those are a little more sensitive than the others.
As for tearing, I couldn’t at all tear the Zicoto or the Silhouette. They would rather have stretched out than tear, and I gave it all my might. The Expressions Vinyl was extremely difficult to tear also. But the HTVRont tore easily, even with the transparent vinyl on it. I also couldn’t tear the budget pick, J&J Packaging even without the transparent vinyl. The Cricut printable vinyl tore like paper, and the Orajet 1917 wouldn’t tear at all. I couldn’t tear the Joyeza also.
As for scratching and indenting, it was a mixed bag. I can’t recommend the holographic Uokho at all. The scratching and indents were so bad I immediately gave it a non-recommendation. The Zicoto had almost no scratching and no idents, while the HTVRont had no scratches, and it was hard to indent it. I couldn’t scratch the Expressions Vinyl and there was little to no indentations when I tried, and the Silhouette had little or no scratches and almost no indentations when I tried to destroy it. As for the others, The AIVA looked good with no scratching but had a moderate number of indentations. J&J had no scratches but an average amount of indentations, Orajet had scratches but no indentations. Cricut had both and Joyeza had neither.
How hard was it to remove these stickers from their backing? Well, most of these were cut on the rice paper setting, some with more pressure. The easiest ones were the Zicoto, HTVRont, Silhouette, J&J Packaging and Joyeza. The one that was really difficult was the Expressions Vinyl with and without transparent vinyl on top. It really needed a different setting than rice paper with more pressure without the transparent vinyl, and the glossy permanent vinyl setting with the transparent vinyl topper. It’s a thick vinyl, and it becomes super thick with transparent vinyl on top. I might have cardstock with less pressure next. I didn’t get the opportunity to try, as I only had two sheets.
As for removing stickers from the objects, the only one of the winners and runners up that I could not get off was the Expressions Vinyl. That sticker was on to stay. The rest removed after a bit of work. This included the Zicoto, AIVA, HTVRont, J&J, and Silhouette.
Water Resistance and Waterproofing
Last, the water tests. I let all of the stickers set for 24 hours, then I tested heavy water resistance and water proofing. For water resistance, I sprinkled water all over the tumbler several times and let it bead up and dry naturally in between and took notes. Then, I hand washed them for a long time three separate times, let them dry in between, then took notes.
For waterproof testing, I submerged the phone case for five minutes in a tub of water. I only tested the stickers with the transparent vinyl topper on for waterproofing as the only product that indicated waterproofing was the Uokho holographic, and I had already ruled them out as a decent sticker option.
From the very first water test (sprinkle), the Silhouette sticker without the transparent vinyl on top lost all of its ink. If you are going to use Silhouette stickers (and they are superior in vibrancy) you will want to use laminate or transparent vinyl over them to make them water resistant and waterproof.
From there, the other stickers that did not have transparent vinyl—HTVRont, Zicoto, Expressions Vinyl—all of them did not bead, but their ink didn’t run either. They also didn’t feel wet, and no water got underneath them. So they showed pretty good water resistance.
The stickers that did have transparent vinyl, other copies of Zicoto, HTVRont, Expressions Vinyl and Silhouette behaved as expected. They all beaded up beautifully and did not run. No water got underneath them. Overall, the only sticker that did not meet the test was the Silhouette without any protective cover, such as transparent vinyl or laminate.
The Expressions Vinyl sticker is super thick, so I felt like it wasn’t a good fit on the tumbler. I liked the HTVRont with the transparent vinyl. It had a nice gloss, and it’s a thin sticker, so it felt good on. The Zicoto is a little thicker but also feels good on the tumbler with the transparent vinyl topper.
Now let’s talk about waterproofing. I tested the four best printable vinyl winners and runners up that have transparent vinyl as a topper. I submerged them in water on a phone case for 5 full minutes. I pulled it out and dried it off. I further let it dry completely, because I learned that AIVA, without any transparent vinyl or laminate on top, will scratch off unless you let it dry set again.
Here are my findings for the four best printable vinyl winners and runners up. All four produced the same results. There was no lifting, peeling or loss of color. I couldn’t scratch anything off of them. I couldn’t pull them off the phone case. They were stuck on there just as they were before. They looked great and were shiny and glossy. Everything was just as it was before I put them in water. The only thing I learned is that maybe some stickers (AIVA, which was not a winner or runner up) will reset their colors after a big dunk if you let them dry long enough—and that was by accident.
The paper behaved as expected. As an envelope backing, they worked great. Perfect for closing wedding or party invitations, adding a little flair for example…When I tried to open the envelopes I tried very hard to keep them intact but they tore. I couldn’t get one to remove in one piece. So if you’re going to use any for planner stickers, you may want to take a look at some that are specifically removable if you need removables.
So, what did I learn? Well, I learned that if you want great stickers, you’re going to pay for them. I learned that glossy stickers are cheaper than matte and that most stickers are pretty hardy except for tearing. I was surprised at how easily the ones that tore, did, and was really surprised at how hard it was to tear the ones that wouldn’t or couldn’t be torn. There really was no middle ground. Almost all of the stickers had problems with indentations but not with scratching the color off. That surprised me too.
In the water department, I was surprised at how well the stickers with no topper stood up with water resistance, even when they weren’t listed as water resistant.
Overall, for the best printable vinyl, I’m most satisfied with and like the Silhouette brand for matte and the Zicoto brand for glossies, but as a backup I will use the J&J Packaging if I can’t get the Zicoto brand. But there are several other options as runner up that are almost as good. The HTVRont is a great choice, but I will use it with laminate or transparent vinyl to give it extra support. It does have a fabulous price point. The Expressions Vinyl brand is a really good vinyl as well and it would be my number one choice for heavy duty stickers, like bumper stickers or anything that required weather proofing or outdoor use, particularly when you add an outdoor transparent vinyl like Oracal 651. But I won’t use it indoors because it is so thick.
If you have any comments or I’ve left anything out, please comment. I love to hear from y’all. Until then, happy happy crafting!