Best Iron On Transfer Paper – Best Heat Transfer Paper for DIY Projects

If you are looking for a way to create custom t-shirts, jumpers, and more with the help of a household iron, then look no further than iron on transfer paper. Iron on transfer paper is the perfect solution for DIY projects that will help image transfers from an inkjet printer paper onto your white T-shirt. It is easy and affordable to use, and the results are professional looking.

The process is easy. You print your favorite picture using an inkjet and laser type of printer. Then you can transfer your design onto your T-shirt when you apply heat using an iron. That’s all you need to do.

Below we have summarised the top 5 heat transfer papers for your DIY projects.

#1. Avery T-Shirt Transfers for Light Fabric

For those who are interested in the best iron on transfer paper, we highly recommend the Avery Light fabric transfers. This unique formula makes your colors stay on for longer and is much brighter and pop out more than other brands.

Creating your own t-shirts and whatnot is a very easy process and this iron-on transfer paper really makes doing it yourself a breeze.

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What to Look for When Choosing the Best Heat Transfer Paper

There are 7 main factors you may want to investigate when buying heat transfer sheet papers.

  1. Type of Printer – Laser or inkjet transfer
  2. Versatility
  3. Types of transfer paper
  4. Durability
  5. Size
  6. Ease of Use
  7. Material Color and Opacity

1. Type of printer for high-quality iron-on transfer paper

The first and foremost factor you need to take into account is to check your printer compatibility with the type of paper you’re going to use. In most cases, heat transfer paper only work with inkjet printers. However, in the last couple of years, some brands have developed special types of sheets that can be used with laser printers. This is because there are fewer and fewer inkjet printers and more laser ones. Note that there are a couple of heat transfer papers that require printers with sublimation ink. This is mainly to create a very high-quality transfer.

Inkjet printers

These are the type of home printers that we all have around (though this is changing). The good news is that there are hundreds of heat transfer paper products that are made exclusively for use in an inkjet printer. However, you still need to filter through these paper sheets and select the top ones (see below for the best papers). Having the right inkjet and paper will ensure that you transfer the design in the most efficient way.

Sublimation ink printers

This is a nice solution with a special ink that stays solid until printing. The way the sublimation work is simple. The printer heats the ink. This takes a little bit of time and the heat is applied til the ink becomes a gas that solidifies on the paper. What people like about sublimation ink printers is that they produce top-quality detailed images. And these last longer without fading. Note that there are inkjet printers that can be used with sublimation ink cartridges. If your printer cannot be fitted with a sublimation cartridge, then you’ll need to buy a new printer.

Laser printers

These are less commonly used at home and so there are very few paper options. One needs to keep watching this field as laser printers are currently being developed not only for commercial settings but also for homeowners.  As such, more papers are being produced specifically for laser solutions. However, laser-made papers still cost more than inkjet.

2. Versatility for best results

There are times when you may want to print onto hard surfaces. This requires more versatility than any standard heat transfer paper offers. What we mean is that most heat transfer paper is only for printing on soft surfaces like T-shirts, pillows, jumpers, sweaters, and other types of soft fabric. However, if you like to print your design on hard surfaces then you may need to use wet application transfer paper. These wet solutions are good for glassware or phone cases.

Wet application transfer

Any wet paper uses water, soap, and some limited pressure applied by a hand tool to print on a surface. Basically, you do not need heat. It’s definitely the right choice for printing on hard surfaces.

3. Method of Transfer

You’ll be pleased to learn that there are only two main methods to transfer an image onto a t-shirt using heat transfers. These are:

  • An ordinary household iron
  • Commercial heat presses

Standard household irons

Iron is an easy choice for household owners who enjoy making a couple of designs for themselves. The iron method is also really good for people who like to produce their own T-shirt gifts for their close friends and family. This is the simplest and most cost-effective method. You just need to apply heat and a little bit of pressure on the paper. Read the paper product instructions to transfer the design.

Commercial heat presses

These are a better choice if you want to make a living out of printing T-shirts, etc. Commercial presses are devices that are specifically made for use with heat transfer papers. They automatically apply the right amount of pressure and heat onto the paper. This is done evenly over small, medium, and even large surfaces. You’ll definitely get a better high-quality outcome.

4. Durability

This is self-explanatory. But what you are looking for is to get the best heat transfer paper with a long-lasting design on your T-shirt. You certainly do not want to print something on your T-shirt and after the first wash, this will fade away. So, our advice is to look for heat transfer paper that gives you a fast, easy image transfer while you still get a high level of elasticity. The aim is to avoid the design from cracking and peeling. It is known that there are brands delivering better design durability than others. This is mainly due to the type of polymers they’re using and coating with.

You also need to consider sunshine fade-resistant products. Basically, try to use a product with the lowest wearings and washings. Here is a nice tip: If you want your design to stay as new for as long as possible, then it would be a good idea to turn a shirt inside out before you put it to washing.

5. Paper size

Thermal transfer paper comes in different sizes. The most common is 8.5 inches by 11 inches. This is the standard size of a letter paper. There are larger sheets, but most of these will not fit your home printers. So before you embark on buying a paper, ensure you check your printer’s dimensions.

6. Ease of Use

Using heat transfer paper is easy. You just need to check that your transfer paper is compatible with your t-shirt printing device. For instance, you may be using a heat press, then choose a paper that is compatible with that press. On the other hand, it’s a good idea that you check if your inkjet transfer paper can handle the quality of the paper you selected.

Now you just need four things to make your printing a great success at home:

  1. Compatible printer.
  2. A standard iron (maybe with an iron board or a table).
  3. A computer.
  4. And a T-shirt or other item to print on.

We would advise you to practice a bit on a scrap of cloth. You need to work out your technique before applying it to your final cloth.

A good place to start the process is to read the heat transfer paper instructions. Note that the supplier will provide the time, pressure, and method of applying heat to get great results.

7. Material Color and Opacity

You need to be careful when it comes to your T-shirt color and its corresponding transfer paper. You mainly have two types of transfer paper and based on the color of your chosen fabric, you need to choose one or the other as follows:

  1. Light transfer paper
  2. Dark transfer paper

Light transfer paper

This type of paper is for use on light-colored material. You can use this paper for white to light gray fabrics. You can also use it for pale hues like pink, sky blue, yellow, or even beige. Note that light transfer paper is clear. So this will allow the fabric of the shirt to show through. This means you’ll obtain the lightest and nicest hues of the design.

Dark transfer paper

This paper is made for printing on dark colors like black, dark gray, or bright, saturated hues. You’ll find that dark papers have an opaque white background as inkjet printers don’t print white. The idea is that the transfer paper’s white background will transfer to the dark fabric. This is done alongside the ink when you heat the paper with an iron. In the end, you’ll get a visible image of dark-colored fabric.

By the way, you can use dark transfer paper on any color fabric.

Best Iron On Transfer Paper – The Best Heat Transfer Paper


#1. Avery T-Shirt Transfers for Light Fabric – Best Iron-On Transfer paper

Best Iron On Transfer PaperWhen it comes to the best iron on transfer paper, we have to give it up for the Avery branded light fabric transfers. With an ordinary clothes iron and your inkjet printer, you can easily create iron-on transfers.

This particular product is focused on light-colored 100% cotton/poly-cotton blend fabrics. Avery also sells dark-color transfer papers as well which are just as good.

We would say that the standout feature is the Shieldformula, which means colors stay bright, even after being washed. Also, you get a pretty crisp, long-lasting image quality which is a plus. These papers are standard 8.5 by 11 inches and you can pick how many you want to buy. With this set, you can make professional quality artwork yourself on fabrics that you like.

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#2. Jolee’s Boutique Iron-on Transfer Paper – You can use your inkjet printer

The Jolee’s Boutique Iron-on Transfer Paper is the best iron-on transfer paper for t-shirts. You can use an inkjet printer to print your favorite pictures and you can also wash your shirts. Note that Jolee’s is a very popular brand and that’s why they deserve a mention here.

Perhaps its standout feature amongst the competition and one that is quite controversial is that it is pretty good at not fading even after you have put it in the washing machine.

In our experience, it goes on very vividly and transfers onto a white tee with ease. The results will look great and even after a few washes, the ink will stay on without clear signs of fading.

Unfortunately, other people may disagree and we have spoken to some users who claim that the ink comes off after machine washing and you must hand wash your fabrics.

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#3. Koala T Shirt Transfer Paper

For those looking for the best iron-on transfer paper, we vouch for the Koala T-Shirt Transfer Paper. This stuff gives you bright vibrant colors with no cracking which is definitely a game changer.

This stuff is designed for all inkjet printers and is fully waterproof with instant drying. Also, it supports a heat press machine and basic iron, with the heat press being the better option for less ink fading.

And it goes without saying that the transfer effect will depend on ink quality, temperature settings,  and transfer time. The least you can do is control what you can by using the best transfer paper.

We have tried many brands on the market and for some reason, this one just does the trick for us. We hope that it does the same for you.

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#4. PPD Inkjet Iron-On Transfer Paper

Another great iron-on transfer paper product is the PPD Inkjet Dark Transfer Paper. The company also has a light fabric transfer paper as well that is equally as effective as transferring the ink.

While we do think that this transfer paper is a bit more pricey than its competition, there’s a good reason for it. It tends to work better and at least for us, it was easier to use.

Just make sure that you heat press it in order for it to bring out some vibrant hues and for the colors to really stick properly. Also, you can iron your garments beforehand to remove excess moisture.

Furthermore, we like it because you don’t have to wait for your image to cool to pull off your wax or parchment paper. It is also soft to the touch and washes very well.

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#5. Printworks Dark T-Shirt Transfer Paper

Iron On Transfer PaperLastly, we have the Printworks Dark T-Shirt Transfer Paper, which is designed to be used on both dark and light fabrics. Its standout feature is that it is quite easy to use and can be done in under 10 minutes. We also like the fact that it has a fade-resistant coating which basically means you can print vibrant, photo-quality images on your inkjet printers.

These transfer papers are made easy to use and any beginner can pick it up and figure out how it all works very fast with its clear-cut instructions. Printworks has been around in the business for many decades, so we completely trust this brand and they definitely make quality and reliable transfer paper.

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FAQs about heat transfer papers for t-shirt printing 

Below are the answers to some of the most common questions you may have.

Do you need special ink for heat transfer paper?

There is, in most cases, no need for any special ink. The only time you would need a special ink is when you want sublimation ink. In this case, heat transfer paper requires a specific type of ink known as dye-sublimation or pigment-based inks which are specifically formulated to transfer onto the fabric through heat application.

Are transfer paper designs machine-washable?

The answer is yes – transfer paper designs can be machine-washed, but it ultimately depends on the type of fabric that they are transferred onto.

Transfer paper for dark fabrics typically holds up better in the washing machine than transfer paper for white or light fabrics. This is because dark fabric transfer paper has a thicker layer of adhesive which allows the design to adhere more firmly to the fabric. Additionally, dark fabric transfer paper is designed to withstand higher temperatures during the printing process which means that it will hold up better when subjected to high heat during washing.

A small useful tip. Turn your clothing inside out before washing it. This will help preserve the quality of the print.

What happens when you use light-colored transfer paper on dark fabrics?

When using transfer paper to print designs on fabrics, many people opt for light-colored paper thinking that it will be versatile and can work on any color of fabric. However, this is not always the case when printing on dark fabrics. Using light-colored transfer paper on dark fabrics could lead to some unpleasant results.

The main issue with using light-colored transfer paper on dark fabrics is that the design may not show up as clearly as expected. The colors tend to blend with the fabric color making it difficult to distinguish the design from the background. This could result in a washed-out look and an overall poor-quality print job.

This is dues to that light-colored paper is transparent. As such, it allows the color of the shirt shows through.


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