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How can I tell what type of vinyl I have?

A commonly asked question is, “How can I tell what type of vinyl I have?” Often times, the only way to tell for certain is that if you’ve somehow labeled it or if it’s marked on the product. For example, some vinyl may say “Permanent Adhesive” or have the SKU number on the backing. This does not always apply but for the most part you can follow this general rule of thumb for vinyl used for crafting and probably be ok.

Permanent Adhesive vs. Temporary Adhesive
Historically, the majority of permanent adhesive vinyl you’ll find in the market is going to be glossy. This does not necessarily hold true all the time, but most of the time you can be safe by following this rule. Temporary adhesive vinyl is usually, if not always matte finish. I could be wrong and I’m sure someone will correct me if I am, but I have yet to see Temporary Adhesive vinyl in a glossy finish. The past few years Cricut has used a grey printed grid on the back to indicated removable adhesive vinyl and a green printed grid to indicate permanent adhesive vinyl.

Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)
HTV is distinctly different from adhesive vinyl. Since you cut HTV from the opposite side from adhesive vinyl, it will be on a clear or opaque plastic carrier sheet which serves the same purpose as transfer tape. Custom printed HTV may not have a carrier sheet on it and usually this has to be applied separately to have allowed the printing process to take place. It is important to note that if you purchase manufactured printed pattern HTV, it may come with the carrier sheet attached just like regular HTV and glitter HTV.

Hopefully this will help anyone sort out their mix of vinyl products. One tip might be to write the type on the back of each sheet and on HTV write on the carrier sheet with a sharpie or affix a small label. If you do, be careful not to let it transfer onto your parchment paper, Teflon sheet, or heat press platen and carry to other items!
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