Silk Screen Printing vs. Heat Transfer

Heat transfer and screen printing are the two most popular methods for decorating custom t-shirts, so how do you know when to choose one over the other? Here are some things to consider when choosing your custom decoration method:

  • Designs decorated with heat transfer can have a higher level of detail than screen printing.
  • Set up and clean up are easier and more affordable with heat transfer printing.
  • Unlike silk screen printing, there is no limit to the number of colors you can use in your design for heat transfer printing.

  • Heat transfer printing takes longer to decorate each item than screen printing, making it a less ideal decoration method for larger orders. Heat transfer generally takes about 3 minutes per shirt, while screen printing can be done in seconds.
  • Because screen printing doesn’t use heat it is not limited from printing on heat sensitive material. You can screen print on just about anything.
  • For smaller batches, heat transfer is a cheaper custom decoration method, but with larger orders, screen printing actually becomes cheaper.


If you want to learn more about custom screen printing check out our Custom Screen Printing Capabilities or read our complete Guide to Screen Printing! For more information on heat transfer refer to our Custom Heat Transfer CapabilitiesCheck out our complete Custom Decoration Methods Guide to find the perfect decoration type for any application or contact us for more information.