How to Apply Heat Transfer Vinyl to Nylon, Neoprene, Wood, Canvas, and Metal
Have you ever looked at some material or an item and asked yourself, “Can HTV be applied to this?” Well, I've spent the last couple years working with HTV and I've definitely asked myself that question many times! So, I thought I would share my experience with you!
In this tutorial, we will discuss recommended temperatures, pressing times, and general tips for five non-cotton materials--nylon, neoprene, wood, canvas, and metal--that you've probably encountered and wanted to apply HTV to.
- Rozzy Crafts matte heat transfer vinyl in your desired colors
- Vinyl cutting machine and software
- Tools for cutting and weeding vinyl designs
Heat press or EasyPress
- Home Iron*
- Teflon sheets or parchment paper
- Items to apply HTV to (nylon drawstring bag, neoprene koozie, wooden sign, canvas tote, metal water bottle, etc.)
As discussed below, other supplies may be useful for specific materials, but they're optional.
*The home iron is an option to use when applying HTV to neoprene koozies and rounded surfaces such as metal cups. However, the temperature of a home iron is not easily regulated and is not consistent like the temperature of a heat press or EasyPress. I would NOT recommend using a home iron for the other materials discussed unless you're familiar with the temperature of your iron and know that it is consistent.
I wanted to detail how to use five alternative materials that HTV can be applied to. This list is not exhaustive. There may be other materials out there that you might want to use. Also, in this post I don't address the standard materials, such as cotton or polyester blends because those are materials most often used with HTV. I wanted to focus on alternative materials that can be intimidating to crafters.
The items I use in this tutorial are a nylon drawstring bag, a neoprene koozie, a wood sign, a canvas tote, and a metal water bottle. In this post, I only create one example item for each of these materials, but the temperatures, times, and tips will apply to most items made from that material. Remember, no matter which material you are using, always start on the lowest recommended temperature and press for the shortest recommended time. You can always press with a higher temperature and for longer amount of time, but HTV can easily melt and ruin an item if it is too hot or pressed for too long.
Once you have your item selected, cut your vinyl using the design software and cutting machine. For Rozzy Crafts’s matte HTV, cut it on the “Iron On” setting for Cricut users or for Silhouette users set your machine to blade 2, speed 7, and thickness 5. For any machine, the cut should be mirrored. After you've cut the design, weed the excess vinyl, leaving only your design remaining on the carrier sheet.
Can heat transfer vinyl be applied to nylon?
For many crafters (myself included) nylon is the most intimidating material to apply HTV to. It is a material made from plastic, therefore it can easily melt or become damaged. I recommend practicing on an inexpensive nylon item prior to using an expensive one. For this tutorial I applied HTV to a nylon drawstring bag. When using a bag, I recommend placing a towel or pressing pillow inside of the bag to prevent damage to the other side.
Nylon Temperature – 275 degrees. This may seem like a low temperature for HTV, but with the sensitivity of nylon always start low and increase if necessary.
Nylon Press Time – use three 5-second presses, allowing the nylon and vinyl to cool between presses. And then allow the vinyl to cool before removing the carrier sheet. If you are doing a single layer of vinyl, do a final press consisting of two 5-second presses. If you are doing multiple layers of vinyl, do each layer with two 5-second presses. Allow the vinyl and the nylon to cool before applying another layer. Once all layers are on, do a final press as noted above. Use a Teflon sheet or piece of parchment paper for all layers, including the first layer and final press.
Nylon Tips – Be careful to not overheat nylon material, but also don't be scared to use it. There are so many fun items that are made from nylon that can be personalized with HTV. Just remember to do multiple presses at a low temperature for a small amount of time.
Can heat transfer vinyl be applied to neoprene?
Neoprene koozies are an inexpensive and versatile item to apply HTV to. They are great for weddings, birthday parties, and any other event where you need a small gift for a large number of people. The one downside is they are heat sensitive and can burn if you are not careful with the temperature and time when pressing.
Neoprene Koozie Temperature – 275 degrees. Use a Teflon sheet or piece of parchment paper for all layers including the first layer and final press. Koozies tend to stick to the press when pulled up, so using a Teflon sheet or parchment paper will prevent this issue. A home iron can be used for koozies when set to medium temperature. Use a Teflon sheet or piece of parchment paper just like with a press.
Neoprene Koozie Press Time – Press using a heat press or iron for NO MORE than 10 seconds. Allow your vinyl to cool completely prior to removing the carrier sheet. Regardless of the vinyl being cold or hot peel, the vinyl and the koozie should be cooled completely between layers and pressings to prevent overheating.
Neoprene Koozie Tips – Much like nylon, the neoprene can be heat sensitive. It will not melt like nylon will, but it will scorch and become distorted. This will cause your vinyl to shrink or distort as well. It’s better to press for too short and need extra presses than to press for too long.
Can heat transfer vinyl be applied to wood?
Farmhouse and antique decorations are all the rage these days. Applying HTV to wood can go great with any home décor, especially farmhouse and antique styled homes. Buying these wood signs can be expensive and impersonal. Applying HTV yourself can give you an extra special decoration for your home.
Wood Temperature – 315 degrees. Wood is durable to heat much like cotton.
Wood Press Time – 15 seconds, then cool vinyl completely, and remove carrier sheet. If only doing a single layer, do final press for 15 seconds with Teflon sheet or piece of parchment paper. If doing multiple layers, apply each additional layer with 10-second presses, allowing it to cool completely each time before removing the carrier sheet. Once all layers have been applied, do a final press as noted above.
Wood Tips – Sand the surface prior to pressing, especially if there's any paint or varnish on the wood. The vinyl will adhere to the paint or varnish, not the wood itself and then just peel up when removing the carrier sheet. If you want to have a painted look, you can sand just where the vinyl will be applied and then leave paint on the remaining parts of the surface. If you want to have a varnished look, first apply the HTV to a clean surface and then varnish over the top. You can apply stain prior to applying HTV, it should not affect the adherence. Allow the stain to dry completely prior to applying the HTV. Just like with cotton, pre-press the surface to remove any moisture that could adversely affect your HTV adhering.
Can heat transfer vinyl be applied to canvas?
Using heat transfer vinyl on paint canvases has become quite popular, but there are many other items that are made out of canvas material such as bags and storage totes that HTV can be applied to as well. I love using HTV to put labels on canvas storage totes throughout our home, especially for storing all my crafts.
Canvas Temperature – 305 degrees. Canvas is durable when it comes to heat, but there may be plastic pieces such as the handles or trim, so be aware of other parts of the item as well.
Canvas Press Time – 15 seconds, allow vinyl to cool completely, then remove carrier sheet. If doing a single layer design, do a final press for 15 seconds with a Teflon sheet or piece of parchment paper. If doing multiple layers, apply each layer with 10-second press times and use a Teflon sheet or piece of parchment paper, then do the final press as detailed above.
Canvas Tips – Check the vinyl after the final press for the texture of the canvas showing through. This is a sign that your HTV has completely adhered to the canvas.
Can heat transfer vinyl be applied to metal?
There are obviously many items made out of metal that HTV can be applied to. My favorite metal items to apply HTV to are metal cups and water bottles. It seems like most everyone has a metal cup or water bottle to keep their drinks ice-cold or piping-hot all day long. They come in a variety of colors and you can personalize the cups or bottles easily using HTV.
Metal Temperature – 300 degrees. Metal is of course durable with heat, but you want to avoid overheating your vinyl as this may cause it to melt or shrink.
When pressing cups or bottles specifically, I prefer to use my home iron set on the highest setting. This helps to apply the HTV with the curve of the cup or bottle.
Metal Press Time – 10 seconds. The metal conducts the heat quickly and this may cause overheating. Make sure to cool your vinyl completely before removing the carrier sheet. If you are doing a single layer, press for a final 10 seconds. If you are doing multiple layers, apply each layer with a 10-second press and allow each layer to cool completely. Then do a final press for 10 seconds.
Metal Tips – Prior to applying your HTV to the metal, clean the surface with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball or paper towel. Dirt and oils can remain on metal surfaces and cause the HTV to not adhere correctly. Have a hot pad, oven mitt, or hand towel readily available to use when handling the metal after pressing. The surface can be too hot to touch with bare hands. To help quicken the cooling process of your surface and your vinyl, use your hairdryer on the cool setting. I like to place my cup or bottle inside my EasyPress® holder to have a stable, heat-resistant work surface.
If you do not have something similar, I recommend placing your cup or bottle on a folded up towel to give you a more stable and heat resistant surface.
When applying to curved surfaces such as a cup or bottle, be careful to not slide your press or iron. You should pick it up, rotate your item and press another area. This may seem tedious, but sliding your press or iron along your surface and vinyl can cause the vinyl to melt, shrink, or become distorted.
Cold Peel vs Hot Peel
What does that even mean? If your vinyl is cold peel, the vinyl and the material should be cool to the touch prior to removing the carrier sheet. If you peel the carrier sheet away from the vinyl without allowing it to cool, it can cause the vinyl to pull away from the material. This will make the vinyl either not adhere to the surface completely or will cause it to become distorted. I used Rozzy Crafts’ matte vinyl throughout this tutorial which is cold peel. They have easy to follow instructions on the packaging of all of their vinyl. If you are using vinyl from a different manufacturer, be sure to check their recommendations for removing the carrier sheet.
Using Thicker Vinyls
I used only matte heat transfer vinyl for this tutorial. If you are applying thicker vinyls such as glitter or metallic, you may need to adjust your temperatures or press times. I would increase temperatures by no more than 5-10 degrees at a time and increase your press times by no more than 5-10 seconds at a time. It may take pressing more than one time to adjust your temperatures and times correctly, but it is best to slowly increase to prevent damage to your materials or vinyl.
I hope this tutorial has inspired you to think outside of the box when it comes to applying HTV to new materials. There are many more materials out there that I could include in this list, but the tutorial would be miles long if I included them all! If you are ever wondering if your Rozzy Crafts’ HTV can be applied a certain material, just contact us at any time. If you have any questions or suggestions please let us know in the comments or on Facebook. Happy crafting!
Hello, Thank you for the tips… I was nervous about doing a transfer on a 100% nylon jacket I couldn’t replace if it didn’t go well. But it turned out great, like HD! I actually did a transfer on my living turtles shell using my home iron. I’d post a photo if I could but I don’t see the option. I did it about 7 months ago and it’s still looking brand new and he spends most of his days in the water! Pretty Neat-o eh?
I bought some canvas totes and lunch bags. The totes are lined with recycled materials. I put vinyl on the front of the tote and it turned out so pretty, but I melted the tote on the inside, so now I can’t pull it apart. What can I do so I can put vinyl on all the totes and lunch bags I bought?
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