Printing on heat transfer paper is easy. Choosing which paper and getting a great result can be hard. In this post we will explore transfer paper. We will go over best tips, tricks, and things to avoid. This guide will help you choose the right transfer paper for your project. As always, this site helps you get the most from your printer. Which will ultimately lead to the best results for your project. For copy paper or choosing which paper check out this guide.


Direct, indirect.

This paper can be broken down to two major types: direct and indirect transfer. One kind transfers the ink to the material. While the other kind transfers a sheet to the material with the image on top. Yet both use heat to transfer the image. Ink will cure at 160° C (320° F). Toner will cure at 190°C (374°).

The direct transfer paper needs an inkjet printer. For indirect transfer paper, either ink or toner can be printed on top of the transfer sheet. Then that sheet, image and all, is transferred.

Benefits of Each Type

Direct, indirect.

One type may be better suited than the other for your project. If you have an inkjet printer you can use either type. A laser printer will use the indirect transfer paper. The indirect transfer paper for laser and inkjet printers tends to work well with heavy images. There is no loss of ink or toner during the transfer process therefore the image retains its original quality. This type also works well for colored or uneven textured material. But with the indirect transfer paper there is an extra step of trimming away the excess around the image.

The direct transfer paper for inkjet printers is best suited for white t-shirts or uniform material. Most inkjet printers will not have white ink. Any white parts of the image will be made by the white material the image is being transferred to. Photos will transfer with the direct transfer type but be sure to print with the highest quality settings. Then print in mirror mode so the final product is not backwards. I would not recommend using this type with burlap or other coarse heavy materials.

The Copier Jam

Choosing a Type

Direct, indirect.

The important factors of any project is the image, material, and printer. Your printer and material may steer your project to a certain type. Still text and simple graphics will work well with either type. White t-shirts or sweatshirts will work for either type. Coarse or dark colored material should use the indirect transfer paper.

Another factor for the image being transferred id its overall shape and density. Does the image have a lot of small parts that would require a lot of trimming or aligning with the indirect transfer paper? Are there minute dots that might be absorbed in the material with the direct transfer type? If the right choice doesn’t jump out at you get both types and see which turns out best. You can always find a use for the leftovers.

Dual pack:

Direct Transfer

Direct, indirect.

This type directly transfers the ink from your printer onto the material. An inkjet printer is required. Iron or heat press to transfer is also required. Don’t forget the final touch.


Borderless text and images
Easy to use
Transfers ink directly to material
Less cutting


Only for Inkjet printer
Need white ink or t-shirt

Get Yours Today!

Click here to go to Amazon

Indirect Transfer

This kind prints the image on top of a sheet which is then ironed on to the material. Works with laser as well as an inkjet printer. Iron or heat press is required for transfer. Don’t forget the final touch.


Works on any color material
For laser and inkjet printer
Works on wider range of materials


More trimming
Any sharp edges may peel

Get Yours Today!

Click here to go to Amazon

Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

Be sure to read the directions specifically for you transfer paper. They may have a specific temperature or time required for your type. Still these tips, tricks, and best practices apply to any heat transfer.

Have all the supplies and work space ready.
Pre-wash items before transferring. Make sure the material is dry and free from any contaminants. The drier the better for either types of transfer. Clear away any lint or fuzz from the area.
Iron shirt before transfering.
Be sure to make a test print on regular paper to make sure your printer is in working order and free from defects.
Print on best quality or vivid colors if your printer has those options.
Select transfer or heavy paper if your print driver has that option. The printer will make adjustments for better results.
Trim off corners for the indirect transfer kind. Sharp points tend to peel off easier during use or washing.
Slip a piece of regular paper inside the shirt. It will help even out the heat for the transfer. Also prevent any ink from bleeding through.
No steam setting for iron. The transfer uses heat only.
It’s probably better to iron it for longer than a shorter time. Ink or toner won’t burn but the material will.
For the kind with a backing use a parchment paper and go over the image again to set it in.

Practice makes perfect. Test on an old t-shirt if you’re unsure or need more practice.

Final Touches

Once you have the transfer done you want to keep it looking new. I would avoid vinegar to cure or set the transfer. It tends to break down ink and toner. Instead I would use a water repellent spray designed for clothes such as one like this:

This will work for either type of transfer. Most inkjet transfers to clothes fade after the first washing. Use this hydrophobic spray before washing your transfer to prevent it from fading. In addition to spraying it on top be sure to spray it in the inside. This will protect the back of the image.

It also works to seal toner transfers and make them last longer.

Ideas for Projects

Making transfer paper crafts is one of the fun uses for a printer. In case you need some help planning transfer paper projects, here are a few recommendations.

Favorite quotes on t-shirts
Accents on chairs or furniture
Bags with purposes printed on them
Birthday items or party favors
Details for stuffed animals.
Holiday shirts
Party favors
Custom umbrellas
Bags with logos
Custom hats

We hope this has given you ideas or inspiration for your projects. As well as guide you from start to finish for your transfers.

copier guy

The Copier Guy, aka Dave. I’ve worked on scanners, printers, copiers, and faxes over 23 years. When I’m not fixing them I’m writing about them. Although, I’m probably better at fixing them. I have certificates from Canon, Xerox. Ricoh, Kyocera, Lexmark, HP, and Konica Minolta. My experience includes other brands as well as several types of processes. If it uses paper I’ve probably worked on one.

Transfer Paper

Similar Posts