Can You Use a Regular Printer for Transfer Paper? InkJet vs Laser 🖨️ Print Like This (2023)

Thanks to transfer paper, the process for printing custom graphic t-shirts is easy. You only need a printer and computer. However, not all printers are created equal for transfer papers used for graphic garments.

Can you use a regular printer for transfer paper? Yes, but it depends on the type of transfer paper you have. If you have a standard inkjet or laser printer, you can use transfer paper to create your own graphic t-shirts.

Can You Use a Regular Printer for Transfer Paper? InkJet vs Laser 🖨️ Print Like This (1)

Table of Contents

Can You Use a Regular Printer for Transfer Paper?

If you have an inkjet or laser printer, you can print on transfer paper. Then using your home iron, you can transfer that design to a shirt, bag, or another fabric garment.

What Are the Different Types of Transfer Papers?

There are several types of transfer papers available for graphic t-shirt printing, but heat transfer paper is the most common.

Other types of transfer paper include sublimation paper (used with a sublimation printer) and vinyl transfer paper (used with a vinyl cutter)

Each type of transfer paper has its advantages and disadvantages, so choosing the right one for your project is essential.

Heat transfer paper is a paper that has special features that enable the ink printed on it to be transferred to a garment using a heating press apparatus such as a laundry iron or some other heat press device.

(Video) Laser Color Printer vs Inkjet - For Printing Heat Transfers & Photos

Transfer papers are most effective on garments made of 100% natural fibers. This means that synthetic fabrics like satin or polyester will not perform well with heat transfer paper.

Since most printers are inkjet or laser jet printers, the type of transfer paper you would use will likely be heat transfer paper.

Types of Heat Transfer Papers

Heat transfer paper comes in two types:

  1. white transfer paper for printing on dark-colored shirts
  2. transparent transfer paper for printing on light-colored shirts

And for two types of printers: inkjet or laserjet

Here’s the best transfer paper for each printer type.

Best Transfer Paper for InkJet Printers

Here are the best heat transfer papers for your inkjet printer. Choose the transfer paper for the color garment you’ll be applying your design to.

Best Transfer Paper for Laser (or InkJet) Printers

Here are the best heat transfer papers for your laser printer. Choose the transfer paper for the color garment you’ll be applying your design to.

Are Inkjet or Laser Printers Better for Transfer Paper?

Both inkjet and laser printers can print on transfer paper, but each has advantages.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers will give you a wider choice of transfer papers that can be used on other inkjet printers, while laser printers will not have this ability.

Inkjet printers risk ink bleeding. If an inkjet printer uses pigment ink, the transfer will have a higher chance of durability during machine washes.

Laser Printers

Laser printers can print on self-weeding transfer paper, allowing you to print without the background you would see on white and transparent transfer paper.

(Video) what are the differences between inkjet transfer paper and laser transfer paper

Laser printers have toner, which is not ink but a tube of pigmented powder activated by heat.

While this creates an advantage for laser printers when it comes to color-fast printing, it creates a disadvantage because the toner will sometimes not print effectively to some transfer papers.

Make sure to choose transfer paper made for your type of printer (LaserJet or InkJet).

Can You Use a Regular Printer for Transfer Paper? InkJet vs Laser 🖨️ Print Like This (2)

How to Use Transfer Paper

The process is relatively simple:

  • First, print your design onto the transfer paper using a special printer.
  • Then, apply the paper to the garment and use a heat press to transfer the design onto the fabric.
  • Finally, you peel off the paper and enjoy your new shirt!

The press method will determine how easy this process becomes for you.

6 Tips When Using Transfer Paper

Here are some best practices when using transfer paper:

  1. Prevent bleed by placing cardboard inside of the shirt to separate the front and the back
  2. Ensure your temperature settings are optimal, preheat your press
  3. Trim your print as best as you can to eliminate the background and white space
  4. Monitor the press time according to transfer paper instructions
  5. Allow the garment to cool before removing the transfer paper
  6. Do not wash garment within 24 hours of press job

Best Heating Presses for Each Paper Type

T-shirt printing is a perfect DIY project for people, so an iron is suitable for small projects. However, you can also use a heat press.

The printer type you’ve used to print on your transfer paper won’t matter as you choose the method to transfer the print to a garment.

Your pressing method will depend on your production needs.

Benefits of Using an Iron

Can You Use a Regular Printer for Transfer Paper? InkJet vs Laser 🖨️ Print Like This (3)
(Video) Does PHOTO transfer work better with an INKJET or a LASER print?

Transfer papers only need the right heat temperature and the correct pressure to transfer prints to garments.

Doing this is manageable with an iron if you have a small project. Or if you’re running a graphic t-shirt business, and need to print some test designs and prototypes.

Using an iron is not very beneficial if you have a bulk order or you need to ensure the integrity of the transfer is not compromised.

It’s a good idea to choose a quality clothes iron that has a good reputation, like this PurSteam pro iron.

The issue that could occur with using an iron is not having the right temperature since some irons do not allow you to control the temperature but with only a few settings. You also risk not having enough pressure to ensure the transfer applies to the garment correctly.

Benefits of Using a Heat Press

Heat presses vary in price, and some are affordable. Heat presses are designed for transfer paper-to-garment printing.

Can You Use a Regular Printer for Transfer Paper? InkJet vs Laser 🖨️ Print Like This (4)

They will come with settings that allow you to control the temperature setting appropriate for the type of transfer paper and fabric used. It will also allow you to control the pressing weight, which increases efficiency and makes bulk printing a breeze.

One setback with using a heat press is if you are just starting with a small t-shirt printing operation, you may not have the working space for a heat press. Some heat presses come with a learning curve as well.

This small heat press will apply designs up to 10″ x 10″ on shirts, hats, and bags. Or for a more pro setup, this heat transfer press will apply designs up to 15″ x 15″.

Did you spill a little ink? Here’s how to get printer ink out of the carpet.

(Video) Inkjet vs Laser Printer Image Transfer | RixCanDoIt Quick Transfer Paper

Final Thoughts

Can you use a regular printer for transfer paper? Yes, and it works well for small orders. Traditional printers (laser or inkjet) each have transfer papers designed to work with each print method.

There are pros and cons for each, but they are both good options for creating graphics on fabrics through your home printer with transfer paper.

Can You Use a Regular Printer for Transfer Paper? InkJet vs Laser 🖨️ Print Like This (5)

Bryan Haines

Bryan Haines is a co-founder and writer on PrintLikeThis. We troubleshoot printer problems to get you back to printing.

He also writes at GudPixel and is a travel blogger at Storyteller.Travel. Bryan is co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.

(Video) What's the difference between inkjet and laser printers?


Can I use inkjet transfer paper with a regular printer? ›

Keep in mind that an inkjet heat transfer paper is only compatible to inkjet printers and laser heat transfer paper is only compatible to laser printers. To use an inkjet heat transfer paper in a laser printer can result to paper burning as the paper is not designed to withstand laser heat.

Can I use any printer for transfer paper? ›

Most types of Inkjet printers and inks would work with the transfer paper. You do not need to change anything or modify your printer in anyway. If you have an inkjet printer at home or have access to one, it will work.

Can you use a laser printer on transfer paper? ›

Yes you can you use transfer paper with a laser printer. Simply look for iron-on Laser Transfer Paper. Other kinds of paper such as iron-on inkjet transfer paper will not be compatible with laser printers.

What kind of printer should I use for transfer paper? ›

You can use an inkjet, sublimation printer, or laser printer to print onto iron-on transfer paper. Inkjet and dye-sublimation printers provide higher quality. If you want to produce a high-quality design on fabric, then you'll need to look at the features of the printer to make sure that it can handle the job.

What happens if I use inkjet transfer paper in a laser printer? ›

Inkjet printer paper can burn in the laser printer because it's not designed to withstand the heat of the laser printer when it would melt plastic powder toner into text. This burning can damage the inside of a laser printer.

Can I use transfer paper in my HP printer? ›

Unsupported printers

HP Iron-On Transfers should not be used on printers with heating elements, such as Laser printers and HP Deskjet 1200, 1600C, and Hp Business Inkjet 3000 series printers. The heating elements in these printers can melt the transfer paper, which could damage the printer.

What kind of printer do you need to make T shirts? ›

DTG printing is an inkjet technology that prints high-quality, photographic, full-color designs and prints directly on a t-shirt. DTG printing is the most suitable for artwork or designs that are considered too complex for other printing techniques.

Which is better for heat transfer inkjet or laser? ›

Inkjet printers have a higher quality print than laser printers with a larger selection of heat transfer papers to choose from. The options range from papers that excel in soft hand, less border, great color, and more.

Does a laser printer have a transfer unit? ›

The transfer unit is the part of the laser printing process that is responsible for transferring the image on the page before it goes through the fusing unit. Transfer units do eventually wear out and need to be replaced after an extended period of use.

Can you use a laser printer for iron on transfers? ›

Yes. Simply look for iron-on Laser Transfer Paper. Other kinds of paper such as iron-on inkjet transfer paper will not be compatible with laser printers.

What ink should I use for heat transfer paper? ›

Ink – there are a few different types of inks used in heat transfer printing to achieve different finishes. Inkjet ink is the most commonly used because it is the most affordable and accessible ink type. Pigment ink is also used for fade resistance and sublimation ink is used for dye sublimation printing.

What kind of printer do I need to print on heat transfer vinyl? ›

Whether you want to use traditional heat transfers or sublimation ink and paper, you'll need a decent printer that can handle your heat transfer needs. Inkjet Printers and Laser Printers are most commonly used for heat transfer projects.

Can inkjet printers print on heat transfer paper? ›

Heat transfer papers are designed to work with either inkjet or laser printers and are not cross-compatible. So, if you have an inkjet printer, you will need inkjet transfer paper. If you have a laser printer, you will need laser transfer paper.

Do you need special paper to print with a laser printer? ›

Inkjets and laser printers don't technically require different paper. You can use a ream of cheap office copy paper and get results that are adequate for most uses.

What is the difference between laser printer paper and inkjet printer paper? ›

What is the difference between papers for laser printers and copiers and inkjet printers? Inkjet printers use inks that soak into the paper. Laser printers and copiers use toners that stay on the surface of the paper. Inkjet printers and laser printers can both use uncoated papers.

What is the best way to print your own T-shirts? ›

Screen Printing is considered to be the highest quality printing by many professionals. It's also widely known as one of the most cost-effective options for printing your own clothing. The process is compatible with nearly all types of fabric.

Can you print shirt design on regular printer? ›

Print it on a T-shirt! You don't need to pay a screen printer or invest in fancy equipment to make your own T-shirts. It's simple to make them at home using a special paper, your inkjet printer, and an iron. Custom-made T-shirts are a great way to personalize your wardrobe.

Which lasts longer inkjet or laser? ›

Although toner drums in a laser printer are more expensive to replace than inkjet ink cartridges, they last longer and will require less frequent replacements, which will generally lead to a lower cost per page.

Which lasts longer screen printing or heat transfer? ›

This process can be more time-consuming for designs that have many colors; however, screen-printed art tends to last much longer than heat-pressed art. It also requires more chemicals and equipment for it to work.

Do laser printers print quality photos? ›

Whether you're printing photos for a wedding album, a family photo book or just because you want to look at your own face on paper, you don't want to settle for substandard prints. If you've got an eye for quality, laser printers can provide the high-quality finish and rich colors that will make your photos shine.

What is the advantage of a laser printer over an inkjet printer? ›

Laser printers can print much faster than inkjet printers can. Most are equipped with high-capacity paper trays, so they can print more pages at a given time. They're also built to handle the printing of thousands of pages per month without succumbing to wear-and-tear.

Do laser printers dry out? ›

Laser printers use toner which will not dry out the same way an ink cartridge does. Unlike ink, which is liquid-based, toner is a dry powder composed of plastic components so it will not dry out. You can leave a toner cartridge in your printer for weeks untouched and it should still print.

Can you use a laser printer to make T-shirts? ›

It is one of the many methods you can use to create custom T-shirts and other garments – alongside screen printing, heat transfer vinyl, sublimation, etc. In other words, Laser Dark is a specialty paper that you print on with a laser printer and then apply heat to transfer your design to a T-shirt.

Can you use an HP printer for iron on transfers? ›

Print HP iron-on transfers with an HP inkjet printer and apply them to fabrics such as t-shirts and bags. caution: HP iron-on transfers for inkjet printers cannot be used with LaserJet printers, or with copy machines and inkjet printers that have a heating element.

Can I use heat transfer vinyl on a laser printer? ›

Inkjet and laser printers are specifically designed to use paper, not vinyl. Therefore, Heat Transfer Paper is intended for printing with an inkjet or laser printer. It comes in smaller “sheet size” packs that come in sizes made for standard desktop printers, 8.5"x11" and 11"x17".

How many times can you use heat transfer paper? ›

UP TO HOW MANY TIMES CAN I USE THE COVER SHEET? Semi-transparent cover sheet can be used approximately 10 times. Karft paper can be used up to 50 times or more. Digital gloss sheets can be used an approximately 20 times.

Can I use parchment paper for heat transfers? ›

Parchment paper can be used for heat pressing transfer papers for dark color fabrics so the result surface is smooth. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the dark color transfer paper and beneath the Teflon sheet. It is heat resistant. This parchment paper is reusable as long as it is clean and no discoloration.

Can you print heat transfer vinyl on a regular printer? ›

Printable HTV requires a type of wide-format printer, and inkjet and laser printers will not work.

Can you print on vinyl with a regular printer? ›

Can you print on vinyl with an inkjet printer? Yes, you can! Would you like to know how to print on vinyl using the inkjet printer that you have at home? Whilst we prefer printing and cutting our vinyl with a vinyl die cut machine, there can be reasons why you would need to use an inkjet printer instead.

Can I use a regular printer for tattoo transfer paper? ›

You can use a regular printer to create a tattoo; you just need to make sure that you are using the correct paper type for tattoo stencils. This paper would be thermal paper or hectograph carbon paper. The tattoo transfer paper can be used with an inkjet or laser printer without any issues.

Can all printers use photo paper? ›

The short answer will be no. The long answer is because inkjet photo paper isn't designed to withstand the heat of a laser printer in the process of fusing melted toner into the paper. For laser printers, please look for laser photo paper.

Do all printers work with photo paper? ›

No set standard makes a printer-specific to photos. You can, in theory, use almost any home printer to create black-and-white or color prints.

What paper do I use in inkjet printer for a tattoo stencil? ›

Any off the shelf paper will work in the printer. We recommend Pacon Tracing paper as it has been tested and works well. Other tracing papers may also work. You have the option to choose what ever paper you prefer.

What's the difference between a regular printer and a laser printer? ›

What's the difference between an inkjet printer and a laser printer? An inkjet printer uses ink to print documents, while a laser printer uses a laser to print documents. Pretty simple, right? The different printing processes affect each printer's speed, functions, and image quality.

Do you need special paper for a laser printer? ›

While you can use plain paper with your laser printer, using quality paper that has been engineered for use with a laser printer tends to provide better results. Laser printer paper has a high level of heat resistance, as laser printers generate heat when printing.

Do you need special photo paper for laser printers? ›

To withstand the heat of laser printers, printing papers must have 74 gsm thickness or more. For best results, choose photo paper that is labelled for laser printer use aka laser photo paper.

Which is better for photo printing inkjet or laser? ›

Laser printers produce higher overall print quality when taking into account both text and images. However, inkjet printers specialize in color image printing and produce high-quality color photos. When it comes to crisp, clean black and white text and color images, laser printers are unmatched.

Are laserjet printers good for photos? ›

If you've got an eye for quality, laser printers can provide the high-quality finish and rich colors that will make your photos shine. Browse the top-ranked list of photo quality laser printers below along with associated reviews and opinions.

Can inkjet printer print photos? ›

Any inkjet printer can print great photos - you just need to know how to set it up to print better photos. There's no great mystery to printing photos, but knowing how to print photos better on your inkjet printer is actually quite a skill.


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