Vinyl 101: Getting Started with Adhesive Vinyl

Welcome to our Getting Started with Vinyl series! If you are like most new Cricut users, one of the first things you want to do is to learn how to use adhesive vinyl. 

Today is an introduction to getting started using adhesive vinyl with your Cricut. The rest of the series will walk you through everything you need to know to feel confident using adhesive vinyl. Once you get the basics down there will be no surface left in your home that you won't want to label or decorate, trust me!

Vinyl 101 getting started with adhesive vinyl

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What is Adhesive Vinyl?

Adhesive vinyl is very similar to a sticker. It has an adhesive that is pressure sensitive and can be cut in any shape or design and then applied to a hard surface. 

It is important to note that in this series we will only be discussing adhesive vinyl, which works like a sticker. We are NOT talking about the other main kind of vinyl which is HTV or heat transfer vinyl (sometimes called iron-on).

Types of Adhesive Vinyl

Adhesive vinyl comes in many different types. When you are first getting started it can be so confusing! Let’s take a look at the different kinds available. After that we will look at different brands that you can purchase.

Indoor or Removable Vinyl

Indoor or removable vinyl is great for anything you may want to change later. It is ideal for walls or surfaces that won’t be handled a lot. It also has a matte finish. You may also hear this kind of vinyl referred to as “631”.

Outdoor or Permanent Vinyl

Outdoor or permanent vinyl has a stronger adhesive. I would recommend this for anything that will be handled a lot or exposed to any elements. Car decals, cups or tumblers, or signs that are outside are perfect for the strong adhesive of permanent vinyl.

Permanent vinyl can be removed, but there is a good chance it will damage the surface if it is applied to a wall or something painted. If it is on glass or a similar surface, a razor blade will usually lift it up and then any remaining adhesive will need to be removed. Just know that it is possible to remove if needed.

Instead of a matte surface like removable vinyl, permanent vinyl is glossy. It is also referred to as “651”. 

Which is Best, Removable or Permanent?

My personal preference is 651, or permanent. Generally it works for any project I am working on. I only purchase 631 or removable if there is a specific surface that I know I will want to remove later (such as on a wall) or it is a tricky design or surface and I may need to reposition it if I mess it up the first time!

The other reason I may chose 631 over 651 is if I want the look of a matte finish instead of glossy. (Although there is a lesser known option of Oracal 641 which is a matte vinyl with a permanent adhesive. It isn’t nearly as common and I haven’t ever purchased it myself).

More Types of Vinyl

Now that you know the two basic kinds of vinyl, removable or permanent, let’s look at all of the other options you have when choosing a vinyl. 

Each kind is different and you will need to look and see if the adhesive is considered permanent or removable before using it.

There are so many choices! They include:

Stencil vinyl- Stencil vinyl has a bit more of a plastic feel and is designed specifically for stenciling. Cricut has their own brand or there is Oramask 813 . People who make lots of wooden signs swear by the Oramask.

Etched glass vinyl- Etched glass vinyl is a little frosted looking and when applied looks like the design has been etched into the glass.

Patterned vinyl- Patterned vinyl is just like regular vinyl but has a pattern printed on it. I especially love the florals Expressions Vinyl is carrying right now.

Printable vinyl- Printable vinyl can be printed on using a regular home printer. This is especially useful when a design has many colors and you don’t want to cut each color out individually and layer them together.

Glitter vinyl- Glitter vinyl has a glittery surface. It can sometimes be hard to see where the cut lines are once you cut your design. It also needs an extra strong transfer tape to pick it up and apply it to your project.

Metallic vinyl- Metallic vinyl has a shiny and reflective like finish.

Chalkboard vinyl- You can turn any surface into a chalkboard with chalkboard vinyl . It works with chalk and chalk markers just like a normal chalkboard.

Dry erase vinyl- You can turn any surface into a dry erase board by using dry erase vinyl . It works with dry erase markers just like a normal dry erase board. You can even buy it in bulk if you have a large project.

Hollographic vinyl- Hollographic vinyl is shiny and when the light hits it in different ways allows different colors to show.

Glow in the dark vinyl- After being exposed to light, glow in the dark vinyl will “glow” once the lights are out.

Which Brand of Adhesive Vinyl is Best?

You may be wondering with all of these options if there is a certain brand that is better than another. The main two brands of vinyl I use are Cricut and Oracal. Siser, which is a brand that is known for their heat transfer vinyl, recently added adhesive vinyl to their options as well.

Oracal Vinyl

Oracal is truly the industry standard. Have you been wondering where all of those numbers like 631 and 651 come from? They are how Oracal differentiates all of their different kinds of vinyl. The numbers 631 and 651 have become synonymous for “removable” and “permanent” within the crafting community, but only the Oracal brand is truly “631” or “651”.

Oracal was around creating vinyl for sign makers long before vinyl for crafters was even a “thing”. You can trust that if you purchase Oracal you are getting a good product.

Cricut Vinyl

Cricut vinyl is great vinyl too. Word on the street (or internet…) is that Cricut vinyl was originally just Oracal vinyl sold under the Cricut name. My guess is that with the amounts of vinyl Cricut is selling that they have moved to manufacturing it themselves, but that is just my guess.

Siser EasyPSV Vinyl

Siser recently started making adhesive vinyl in addition to their heat transfer vinyl called EasyPSV. They offer permanent, removable, glitter, etch, glow and chalkboard. I haven’t used it myself yet, but Siser is an excellent brand and the “go to” brand for heat transfer vinyl. I would expect that their adhesive vinyl is top notch as well.

Which Vinyl Should I Buy?

Honestly, the majority of the time I buy Oracal simply based on the price. When I get a sweet deal through Cricut using a sale or promotion they are running and then add in the Access discount on top of that, I buy from Cricut.

If Cricut isn’t on sale, or if some of my other favorite online stores are having a great promotion, I order through them and get Oracal. In my opinion the quality is the same and they are basically interchangeable. Some people swear that Oracal is better than Cricut, but that has not been my personal experience. 

Vinyl 101 Getting started with adhesive vinyl  Cricut Vinyl  Oracal vinyl  Siser EasyPSV

I hope I have helped you to understand the differences in adhesive vinyl and made it seem a little less confusing. Let me know in the comments...do you have a favorite kind of vinyl? Head over to part two of our Vinyl 101 series to learn my favorite places to buy adhesive vinyl.

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