Sublimation Paper vs. Transfer Paper – Differences & Types

When it comes to transferring an image onto a surface, there are two main types of paper you can use: sublimation paper and transfer paper. But what is the difference between these two types of papers? Let’s discuss sublimation paper vs. transfer paper and see which one is right for your printing project.

sublimation paper vs transfer paper

Sublimation Paper vs. Transfer Paper – Which Is Better?

A seemingly very minor difference between heat transfer paper and sublimation paper is that the sublimation paper is a bit thicker than heat transfer paper. There are, however, a handful of other dissimilarities that may be more important depending on the type of projects you plan to use the paper for.


Sublimation Paper

Sublimation paper is a special kind of paper that is designed for transferring images onto surfaces like fabric, metal, ceramic, and wood. The great thing about sublimation paper is that the image will be permanently transferred to the surface using the dye sublimation process, and it won’t fade or peel off over time.

sublimation paper for heat press

Sublimation paper is designed to print using a sublimation printer and special sublimation ink. When you apply heat and pressure for a certain time, the dyes of the print turn directly into gas and penetrate into the pores of the surface.

Additionally, because the image is transferred through heat, there is no need for a transfer sheet or any other type of adhesive. This means that you can print your designs directly onto the sublimation paper, cut them out, and then heat them up to transfer the image onto your desired surface.

However, one downside of sublimation paper is that it can be a bit tricky to use. In order to transfer the image correctly, you need to make sure that the surface is completely flat and that there is no moisture present. If the surface is curved or if there is moisture present, the image may not be transferred as you expect it to.

Here’s how to do sublimation printing correctly.

Top Sublimation Paper Brands


Transfer Paper

Transfer paper is used to transfer images mostly only fabrics such as polyester and cotton. Unlike sublimation paper, transfer paper requires a transfer sheet in order for the image to transfer correctly. Transfer paper does not have the same permanence as sublimation paper – the image may fade or peel over time.

sublimation heat transfer paper

Best of all, transfer paper can be used in any inkjet printer for printing colorful designs. And these papers are a lot easier to use than sublimation paper, and it is less likely to produce mistakes.

The sublimation transfer paper is also used for hat sublimation.


Top Heat Transfer Paper Brands


Which is better heat transfer or sublimation?

difference between sublimation and heat transferSublimation paper has many advantages over regular heat transfer papers. It can be used in more types of printing than heat transfer paper. If you are using a heat press, sublimation paper can print high-quality, full-color images and patterns onto t-shirts, mugs and other substrates.

Transfer paper is easier to use, however, the colors do not print as vibrant as the sublimation. Also, heat transfer paper does not inject the dyes inside the surface, which means they’ll form a layer on top that will peel or crack over time.

So, which type of paper is right for you? If you are looking for a permanent image that will not fade or peel over time, then sublimation paper is the right choice. However, if you are looking for an easy-to-use paper that produces fewer mistakes, then transfer paper is the better option.



Sublimation Paper for Laser Printer

If you are looking for sublimation paper that can be used with a laser printer, there are a few different options available. Some sublimation paper brands, like Sawgrass and Epson, offer laser printer-compatible sublimation paper. This type of paper is designed to work with a laser printer, and it will produce high-quality results.



Comparison of Sublimation Paper vs. Transfer Paper:

Here is a comparison of sublimation paper and transfer paper to make it easier for you to choose the right paper for your printing projects;


 Durability and Feel : Sublimation paper will last longer as it is permanently transferred onto the surface, whereas transfer paper may fade or peel over time.

Sublimation paper creates a smooth and glossy finish, whereas transfer paper may produce a textured finish or a layer on top of the surface.


 Usability : Sublimation paper is more difficult to use as it is easy to make mistakes, whereas transfer paper is a lot easier to use.

Sublimation paper needs a completely flat surface and no moisture in order to work, whereas transfer paper can work on surfaces with a bit of curvature and does not need any special conditions.


 Types of Garments You Can Decorate : Sublimation paper can be used on a variety of garments including t-shirts, hoodies, beanies, and jackets. On the other hand, transfer paper is limited to use on cotton and polyester fabrics.


 Garment Colors : Transfer paper can be used to transfer images on dark and light garments, whereas sublimation paper is limited to use on light colors.


 Weeding and Trimming : Sublimation paper does not require any weeding or trimming, whereas transfer paper does.



Final Words

In conclusion, sublimation paper produces a longer-lasting, smoother, and glossier image than transfer paper. However, it is a lot easier to use transfer paper on a wider range of fabrics. So, it ultimately comes down to what you are looking for in a printing project. If you are looking for an easy and mistake-free process, then transfer paper is the right choice. However, a sublimation paper is the better option if you are looking for a more permanent image that will not fade or peel over time.



Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQs)

Is transfer paper the same as sublimation paper?

No, transfer paper and sublimation paper are two different types of paper that are used for transferring images on substrates. Sublimation paper is used to print using a sublimation printer and special sublimation ink. However, the transfer paper can be used in any inkjet printer to print beautiful images.


Can you use sublimation paper in any printer?

No, sublimation paper can only be used in a sublimation printer.


Can I use sublimation paper for heat transfer?

We do not recommend using sublimation paper for heat transfer. Although the sublimation process requires heat and pressure to transfer dyes, but sublimation papers are printed using special dyes. Only use transfer paper for heat transfer projects.


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