City Apparel


Corporate Apparel and Uniforms

Debate Season: Silkscreening vs. Heat Transfer

screenprining With the 2016 Presidential election rapidly approaching in November, lets take a moment to settle a debate before the real debates begin. It's not about foreign policy or what would be done domestically for various situations, it's about something much, much more important.....Silkscreening vs. heat transfer!!

We work with silkscreening (or screenprinting) and heat transfer companies all of the time, so we know what the pros and cons are for each technique when it comes to printing shirts. There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing which technique you want done, but there are better ways to go about different orders and such. For instance.....


Silkscreening is the process of flooding inks through a design on a screen. It's mostly used on t-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts and bags for advertising or corporate wear. It's by far the most common apparel decoration technique! Each individual color requires it's own screen and is printed in layers.



  • Cheaper for large-quantity orders of one or two colors
  • Better for printing on cotton
  • Softer and is able to be ironed
  • Can be done all over prints
  • Won't be ruined after multiple washes


  • Expensive on smaller quantity orders
  • Higher cost with additional colors
  • Set up and clean up is much more time consuming

Heat applied transfers are a single sheet transfer silkscreen process. Basically, all layers of art are layered on a backing sheet which is then applied with heat using a heat press. These transfers can be applied at different temperatures meaning they can be used on different fabrics without the risk of melting or tearing.

Heat Transfer


  • Clean and environmentally safe
  • Use of specially formulated inks and better software and graphics                                                                                                                                                                      give the operator's the ability to make better products
  • Cheaper for small quantity orders
  • Quick to do for small quantities and requires little to no clean up
  • Better detail than screenprinting


  • Becomes very expensive for larger quantity orders
  • The print doesn't last long, only looks it's best before multiple washes
  • Cannot be ironed
  • Isn't as breathable as a silkscreened shirt and may provoke sweating
  • Doesn't look as professionally done as a silkscreened shirt

So...who wins the debate on which technique to use? The answer isn't definitive! Both techniques have good about them and it depends on the order you're placing! Luckily for our customers, we are available to help settle the debate for you.

City Apparel works with screenprint and heat transfer companies that are well versed in all CPSIA techniques and practices, meaning we are always compliant with regulations.

800-422-CITY (2489)