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Full Guide To Using Printer Paper for Sublimation Printing

The startup costs for sublimation printing can get pricey, as there are quite a few items that you will need, including a sublimation printer, sublimation ink, sublimation transfer paper, sublimation blanks, heat tape, blowout paper, and a heat press.

There are some shortcuts you can take to save money, however, such as using an iron or an EasyPress 2 instead of a heat press, or converting a regular printer into a sublimation printer. 

Can you use printer paper for sublimation printing? You can use regular printer paper for sublimation printing. While sublimation paper is specially formulated to give you the best results when transferring an image onto your substrate of choice, printer paper can be used in a pinch with satisfactory results.

This article will describe the differences between printer and sublimation paper as well as the best kind of printer paper to use for sublimation and tips for using printer paper for sublimation printing.

You will also learn whether you can use a Cricut for sublimation printing and if you can use sublimation paper on T-shirts.

Using Printer Paper for Sublimation Printing

Whether you’re trying to cut costs or are just interested in experimenting with different materials, using printer paper for sublimation printing is possible to do.

You just need to know the difference between printer paper and sublimation paper as well as possible problems you may come across when using printer paper for sublimation printing. 

The Difference Between Printer Paper and Sublimation Paper

Sublimation paper is a fast-drying paper designed to be used specifically with sublimation ink. Sublimation ink is a special type of ink that transforms from a solid to a gas when it is exposed to heat.

The ink is printed onto the sublimation paper, which is then applied to the substrate. 

When heat is applied to the sublimation paper, the ink turns to a gas and permeates the sublimation blank.

Sublimation paper has a coating that keeps the ink from being absorbed into the paper, allowing for more of the ink to transfer to the substrate.

Printer paper is made to be used for everyday printing with regular printer ink.

Printer paper is more prone to bleeding than sublimation paper, but it can be used to transfer images to a wide range of sublimation blanks.

Using printer paper for sublimation printing can sometimes result in colors that aren’t as vibrant or clear as they are when printed on sublimation paper.

Printer paper can also come out more saturated, which can lead to wasted ink. 

Possible Problems When Using Printer Paper

The design on your printer paper can bleed through, making it harder to create a clear image when you apply it to the substrate.

Less ink can transfer from the printer paper to the sublimation blank, resulting in less vibrant color. 

Using printer paper for sublimation printing can also lead to a blurry image and can make a mess, getting ink on your heat press and substrate.

You may need to use extra paper to protect your heat press and material from excess ink, which can end up costing you as much as (if not more than) using sublimation paper in the first place. 

When You Can Use Printer Paper for Sublimation

You can use printer paper for sublimation paper any time you like, especially if you are sublimation printing a design for personal use.

Be aware that while printer paper can be used for sublimation printing, you may get mixed results. Faded colors or blurry designs can be potential outcomes of using printer paper.

When You Should Not Use Printer Paper for Sublimation

You should not use printer paper if you are printing mass amounts of sublimation blanks for a professional business.

It’s better to stick with higher quality transfer paper that is made specifically for sublimation printing when you are printing at a larger scale.

Best Type of Printer Paper To Use for Sublimation

The best type of printer paper to use for sublimation is a high quality, bright white paper, such as Hammerhill Printer Paper or Staples Multipurpose Paper. It’s a good idea to get a paper that is rated for laser printers to ensure that it can withstand the heat of the heat press. 

Hammerhill Printer Paper

Hammermill Printer Paper, Premium Color 32 lb Copy Paper, 11 x 17 - 1 Ream (500 Sheets) - 100 Bright, Made in the USA, 102660R
  • PREMIUM COLOR COPY PAPER – Hammermill Premium Color Copy 32lb Paper provides a...
  • SUPER BRIGHT FINISH – At 100 brightness, this copying paper is super bright for excellent...

This paper is a premium bright-white paper that comes in a ream of 500 sheets. It is 100 brightness, meaning that it has a super bright finish.

It is a heavy weight paper that can work well for sublimation printing.

Staples Multipurpose Paper

Staples Multipurpose Paper, 8 1/2
  • 8.5" x 11".
  • Paper weight 22 lb.

Staples Multipurpose Paper is a good, cost-effective option for sublimation printing. It is a bright white, 22-pound, uncoated paper that comes in a pack of 500 sheets. 

Tips for Using Printer Paper for Sublimation Printing

Make sure that the printer paper is a bright-white, high-quality paper that can withstand the heat from the heat press without burning.

Practice with printing and pressing your design using printer paper before printing your design on your chosen item.

Be sure to use blowout paper to protect your heat press and your substrate from any excess ink that might remain on the printer paper. 

Related Questions:

Can You Use a Cricut for Sublimation?

You can use a Cricut heat press for sublimation.
Cricut makes cutting machines, lighting, and other tools and accessories as well as heat presses, but the heat press will be the main item you will want to use for sublimation, although you can use the Cricut cutting machines to cut out your pattern.
Cricut’s heat presses are called EasyPress 2 machines and come in different sizes, including the EasyPress Mini, which is 1.92” wide by 3.25” tall and is perfect for tiny items, as well as 6” x 6”, 9” x 9”, and 12” x 10” sizes.
All of the Cricut EasyPress 2 machines have temperature control up to 400℉.
As long as the material you are sublimation printing on requires heat of 400℉ or less, you can use the Cricut to press it.
The Cricut EasyPress is a popular choice for sublimation printing, with the drawback being that your designs are limited in size to the size of the Cricut machine.

Can You Use Sublimation Paper on T-Shirts?

You can indeed use sublimation paper on T-shirts. Depending on the type of sublimation ink you use, you will need to make sure that the T-shirt is either polyester or a poly-blend or that it has been coated with a poly-spray.
Many sublimation inks require polyester or a poly-coat to bond with while in their vapor state. 
To use sublimation paper on a T-shirt, simply print the design onto the sublimation paper using sublimation ink, and then apply the paper to your desired substrate and use a heat press at the required temperature and for the right amount of time to press the design into the material. 


While using sublimation paper is the preferred method for sublimation printing, many people have used regular printer paper as transfer paper with good results.

As long as you don’t mind the possibility of wasting a little ink or using extra paper to protect your heat press and materials, printer paper is a viable option for sublimation printing.

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