5 Transfer Tape Alternatives: Easy Finds You Can Use Instead

by Lauren M

Transfer tape is one of the essential supplies needed for creating Silhouette or Cricut vinyl projects. However, it can get expensive and usually only comes in a large quantity so you might be looking for some ideas of what you can use instead.

Whether you’re using a Cricut machine or Silhouette Cameo, these transfer tape alternatives will work for many of your vinyl crafting projects.

What else can I use instead of transfer tape?

  • Masking Tape
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Adhesive Shelf Liner
  • Lint Roller Paper
  • Scotch Tape

Making vinyl decals is mostly impossible without transfer tape. Once the vinyl has been cut and weeded, there has to be a way to transfer the vinyl onto the desired surface all at once without messing up the design and also while keeping all of the pieces together and from moving out of place.

transfer tape alternatives

Can you imagine how hard it it would be to transfer vinyl pieces one by one? What a job, especially for small decals and intricate designs! Or even if your decal is only one piece, keeping it bubble-free and from bunching up would be very difficult without transfer tape. This is where transfer tape comes in and saves the day.

Transfer tape or transfer paper makes the process of transferring your decals super simple. Just place the transfer paper sticky side down on top of your weeded vinyl, then peel away the paper backing. Now, just stick the decal onto whatever is being decorated, make sure all pieces stick to the surface, and peel away the transfer tape. Easy peasy!

It is important to note, that transfer tape is not is not used with heat transfer vinyl/HTV. It is only used with adhesive vinyl that is used to make decals. For heat transfer vinyl, something called a carrier sheet is used. You can learn more about HTV here.

While transfer tape is necessary for adhesive vinyl, it can get expensive. And if you don’t need a large amount or are just practicing, you may not want to buy a huge roll.

For these reasons, knowing about other materials you can use instead is helpful. Some of these materials you probably already have around your house. And if not, you can find them all for purchase at most home goods or hardware stores like Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot, or Lowes.

Masking Tape

Some types of transfer tape are very similar to masking tape so of course, masking tape is a great alternative. Masking tape is easy to use because of its easy-to-tear qualities and pressure-sensitive adhesive. Since masking tape is frequently used for things like marking floors and other surfaces, it doesn’t leave a residue behind.

masking tape

Masking tape is available in a variety of widths, so make sure that you measure your decal and buy the proper width. Going too large is always better than going too small; you can always cut away the excess.

Even if your roll isn’t wide enough for your decal, you can still overlap and use several strips until it covers all the vinyl. Just be careful when removing it from the decal as using multiple pieces could cause the decal to tear more easily since it wouldn’t be transferred with one solid piece.

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, masking tape is it. A single roll can be purchased for under $5 at most stores.

Painter’s Tape

Yes, I know masking and painters tape are basically the same things, but I thought it was worth mentioning separately since they are typically marketed as different types and do have a few differences. The two most notable differences are their color and the strength of their adhesive. Painters tape is usually blue and its adhesive is typically not as strong as masking tape.

painters tape

Now, let’s talk about similarities. This transfer tape alternative has the same qualities as masking tape that make them both a good choice for transferring decals. Just like masking tape, painters tape is easy to tear, leaves no residue, is easy to find, is fairly inexpensive, and comes in various sizes.

Painters tape is made by several brands including Scotch, FrogTape, and Duck.

Contact Paper

Adhesive shelf liner, sometimes called Contact paper, is a popular alternative to transfer tape. It has a sticky backside and is typically used as a protective covering for things like shelving, books, papers, etc.

Contact paper comes in a variety of trendy colors and designs which is nice if you are using it for decorative purposes, but for transferring decals, you will want to use just plain ol’ clear contact paper. Using transparent or clear contact paper to transfer your decal makes it so much easier to get the placement just right.

Since Contact paper is sold by the roll, it can be purchased in large supply for less money than transfer tape. Some brands of shelf liner also come with a grid printed on the paper backing making for easier cutting and measuring.

There are several different brands that make adhesive shelf liner, some well-known ones being Contact and Duck brand. Because of this, it can come with varying degrees of tact so be aware that if left on the vinyl for long periods of time, some could potentially leave behind a residue. With that said, some styles of adhesive liner are actually suggested to be used with crafts and are advertised to not leave behind any residue.

lint roller

Lint Roller Paper

This item may be quite surprising, but it can get the job done and is handy to use when you are in a pinch! Just like the other alternatives on this list, lint roller paper is a transfer tape alternative that you probably already have in your home.

Think about it: lint rollers are made up of adhesive sheets that don’t leave residue, and can be bought cheaper than the real stuff. When using lint roller paper, you want to be mindful of the width and length of the vinyl. You may need to layer multiple sheets to cover all the way around the edge of the vinyl.

scotch tape

Scotch Tape 

We get pretty resourceful when we are in a bind and that is how Scotch tape ended up on this list. I don’t recommend using this regularly as a transfer tape alternative, however, it will work in some instances if nothing else is on hand.

I’ve only ever used Scotch tape on small decals and doubt that it would be very effective with larger decals. The key to using Scotch tape is being very careful when lifting the tape off of the vinyl once it has been placed. With this alternative, it would be very easy to rip or tear the vinyl so use with caution.

Alternatives to Avoid

I can’t give you a list of the best transfer alternatives without also warning you about some to avoid! Contrary to the name, you can’t just use any type of tape to transfer vinyl.

Some common types of tape found in most households like Duct tape, shipping tape, and electrical tape should not be used as vinyl transfer paper. These all have strong adhesives that would most likely tear your vinyl decal that you worked so hard on, not to mention leave behind a heavy residue.

Wrap Up

With this new information under your belt, you can create many vinyl projects with your Cricut machine or other vinyl cutter without having actual transfer tape.

Whatever your reason for seeking out these alternatives, being aware of your options is always a good thing! Transfer tape may cost more money than you are comfortable with spending or maybe you just don’t need a huge roll. Either way, using the alternatives discussed in this article can help you in your vinyl crafting journey.

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