If you are planning to use vinyl, you really need to understand not all vinyl types are created equal. Starting with the basics you must know the difference between cast and calendered vinyl.

Know The Basics About Vinyl

Each has its own characteristics and are to be used in accordance to those characteristics. I will briefly discuss what vinyl is and highlight some points of each type so moving forward you will have a guideline to pick the correct vinyl type. You can always find more information about each series of vinyl from manufacturer’s and some distributor’s websites. If you are unfamiliar with a vinyl, do your research and find the type of vinyl needed for your application.

Vinyl is actually polyvinyl chloride (PVC) polymer, which is rigid plastic. Ingredients such as plasticizers, to make film flexible, pigment for color desired, additives to achieve UV protection and other fillers are used to complete the product. Adhesive is applied to the backing along with a backing to protect the adhesive called a liner. Note* Be careful when using this product in heated areas such as ovens or with lasers, the vinyl will put off deadly chemicals and could be fatal.


  • Softer, flexible
  • Thinner
  • Usually 1-2 mil thick
  • Premium film
  • Usually lasts 7-12 years
  • Glossy (or matte in printable vinyl)
  • Typically will not fade as fast as calendered
  • Holds it shape better than calendered
  • Can be used for curved surfaces
  • Great for vehicle lettering, boat lettering, car wraps, long term outdoor/indoor signage, sealed walls with crevices, glass, round canisters or surfaces.


  • Thicker, not as flexible as cast
  • Lower cost than cast
  • Usually 3 mil and up
  • Intermediate film
  • Usually lasts 3-4 years
  • Typically Semi Gloss or Matte finish
  • Tends to fade faster than cast vinyl
  • Will shrink over time
  • Usually easier to handle for beginners
  • Can be used for flat surfaces only
  • Great for POP, short term vehicle flat surface areas, crafts, indoor projects, short term signs/projects, flat walls (test wall first, paints now have low VOCs)

Vinyl comes in all colors, including, gloss, matte, metallic and textured finishes. To find out more about vinyl finishes and adhesives, check back with me for future posts!