Sublimation printer paper: What is Sublimation Paper? Which One is Best For Your Project?

What is Sublimation Paper? Which One is Best For Your Project?

Learn which sublimation works best for which projects … and how it compares to copy paper!

Sublimation paper is a coated specialty paper designed to hold and release dye sublimation ink onto surfaces. There’s an extra layer on the paper designed just for holding, rather than absorbing, sublimation ink. This special coating paper is formulated to hold up in the sublimation printer, withstand the high heat of a heat press, and create beautiful, vibrant sublimation transfers to your surfaces.

Want to save this guide? Enter your email below and we’ll send the guide straight to your inbox. 
Notice: JavaScript is required for this content.

You should know that sublimation transfer paper is NOT the same as that plain copy paper you might already have in your copier or regular inkjet printer, even though it might look the same at first. A good sublimation paper has three things:

1. It holds the sublimation ink well without allowing the micro ink dots from your printer to blur together.
2. It withstands the high heat of your heat press machine.
3. It efficiently releases the dyes into your surface when heated.

Each of these is important for the sublimation process and getting the best results!

There are a lot of different sublimation papers out there, and you may be wondering what’s best to use and what’s better off avoided in your heat transfer printing projects.

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.

I have a variety of sublimation papers here in my studio — I have A-SUB 125G, A-SUB 120G, A-SUB 105G, A-SUB ECO, TruePix paper, DyeMaster-R, and Printers Jack. And there are a LOT more papers out there, too. So what’s the difference between them all? Most all of these are general sublimation papers that will work for a variety of surfaces. There are OTHERS that get more specialized, but these SHOULD all work for most sublimation jobs.

Let’s take a look at a piece of A-SUB paper. This is the BACK side of A-SUB paper, which as the word “A-SUB” print on it — be sure to print on the other side of it. The “right side” of sublimation paper is the one that is pure white, without any printing on it.

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.

So then how do you decide which is the best sublimation paper to use? One important thing I want you to pay attention to is the paper weight, like how A-SUB comes in a wide range of weights, including 125g, 120g, 105g, and ECO. These numbers refer to the WEIGHT of the paper.

A-SUB 125 g stands for 125 grams per square meter and it’s the heaviest sublimation paper. The heavier the paper and the thicker the coating, the better it will hold the ink and saturate your surface — if you want full color, vibrant designs, go for the heavier weight. This paper is my favorite and the go-to for nearly every project. It works great in my Epson printer, the printed image looks great, and has a true color. It also has a very high transfer rate, meaning that most of the sublimation ink will transfer from the paper to the surface. 125g sublimation paper also has a greater durability than the thinner paper, and it holds up under all the heat presses I’ve tried.

Tip: I’ve found the 120 g sublimation paper is just as good as the 125 g paper, and often less expensive!

If you use the 125 or 120 gram paper and get wheel marks, however, you may want a lighter paper, like 105 gsm. This heavier paper can also cause issues with rigid and hard surfaces (hard substrate), as the ink has no where to go and can blur or ghost — if this happens, again, go with a thinner paper.

A-SUB 105g is the one hundred and five gram paper, and it’s the lightest sublimation paper. So now you may be wondering why we’d want lighter paper if heavier gives the best and most saturated color. Well, it turns out that light sublimation paper like holds a little less ink and this is better when you’re making seamless designs, like our full-color sublimation doormat or even a sublimation tumbler. The lighter paper is ALSO better for some printers that can get wheel lines or pick up extra ink when going through the printer. For example, when I switched to 105 gram paper on my Epson Workforce, it worked much better. The catch with 105 gram paper is that it is more likely to curl with high temperatures, and it doesn’t do as well with heavy ink saturation — the low weight of the paper is more likely to cause moving, bleeding, and ghosting, And if your surface just looks dull and faded, like a T-shirt, it could also be related to the low weight of the paper — use the heavier paper to get more ink on it and more ink on your surface.

But what about the ECO paper by A-SUB? It’s basically less expensive sublimation paper. So if you’re doing a LOT of sublimation printing, you could use this, but it’s really only a little less money … I’m not sure it’s worth it, personally, unless you’re working in volume. I test out whether this paper is the same as the other papers in my video.

So WEIGHT of sublimation paper is a big factor. Another factor can be the compatibility of the paper with your printer. For example, TruePix paper is optimized to work with Sawgrass sublimation printers. It’s 120 grams and works on a variety of surfaces.

DyeMaster-R sublimation paper is optimized to work for Epson and it’s 105 grams. I am not sure why it’s so thin, but it could be because the Epson Workforce, which is one of the first printers people began converting to sublimation years ago, really needs a thinner paper.

Now, you may have heard of people using regular paper for sublimation, for example laser copy paper. It’s possible to use laser copy paper because it’s formulated to withstand the high heat of your heat press. The question is if inkjet heat transfer paper can hold and release the ink well enough, however.

So I thought we should do a TEST of six different papers — three A-SUB papers, TruePix paper, Laser Paper, and a regular Copy Paper, just so you can see what it looks like for each one. Here’s what each one looks like pressed onto polyester fabric (I used garden flag sublimation blanks):

The top results are what I think are the best sublimation paper — A-SUB 125G and A-SUB 105G. It’s always a good idea to do a test like this when you’re first learning to use your dye sublimation printer or are trying out a new sublimation project or special paper.

Q: What is the best paper for sublimation?
A: While some people will use just regular laser paper, I really recommend you use special sublimation paper for the best and most vibrant results and ink transfer. I used A-SUB paper during my tests.

Q: Can I just use photo paper for sublimation?
No, it typically cannot withstand the high temperature of your heat press.

Q: How do I test my sublimation prints for vibrancy and color?
A: Use my free subliflower design to see how your colors look! It’s Design #385 in my resource library!

Q: What is the best sublimation printer?
This depends a lot of your needs, but check out my article on the best sublimation printers!

Q: How do I learn sublimation for beginners?
A: Join Sublimation Startup for a logical, step-by-step guide to getting setup for success with sublimation! You can ask questions and feel confident that you’ll get help! The Sublimation Startup mini-course is also great for those who enjoy learning from Jennifer Maker’s easy-to-understand, calm, and clear method of teaching. This is a no-fluff, no-mess, no-distraction workshop … it’s like sitting down with Jennifer in her craft room to learn directly from her! We work in logical steps to build your understanding and confidence with sublimation, and then provide support to keep helping you as you continue on your journey! Register now!

I also have a group just for sublimation crafting where you can get help and tips from other crafters who love to sublimate, too! Come join us at to ask questions, share ideas, and get inspired!!

I hope this helps you find the right sublimation paper for your next project. Watch for more sublimation tutorials and please ask any questions you have in our Facebook group or tag me on social media with #jennifermaker.

How to Use Sublimation Transfer Paper

printingJaime Ghisays

Sublimation printing is used to transfer images onto a variety of materials from t-shirts to ceramic mugs. It allows you to create personalized items from photos, graphic designs, and more. Sublimation is especially well suited for printing on clothing, as the ink is assimilated into the fibers of the fabric. You can’t feel the image on the material, making it more comfortable than screen printed designs. 

In order to try sublimation printing, you’ll need a specific type of transfer paper, a sublimation printer, sublimation ink, and a heat press. The image is printed onto the sublimation paper, then transferred to the garment with a heat press. In order to master sublimation printing, it is necessary to know how to use the transfer paper properly. Here’s how it’s done. 

Step By Step Instructions for Using Sublimation Paper 

Here’s the process for sublimation printing broken down step by step: 

  1. Prepare the printer. The first step is to prepare the printer for sublimation printing. Load the sublimation ink and be sure the printhead is clean and ready.
  2. Load the paper. Load the sublimation paper into the printer according to the instructions on the package. The bright white side of the paper should be receiving the image.
  3. Flip the image. On your computer, the image will need to be flipped or reversed (like a mirror image) in order for it to transfer properly onto the garment.
  4. Print. Initiate printing through your computer and ensure that the printer activates. Check the image after printing to ensure it is correct before transferring onto the garment.
  5. Prepare the garment. Sublimation printing does not require the garment to be pretreated. However, for best results it helps to preheat the garment to remove wrinkles and moisture. Press the garment in the heat press for a few seconds before applying the image.
  6. Position the image. Position the image where you would like it to appear on the garment. Then place either a sheet of either teflon or parchment paper. Teflon often comes with your sublimation printer and is designed to be reusable after cleaning.
  7. Press. Press the image down onto the garment with the heat press and hold for the specified amount of time for the type of garment you are printing. For most fabrics the pressing time is about 30 seconds. For firm items the press time may be more like 60-90 seconds.
  8. Remove. Remove the sublimation paper from the garment and then remove the garment from the heat press. Lay flat to cool.

Tips for Success with Sublimation Paper

Here are some additional tips to help you print successfully with sublimation paper: 

  • Remove backing. Be sure to remove the protective backing from your sublimation paper, if there is one. Some types of sublimation paper include a clear layer that needs to be removed before printing the image onto the paper.
  • Secure your image. When you are ready to transfer the image from the sublimation printer to your garment, secure the paper with heat resistant tape or adhesive spray. This will prevent it from shifting as the heat press is applied.
  • Trim the paper. After you print the image onto the sublimation paper and it has fully dried, trim around your image before pressing to prevent a square shape from being visible on your garment.

Get Your Sublimation Printing Supplies from carries an extensive inventory of sublimation printers, heat presses, sublimation ink, sublimation paper, and other supplies you need for success. We carry a variety of Epson printers and supplies to help you achieve professional results. 

Visit today or browse our online catalog. 

Tags: Printing, Sublimation printing

Previous articleNext article

Join Us

Subscribe to get special sales, events, & Industry News

Your email

100% free, Unsubscribe any time!

Sublimation paper



Sublimation paper


Sublimation paper

Sublimation paper is a material specially developed for thermal transfer technology. The surface of such paper has a special coating that prevents the absorption of ink deep into the sheet. Due to the fact that they do not spread while remaining on the surface, when printing, it is possible to achieve photographic quality, which in terms of its resolution is in no way inferior to a matte image. When the ink dries, it has a three-dimensional appearance and rises slightly above the surface of the sheet. During the transfer process, almost all the ink transfers to the workpiece, leaving behind a pale imprint. Due to this, paper, the density of which is 90-120 gr/m2, has a bright and saturated color.

Structure of sublimation paper

In the process of creation, sublimation paper is treated with special chemicals, therefore it is a loose product that has external differences from ordinary paper. The substrate of such paper, intended for sublimation printing, is distinguished by the most dense structure, which allows it not to absorb ink. This paper composition is used as an intermediate carrier for ink transfer.

In the picture you can clearly see the differences between sublimation paper and regular matte paper. As you can see, sublimation paper, unlike the matte surface, does not absorb ink. Due to this “non-absorbency” property, the transfer of ink into the workpiece is carried out completely.

When choosing sublimation paper, you should approach this issue very responsibly. Poor quality media may warp during ink filling, which will adversely affect print speed and quality.

An important role in maintaining the operational characteristics of sublimation paper is played by its storage conditions. In rooms with high humidity, the media curls slightly, which makes it difficult to print (the printer’s print head will rub and smudge the edges of the paper) and affect the clarity of transfer and hue saturation. This is due to the fact that a special coating is applied to the surface of the sublimation paper. Therefore, store the sublimation paper in a dark and dry place without removing it from the packaging.

Side for printing

Sublimation paper has a “front” (“working”), which is responsible for the saturation and quality of the print, and the reverse side. The “working” side of the paper has a corresponding mark from the manufacturer. At first glance, both sides of the paper have a similar appearance, but if you look closely, you will notice that the front side has a more porous and matte surface. If you run a wet finger along the “working” side of the paper, you can feel how the paper sticks to it slightly. The reverse side is slightly fibrous and slightly shiny.

In order not to damage the front layer of sublimation paper when working, you should be as careful as possible. Remember to wear gloves or pre-lubricate your hands with alcohol.

Sublimation paper weights and sizes

Sublimation paper manufacturers produce 3 main sizes:

  • A4 – the most common size
  • A3 – Less commonly used due to the cost of A3 inkjet printers. In most cases, 2 sheets of A4 format folded into A3 format are used. This is a good solution in the absence of an A3 inkjet printer, but it is worth considering that the layout must be prepared accordingly.
  • A2 – used very rarely, because when printing, large-format inkjet printers are used – plotters, which are very expensive. You can also simply fold 2 A3 sheets and properly prepare the layout.

The density of sublimation paper should be low, for ease of use and ease of bending. As a rule, the density of such paper is 90 – 120 g / m2. When the density of sublimation paper is below 90 g/m2, printing a full fill will be very difficult due to deformation, and with small distances between the material and the print head, it will be impossible at all. Also, very thin sublimation paper can shrink, impairing ink registration.

Fixing paper on the blank

Very often beginners have a question: “ How to fix sublimation paper on the blank? ” It is recommended to use adhesive tape. But not a simple stationery or masking tape, because it will melt from high temperature, but a special thermal tape . Its use will help you quickly and securely fix the sublimation paper on the workpiece. At the same time, the thermal tape does not leave marks and defects on the product.


As an example of how sublimation paper works, let’s make a plate.

  1. We print the image on an inkjet printer with sublimation ink on sublimation paper.
  2. We carry out sublimation thermal transfer. As a result, we see that the sublimation paper “gave” almost all the ink to the surface of the plate.

On our website you can find a decent assortment of sublimation paper made in China, Korea, etc. The use of high-quality materials and advanced technologies allows us to create reliable and durable products that meet all generally accepted standards. Sublimation paper is sold in various price categories, which will make it a profitable purchase for buyers with different budgets.

definition, characteristics, storage and use features

One of the essential steps in indirect sublimation printing is the application of a dye to sublimation paper. Therefore, when organizing such printing, attention should be paid not only to the purchase of a printer, thermal press and ink, but also to the purchase of suitable paper. At the same time, the choice of paper must be approached wisely, taking into account a number of factors, including the format and density of the consumable.

Today we will tell you what sublimation paper is, and also consider the main characteristics of this consumable. Additionally, let’s talk about the nuances of storing sublimation paper and the features of printing using it.

What is sublimation paper?

Before you continue reading, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with published articles on sublimation technology and the principles of operation of a sublimation printer. This step will allow you to understand the essence and features of sublimation printing, as well as to find out the purpose of the equipment and materials used for thermal transfer using this technology. Further, we will talk directly about sublimation paper, and we will begin the review by considering the essence and purpose of this product.

Sublimation paper is a special paper used for transferring images onto other materials. Initially, a picture is applied to this paper (sublimation ink is used). Then the paper is applied to a workpiece made of fabric, plastic or other material, followed by heating with a thermal press and, as a result, thermal transfer of the image directly onto the workpiece.

The use of the sublimation method requires the perfect fixation of dyes in the structure of the final workpiece. Therefore, sublimation printing paper has certain features that allow you to easily achieve your goal:

  • Structure. The mentioned paper consists of two layers – outer (printed base) and inner (impermeable substrate).
  • Absorption. Paper poorly absorbs ink, holding dyes above the work surface, thereby creating ideal conditions for the subsequent thermal transfer of ink to the workpiece.
  • Recoil. The return rate of ink (during the thermal transfer process) from the basis of such paper reaches 97%. Due to this, the dye is transferred almost completely, which means that the image remains very high quality. At the same time, the ink on the final workpiece (T-shirt or any other product) is fixed very reliably (as it penetrates into the structure of the product). Thanks to this, the print lasts for many years without fading or fading (without serious reasons).

The appearance of sublimation paper may vary (this parameter depends on the manufacturer), but the purpose and features of its use remain unchanged. Therefore, all varieties of such products are suitable for thermal transfer. The main thing is that the paper is really sublimation and has the optimal parameters for interacting with specific materials. Useful information on this issue is presented in the video.

Sublimation paper sizes and weights

These products are available in sheets and rolls. Sublimation paper format is selected depending on the size of the required prints. For example, it is convenient to transfer images to T-shirts and T-shirts using A4 and A3 sublimation paper. For thermal transfer of larger prints, sublimation paper A2 and large formats are used. In the process of choosing such products, it is necessary to evaluate the dimensions of the blanks and the prints applied to them. And still it is necessary not to forget about restrictions of the used printer. Models for the home are usually printed on A4 sheets (sometimes on A3). Production models can also print on A2-A0 paper.

When it comes to weight, 90-120 g/m 2 is usually used for printing on fabrics (e. g. synthetic t-shirts), but heavier paper can be used for thermal transfer on mugs and similar souvenirs. . We do not recommend using light weight paper (less than 90 g/m 2 ) as it often warps during thermal transfer. At the same time, it is not always advisable to use too dense material. It bends way too bad.

Sublimation printer paper storage guidelines First of all, you need to take care of maintaining the humidity at the level of 30-50%. A lower value will curl the sheets and bend their corners. When printing on mugs and plates, this is not critical, but if you use warped thermal transfer paper on flat surfaces, the image may be fuzzy. If the recommended humidity indicator is exceeded, deformation also occurs, and the paper itself quickly deteriorates.

Store paper in a dark, regularly ventilated area. Ideally, direct sunlight should be avoided. Unless absolutely necessary, it is better not to take the sheets out of the package and not unwind the rolls (if the paper is supplied in this form). Do not store in dusty or frankly dirty places.

How to print on sublimation paper?

Before sending paper to the printer, you need to figure out which side to print on. To do this, it is enough to compare both sides of the sheet and visually (in some situations tactilely) determine the printed base. In the print settings, you need to set the mode to “Best Photo”. Images must be printed in a mirror image, otherwise they will not display correctly after thermal transfer to final blanks.

After printing the picture on paper, you can start creating a print on the workpiece. For this you need a heat press. First you need to put the workpiece on the lower surface of the press, and place the prepared sublimation paper with the image on top (so that the location of the picture coincides with the place of its desired placement on the workpiece). Next, you need to cover all this with a clean sheet, and then fix it with the upper surface (clamp) of the heat press and turn on the device.