x Request Quote

Screen Printing

What is Screen Printing?

Screen printing is the most common method for printing a custom t-shirt. This tried-and-true practice involves us creating multiple physical screens of your design, one for each color, and then using a squeegee to push ink onto the garment through these screens.  Due to its versatility, screen printing is the industry standard technique in the t-shirt printing business. It offers many different ways to make a really special custom printed shirt.

screen printing press machine with a black long sleeve shirt on the press

The Benefits of Screen Printing include:

  • A durable, long-lasting print
  • Incredible color saturation on both light and dark-colored garments
  • Extremely versatile: can accommodate many styles, specialty prints, and fabrics
  • Ideal for:
    • Large orders (minimum of 24)
    • Designs with up to 8 colors
  • The Screen Printing Process

    close-up of a screen printing squeegee

    Think of screen printing as a form of stenciling. We convert your design into a series of mesh stencils, literally screens. We use these screens to lay each color of your design on a shirt.

  • Screen Printing Inks

    overhead close-up buckets of yellow, red, blue, and green screen printing plastisol inks

    We mainly use 2 types of ink for screen printing: plastisol ink and water-based ink. Each has its own strength, ranging from vibrancy to lightweight prints.

  • Specialty Screen Printing

    close-up of a gold foil printed t-shirt saying 'Good or Great'

    With screen printing, we can apply a variety of specialty inks and techniques to add some very cool effects to your custom tee, such as Metallic Foil and Discharge printing.

  • Full Color Screen Printing

    close-up of a full-color simulated process screen print of a burning skull

    Screen printing is capable of producing full-color prints using only a limited color palette. We can achieve highly detailed screen prints with special half-tone printing techniques.

While screen printing is the most involved, time-consuming printing process, its flexibility makes it the go-to method for most of your custom shirt needs if ordering in large quantities. There are no setup fees here at CustomTees, but because of the setup time required to make the screens, screen printing requires a minimum order of 24 shirts or more per design. If you're looking to make a fewer number of shirts, we suggest you look at our Direct to Garment or Heat Transfer Vinyl services for your custom t-shirt needs. 

4-color screen printed black t-shirt of a football field and school logo and mascot for Tuskegee Football 10 Year Anniversary
3-color screen printed black t-shirt of a cobra and Texas flag for Texas Cobra Club
half-tone screen printed white t-shirt of a detailed photograph of a person holding a newspaper saying 'Our Freedom Can’t Wait'
3-color screen printed heather grey t-shirt of a knight logo for Knights Basketball Team

All of these are examples of screen printed shirts. As you can see, screen printing can accommodate for a few colors, many colors, simple designs, and even detailed photographs.

Submitting Your Design for Screen Printing

Before we can start making screens based on your design, we first need a digital version of your design that follows these simple guidelines:

  • File Format:
    • Vector Files: EPS, SVG, AI, PDF
    • Raster Files: PSD, TIF, PNG, JPG, PDF
  • Resolution:
    • at least 300 DPI at the size you wish to be printed
  • Colors:
    • For Screen Printing: 8 or fewer colors

If you submit a raster file like a JPG or PNG, we will need to convert it to a vector format and separate the colors by layer before we can begin working with the design for screen printing. 

We’ll send you an example of what the final artwork will look like, and once you’re happy with it, we can begin converting your design for screen printing.

If any of that was confusing to you, don’t worry! Just let us know you need help, and we will be happy to assist you! 

illustration of a t-shirt being screen printed

Screen Printing FAQ

Why should I choose screen printing for my custom shirt instead of direct to garment or heat transfer vinyl?

Screen printing is ideal for large, bulk orders of shirts. While the initial screen creation process can be time-consuming, once the screens are created, we can transfer the design to many different shirts at once. Direct to Garment and Heat Transfer Vinyl shirts can only be produced one at the time and are therefore ideal for small orders. 

Is there a minimum order on screen printed t-shirts?

Yes. Because of the screen creation process, we require a minimum order of 24 shirts per design for screen printing. If you would like to make a smaller shirt order, please feel free to check out our Direct to Garment or
Heat Transfer Vinyl services

What kind of t-shirts can you screen print on?

Screen printing works best on cotton and cotton blend fabrics, but it can be printed on synthetic material like polyester just as well with careful considerations.

Is there a limit to the colors my design can have with Screen Printing?

Your design can have 1 to 8 different colors in it. If you require a full-color design, we can simulate it with simulated process printing.

How long does a screen printed shirt last?

As long as you take good care of your custom tee, the screen printed design should last as long as the fabric it’s printed on does. If you need to clean the shirt, the general rules you can follow are to wash it inside out without harsh detergents and air dry when possible. 

Got any more questions?

If your question wasn’t answered here, you can contact us via phone or email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

Talk To A T-Shirt Design Specialist!