There are many variables when it comes to printing on vinyl from a home inkjet printer. When someone asks me, “is printable vinyl waterproof” the answer depends on a few factors.
First, what kind of vinyl are you going to use? Most printable vinyl is classified as permanent vinyl, and it should be considered “weather resistant” for outdoor use. Your printed projects should last one to three years, depending on the brand of vinyl.
Glossy finish printable vinyl should be more durable than matte or flat finish. You can also extend the life of your decal or graphic by laminating it after printing.
Ink Choice is very important for outdoor durability
Another factor is what kind of ink your are using. Standard inkjet printer ink is not for outdoor use. This is because standard inkjet ink (also known as aqueous ink) is dye based and water soluble. Projects printed on vinyl with aqueous inkjet ink will last weeks or months outside because of water and UV exposure.
Pigment based inks will significantly prolong your printed vinyl’s outdoor lifespan. These inks consist of fine powders dissolved in a carrier liquid. Printing industry professionals and photographers favor pigment inks; they are meant to be used with paper, although not necessarily vinyl.
Even though these inks aren’t formulated specifically to be used with vinyl, they will not run when wet and will not fade as quickly when exposed to UV light. You should expect pigment inks to last about 2 years on outdoor vinyl.
Eco-solvent and Solvent inks are the true gold standard for outdoor printed vinyl. These inks are specifically formulated for print on vinyl billboards, signs, vehicle graphics, window displays, garment transfers and more. They are formulated to withstand UV damage for years and are completely water resistant.
Only specialty commercial printers can use eco-solvent or solvent inks, and they are wide format (20″ wide or larger) and cost several thousand dollars. While they are expensive to purchase and require expensive inks, they are a mainstay of the printing and sign making industry because the quality of print is very high and the prints are profitable.
Can I use Printed Vinyl Tumblers in the Dishwasher?
When people ask about printed vinyl, they usually ask “Is printed vinyl dishwasher safe?
You should assume that no vinyl is going to stand up to the rigors of the dishwasher for everyday use, and that includes printable vinyl.
The combination of heat, detergent and pressurized water spray can be detrimental to the vinyl adhesive and finish. If you are making specialty tumblers or mugs (especially as gifts or for sale commercially) you should always hand wash!
If you are making decals, stickers or ceramics using printed vinyl, expect the design to last about three years. When you are selling these items, be upfront about it with your customers. Let them know that the products are weather-resistant and waterproof to a point. Tell your customers to take extra care if it’s a glass or mug that needs washing.
If you are looking for high quality printers that also cut vinyl, check out our reviews of the Best Combination Printer-Cutter machines.