Cricut Removable Vinyl vs. Oracal 631
What are your thoughts on Cricut vinyl and Oracal vinyl? To be honest, I've been a big fan of Oracal vinyl for years. When I first got my Cricut almost three years ago, Cricut vinyl was the first thing I tried. However, I was pretty underwhelmed by it then, to be honest. It seemed too expensive and not that high of quality. That's when I started searching for another brand of vinyl and came across Oracal. I have been using Oracal for the past few years until I recently learned that Cricut has completely changed their vinyl! As of the beginning of this year/end of last year, Cricut released a new "formula" of vinyl, so I thought I would share everything I've learned with you guys about both vinyl!
Cutting the Vinyl
To start, let's talk about how these two brands of vinyl cut with the Cricut. I cut both kinds of vinyl on both my Maker and my Explore Air. I figured there wouldn't be any difference between cutting them on the machines and I was right. I cut them on the same settings and they both cut perfectly on each machine. As far as cutting goes, I would say there is no difference between the vinyl here.
I also would like to add that getting the vinyl ON the mat was a breeze for both Oracal and Cricut. In the past, my Cricut vinyl used to roll up in a ball as I was applying it and I really wasn't a fan of that. It would also roll up after I took it off the mat, which was pretty annoying and made weeding difficult. I'm happy to report that that is no longer an issue (cue happy dance).
Weeding the Vinyl
I spend a LOT of time weeding, so I don't have time to mess around with vinyl that won't weed effortlessly. Have you ever had the inside of letters come up while you're weeding the letter (and you need it to stay down on the paper)? That's a pet peeve of mine. When that happens, then you have to manually hold down the inside of the letters with a weeder tool while you weed away the outside of the letters. It's just more time consuming.
While I was weeding, I found that I experienced this a lot more with Oracal than Cricut. It didn't happen ALL the time but far more than Cricut. The Cricut vinyl (specifically when weeding the inside of letters like "e" and "o") actually stayed in placed while I was weeding. Super grateful for that!
Texture, Feel + Design of Vinyl
While this may not be the biggest factor in which vinyl you choose to use, it definitely is a factor. This is just my personal opinion, but the Oracal vinyl itself felt much thicker than the Cricut vinyl. It also had a paper backing whereas the Cricut had a shinier, thinner paper backing. The Oracal vinyl was much heavier than the Cricut vinyl. I thought this would maybe play into the outcome of some projects I made but it actually didn't seem to matter at all. Just something to note. I also noticed that the Oracal 631 vinyl has a matte finish, whereas the Cricut vinyl is a little glossier (but not like a high-gloss). The Oracal vinyl scratched easier than the Cricut vinyl.
Also, another huge difference in the design of the vinyl is that Oracal 631 (as far as I know -- I'm not a product expert in it) just has solid colors for vinyl; whereas, Cricut has tons of different kinds of vinyls. You can get vinyl that has texture to it, patterns on it, etc. I really appreciate this about Cricut. And they're releasing new ones constantly!
One thing that was disappointing to me about Oracal vinyl was how it lays AFTER you cut it - it cups (see below; it's the one on the left). I was really surprised at just how flat the Cricut vinyl laid. I really appreciated that about the Cricut vinyl. If you're wondering why this matters - it just is a little more challenging when applying transfer tape and your vinyl is cupped.
Painting Over Vinyl Stencil
I make a lot of wood signs, which is mostly what I use my vinyl for. I did not notice any difference between Oracal and Cricut vinyl as far as paint bleeding through goes. In the past, I felt like Cricut vinyl seeped more paint through the vinyl stencil, but I am happy to report that it does not anymore (and I made about 50 signs with Oracal and 50 with Cricut -- they both came out the same).
Applying Vinyl to Surfaces
I did a test on applying Cricut vinyl to a mug and running it through the dishwasher about 20 times. I'm happy to report that it has entirely stuck! I'm in the middle of doing another test with Oracal 631 on a mug, but I'm sure there won't be any issues with it sticking. Cricut says that their vinyl will last for 2+ years and Oracal advertises 3+ years. It all depends on the wear and tear of the vinyl, but they both seem really sturdy.
Cost of Vinyl
Depending on what your needs are, I think cost is one of the biggest factors when it comes to what vinyl you use. For easy math, let's look at the cost of 48" of vinyl or four 12x12" sheets. I've found that you typically can purchase Oracal sheets in 12x12" or 12x24". When I last purchased Oracal vinyl, a 12x12" sheet came to $1.25/sheet. If you buy it in a 24" sheet, then the cost comes to $1.99. So basically you're spending $1 (if you buy the bigger sheet) for 12x12" or $1.25 (if you buy a 12x12" sheet).
With Cricut, if you buy a roll of Cricut vinyl from us at Craft-e-Corner, it typically will cost about $3.69 which makes it $0.92 per 12x12" (information as of 8.26.19).
So the cost difference is $0.92 (Cricut) to $1.00 (Oracal)...and obviously this does not include shipping.
If you're needing a TON of vinyl, I would look into bulk options from both brands and compare. Typically, the more you buy, the cheaper it gets.
Using Transfer Tape with Vinyl
Another important part of working with vinyl is making sure that it works good with transfer tape! If it can't transfer well, then it's not going to be worth your time. I used Cricut's Transfer Tape on both and also some other transfer tape that I had to see how each would react to apply the vinyl to wood. Both reacted really well and stuck perfectly to the boards. This was important for me to try out because in the past, I had a hard time getting the Cricut vinyl to transfer well (especially with Cricut transfer tape). Now I don't have any problems working with either!
In conclusion, if I had to pick a vinyl now that I would prefer to use, I don't know that I could pick one. But one thing is for sure, I am excited to say I will be buying a lot of Cricut vinyl now! I love all of their patterns and designs that they are consistently putting out. Some of my favorite is from their line with Natalie Malan. That's a huge advantage to Cricut vinyl; they seem to have a wider range of options than Oracal. But all this to say, both brands are great vinyl options!
If you're like me and haven't tried Cricut vinyl in a while, I hope you try it out again soon! I'm really thrilled about it. What are your thoughts on Oracal and Cricut vinyl?