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  • Writer's pictureRichard Sessa

10 Common Screen Printing Misconceptions

Professional screen-printing is widely done mainly using machinery, but there are some manual parts in the steps.  This means better overall quality versus other methods, but with it come to a few things to keep in mind. These 10 common screen printing misconceptions hold true for screen-printers all around the world.

Sample Prints.

You may wonder why you can’t get a sample of your shirt or order just one shirt. Overhead and setup costs are fixed no matter how many shirts you print. Once a press is set-up and ready to go it really doesn’t make that much of a difference if you are running 50 tees or 5000 tees. When you increase your total quantity it allows the screen printer to eat up a lot of their overhead cost. This is why you get a much better price break when going with a larger quantity of tees and why it would be crazy expensive to only print one shirt.

Inventory On-Hand.

When you want to place your order, keep in mind that we do not inventory all items on our website. There are too many styles, brands, and colors for us to keep in our warehouse, so we order your garments when you pay your invoice. You can read more about the reasons for this here. This is also the reason why sometimes a garment is not available – while we check before an order is final to see if our distributors have what you want, that can change in an instant. So it’s best to move quickly through the estimate and invoice process if you are worried about getting a specific garment.

Variance in Placement.

Expect a half-inch tolerance from one garment to the next. Since the apparel is manually placed on the frame (or paddle as it’s called in the biz), art placement may have a slight variance from one garment to the next. Keep that in mind as you design your shirts, as well as when you get your finished goods! The standard variances are often unnoticeable when garments are actually worn.

Geometric Designs Alter Once Printed.

A circle or square may be perfect on the web, but once the garment is stretched over the frame, the threads separate slightly. When the garment lays flat, a geometric shape will not appear perfectly symmetrical. This also means once the garment is worn, the shapes will change because our bodies aren’t flat screens!

Not all Garments can be De-tagged.

This typically happens with tank tops, as many that won’t work for de-tagging are ones that are sewn onto the inside of the collar, not under the seam. This means the tag must be cut out of the shirts, leaving a little bit of the tag left in the seam. Other tags are sewn at both ends on top of the seam, not underneath the seam. The way they’re sewn in, you cannot remove them without making holes in the shirt.

Different Shirts, Same Design.

So while you can’t change the design for one set of prints, you can change the style shirt being used! This means that you can use different styles of shirts in similar colors on the same screen print setup. So if you want to make your garment available in different men’s and women’s styles you can! Keep in mind that if the shirt is a different material or color it will react with the inks in a certain way, but we will advise you every step of the way.

Materials and Inks THAT MATCH.

Most of the time, your desired garment feel and printing process can go hand-in-hand, but not always. Discharge inks work best on 100% cotton shirts. Using lighter water-based ink on darker garments will often give a faded look. Another example is that process printing with plastisol will dull the colors on your garment. If you want more details and specifics, go here, but your Customer Account Specialist will always advise you on the best way to achieve your desired outcomes.

Cotton vs. Ringspun.

To make shirts softer, yarns are ring spun, treated with enzymes and finishes, and are knit from finer gauge yarns. The result is a fabric with a butter-soft feel against the skin.

No-feel Print.

Most of the time, you don’t want to feel the ink when you run your hand over your garments. Discharge or water-based inks are the best ways to achieve this. To truly get a no-feel print you should wash your garments! Even after the first wash, there is a notable texture difference.


Even though most of the process is automated, screen-printing has unique manual elements in the process, and there will be at least 2% error in every order. Shirts can get damaged in the process or we may get shorted by the vendor. When printing with All-County Apparel, you should account for up to 3% spoilage on orders over 100, and up to 10% on jobs that are under 100 pieces. This is standard throughout the industry.


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