Do Screen-Printed Shirts Crack?

Do Screen-Printed Shirts Crack cover image

Screen printing is a popular method of making personalized t-shirts because it results in high-quality, durable designs that are visually appealing. One question that is commonly asked is whether or not screen-printed shirts will crack over time.

Screen-printed shirts can crack over time if low-quality ink and fabric are used. To ensure longevity, handle the shirt gently to avoid stressing the design. Washing and drying the shirt according to the instructions and storing it properly can also help extend the life of the design.

If you’re curious about the durability of screen-printed t-shirts and whether or not they are prone to cracking, read on to learn more about the factors that can affect the longevity of screen-printed designs. Do Screen-Printed Shirts Crack? Yes, and we list some of the most common reasons below.

Common Reasons Screen-Printed Shirts Crack

Poor Quality Ink

The quality of ink used in screen printing is a major factor in determining the overall quality of the print. 

Two types of ink commonly usedOpens in a new tab. in screen printing include:

  • Plastisol
  • Water-based inks

Both of these inks have a thicker consistency than standard inks and have specific properties that make them suitable for different materials. Consistency is an important attribute regarding ink quality in screen printing. 

Inks can be classified as either loose or stiffOpens in a new tab. based on their consistency. Low-quality inks may lack consistency and result in poor print quality. 

Soft hand clear and curable reducers can improve ink consistency and print quality. Soft hand clear adjusts the pigmentation of the ink and makes it creamier for easier screen printing. In contrast, a curable reducer adjusts the adhesive properties of the ink and allows it to spread more easily.

To achieve a high-quality print, it is important to maintain consistent ink viscosity, whether you’re using plastisol or water-based ink. 

Incorrect Curing

Cracking and fading of screen prints often result from inadequate curing. To produce a high-quality print, it is essential to ensure that the print area is exposed to a constant, even, and stable heat distribution. 

The curing temperature required for water-based inks is usually between 320–370ºF (160ºC–188ºC), while plastisol typically requires a curing temperature of 300–340ºF (149ºC–171ºC).

Home printers often use heat presses, home ovens, or heat guns to cure. In contrast, professional printers typically use specialized equipment such as a Vevor flash dryer.

I recommend the VEVOR 1700W Flash DryerOpens in a new tab. (available on This 1700-watt flash dryer is suitable for curing silkscreen printing on paper, curling iron die-cut steels, silk garments, and other drying. It has a large power and baking area to dry your product quickly, and the 360-degree level swivel head makes it easy to bring out the product at any time. This dryer can be used for various applications, including home offices and presses.

VEVOR Flash Dryer 16x16Inch 1700W Flash Dryer for Screen Printing with Electrical Control Box Screen Printing Dryer Adjustable Stand T-Shirt Curing Machine (16x16 Inch with Electrical Control Box) Opens in a new tab.
  • ★★LARGE POWER AND BAKING AREA--1700 Watt, on/off switch and over current protection;16" x 16"...
  • ★★ SUITABLE DRYING TEMPERATURE--The temperature is over 140 degrees F at distance of 3" below...
  • ★★ADJUSTABLE HEIGHT TAND--Range of silk dryer between drying box and ground:...

Last update on 2023-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Achieving the correct curing temperature and duration is essential to prevent cracking, which can be caused by under-curing or over-curing. Finding the optimal balance between cure temperature and time is important to achieve the best results, regardless of the curing tool used. 

Incorrect Printing Technique

The specific screen printing techniqueOpens in a new tab. can also affect whether the print will crack over time. Different techniques can produce varying results, so choosing the one that best aligns with your desired outcome is important. 

Some screen printing techniques include the following:

  • Spot color screen printing is ideal for creating vibrant, solid spots of color on garments such as t-shirts, hoodies, and jackets. 
  • Halftone printing, which produces single colors in gradients, is a cost-effective way to achieve multi-color printing using only a single color. 
  • Grayscale printing is a cost-effective way to print black-and-white designs onto fabrics.
  • Duotone printing, which combines a black and white halftone with a second color halftone, is a more advanced technique that is best left to professionals. 

If the wrong technique is used, the print will crack, peel, flake, and fade. Also, screens and meshes should be properly handled for a quality finish. 

Other important considerations regarding technique include:

  • Ink layers
  • Print size
  • The press

Wear and Tear

Inevitably, the print on your t-shirt will eventually crack and fade over time due to factors such as: 

  • Friction
  • Washing
  • Temperature

To extend the lifespan of your screen print, it is important to handle your t-shirt with care during washing and storage by doing the following: 

  • Turn the fabric inside out before washing it in a machine to reduce friction. 
  • Be sure to set the washing machine to the appropriate temperature to prevent cracking and fading of the print. 
  • To further preserve the print, try to minimize the number of times you wash the fabric.

Poor Quality Shirt

Screen printing on low-quality fabric can result in cracking. To avoid this issue, it is important to use fabric with the following qualities: 

  • Tight construction
  • Dense weight
  • High twist of yarn

Fabric quality should not be underestimated in the screen printing process.

How To Ensure the Longevity of Screen-Printed Shirts

You’ll want to ensure that the screen-printed design remains vibrant and legible for as long as possible. Here are some tips for ensuring the longevity of screen-printed shirts.

Use High-Quality Ink

To achieve high-quality screen printing results, it is recommended to use high-quality ink. It is also important to properly thin the ink for optimal consistency. 

I recommend the Rapid Cure Screen Printing InkOpens in a new tab. (available on This ink is much faster than most other brands, which means no more waiting for prints to dry with this product. They have a variety of colors to choose from, and the silk screen ink allows you to use any printing method, including heat presses and flash dryers, even though they specialize in the home screen printing market.

Fuchsia (8oz) - Plastisol Ink for Screen Printing Fabric - Low Temperature Curing Plastisol by Screen Print Direct - Fast Cure Ink for Silk Opens in a new tab.
  • Lightning Fast Cure - Cure your prints in just over a minute! With our Rapid Cure Plastisol Inks....
  • Low Bleed and Very Versatile - Our silk screen ink allows you to print paint on a variety textiles...
  • Screen Print Ink with Style - Our fabric screen printing ink yields a bold, vibrant, and highly...

Last update on 2023-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Use the Right Printing Technique

To achieve your desired results, carefully consider which printing technique is most appropriate. 

Additionally, be sure to properly prepare your stencils, meshes, and presses for use. Doing some trial runs before starting the actual printing process may be helpful.

Wash and Dry the Shirts Properly

Some washing tips for screen-printed shirts Opens in a new tab.include:

  • Turn the shirt inside out before washing it. This will help protect the screen print from rubbing against other clothes or surfaces in the wash.
  • Wash the shirt in cold water. Hot water can cause the screen print to fade or peel.
  • Use a mild detergent. Strong detergents can cause the screen print to fade or peel.
  • Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners. These products can also cause damage to the screen print.
  • Hang the shirt to dry or tumble dry on a low heat setting. High heat can result in cracking or peeling of the screen print.
  • Don’t iron the screen print directly. If you need to iron the shirt, place a cloth over the screen print and iron on a low heat setting.
  • Avoid exposing your screen-printed shirts to direct sunlightOpens in a new tab.
  • Avoid touching your shirts with oil and sweat.

Final Words

Screen-printed shirts can crack over time due to various factors, such as the quality of the ink and the material of the shirt. However, proper care and handling can help prolong the life of the design and prevent cracking. It is important to follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer and to handle the shirt gently to avoid stressing the design. 

Ultimately, the likelihood of cracking will depend on the specific shirt and design in question.

Advanced MerchOpens in a new tab.
Was this article helpful?


Ines, a self-taught artist from Caracas now based in the UK, explores diverse forms of art, from unconventional materials to sustainable and responsible use of resources.

Recent Posts