Clear Vinyl Fabric DIY Ultimate Guide
Not all clear vinyl fabrics are the same. This comprehensive guide dives into the differences seen in the vinyl and shows you how to pick the perfect clear vinyl for your specific needs. With our expert guidance, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to select the perfect clear vinyl, ensuring a beautiful and long-lasting outcome, tailored to your needs.
What is Clear Vinyl?
Before we go over everything there is something to know about clear vinyl.
Clear vinyl is a type of PVC plastic that is flexible, durable, and transparent. It is made by extruding it from a machine in various thicknesses. The different thicknesses allow you to use the material for different projects.
Clear vinyl generally has additional additives that regular vinyl doesn’t have. Color additives, UV stabilizers, cold crack stabilizers, and fire retardants are added to improve the quality of clear vinyl. These are some of the biggest things that separate clear vinyl from regular vinyl.
Different types of plasticizers can be used for clear vinyl. We use a DOTP plasticizer which is the safest in the market. It is both lead and phthalate free.
10+ Uses of Clear Vinyl
Clear vinyl can be used for a variety of projects. You must pick the right thickness based on what you’re using it for.
1. Marine/Boat Enclosure Windows
Clear vinyl is a very popular choice for boat enclosure windows. If you’re planning on installing enclosure windows, you’ll want to go with one of the thicker clear vinyl options.
Our 60 gauge is the most popular clear vinyl used for boat enclosures. It’s one of our thickest gauges and is very heavy duty, which makes it a great option for boat enclosures
2. Porch/Patio Enclosures
Porch enclosures can benefit from being enclosed with clear vinyl. This would also require a thicker vinyl to be sure it’s more durable and can keep the porch enclosures warm.
Our 80 gauge is our thickest option and would be best for porch enclosures. You could also go with the 60 gauge option. The thickness you need will mostly depend on how you’re planning on using the porch, along with the climate in your area.
We have a helpful guide on How to enclose your porch with clear vinyl.
3. Safety Barriers
Another popular clear vinyl use is for safety barriers. You could use several different gauges for safety barriers.
Our most popular option for safety barriers is the 16 gauge thickness clear vinyl. The thickness of this vinyl is about half the thickness of a credit card.
Clear vinyl is a great option for stretching across greenhouse frames. Anything that is 16 gauge and higher would work great for greenhouses.
The 16 gauge option works well because it’s a little bit thinner, which makes it more pliable. However, if you’re looking for a thicker option, the higher gauges work well for stapling or screwing into greenhouse frames.
5. Golf Cart Windows
Clear vinyl is a great option for golf cart windows. Golf cart windows are typically going to be best with one of our medium thickness options.
The 30 gauge clear vinyl is a good choice for golf carts. It’s about the thickness of a credit card, which works well for golf cart windows.
6. Tent windows
Many people like using clear vinyl for their tent windows. This can be a good option, especially with some of our thinner to medium thick options.
Depending on how thick you want your tent windows to be, you could use any clear vinyl with thickness from 10 gauge up to 30 gauge clear vinyl.
7. Table Coverings
Another popular use for clear vinyl is for table coverings. Similarly to tent windows, you could choose any of our thinner to medium thick options.
10 gauge up to 20 gauge should all work great for table coverings.
8. Shower Curtains
Shower curtains are another great use for clear vinyl. They are generally going to be on the thinner side, but you could go as thick as you’d like for your shower curtains.
Shower curtains are most popular in the 10 gauge thickness. If you like a thicker shower curtain, you could go all the way to 20 gauge though.
9. Furniture Covers
Covering furniture is another common use for clear vinyl. Many people usually go thinner when they’re covering furniture.
Either 10 gauge or 20 gauge thickness would be good options for furniture covers.
10. Clear Stadium Bags
Clear stadium bags can be made pretty easily with clear vinyl. Many stadiums require clear bags for entry, which is a big reason why you’d consider clear vinyl for a stadium bag.
You’ll want one of our thinner options for clear stadium bags. Anywhere from 10 gauge to 18 gauge will work great for your bags.
11. Bag Liners and Purses
Similarly to stadium bags, clear vinyl works well for bag liners and purses. This is another common use where the thinner vinyl will work well.
The clear Vinyl thickness that ranges from 10 gauge to 18 gauge is a great option for bag liners and purses. You shouldn’t need anything thicker than that for your bag liners and purses.
12. Pet Doors and Chicken Coops
Clear vinyl is a popular choice for pet doors and chicken coops. The durability of some of our thicker options makes clear vinyl a great option.
The most popular thickness choice for pet doors and chicken coops is our thickest 80 gauge clear vinyl. This ensures that it’ll be durable and thick enough.
Working with Clear Vinyl
There are a few different options for cutting your clear vinyl. The best method will mostly depend on the thickness of the vinyl.
For some of the thinner gauges, a rotary cutter is going to be your best option. For our thicker gauge vinyl, use scissors or a utility knife to cut the vinyl.
Using grommets is an easy and cheap way to install clear vinyl. We have grommet kits that help you get the job done in a matter of time. The process is simple to get started with.
First, you’ll need to punch out a hole
Next, you’ll need to place the metal grommet through the hole on one side of the vinyl. Then take the second piece of the grommet and place it through the other side of the hole, sandwiching the clear vinyl. Use a hammer to tap them together so that they tighten.
Sewing with clear vinyl isn’t quite as difficult as most people think. The most important part is to make sure that you choose the right vinyl and have the sewing machine set in the right settings.
You’ll want to determine how much clear vinyl you’ll need, and what size you want to use. Thinner clear vinyl is going to be easier to sew.
Generally, using a ruler and rotary to cut the vinyl is the easiest way. Especially since the vinyl you’re sewing with is most likely going to be thinner.
Make sure that all of the wrinkles are out of the vinyl before sewing. Putting the vinyl in the sun heats the clear vinyl and it is a great way to remove the wrinkles. Lengthening the stitches and using a sharp needle is also very important to get the best result after sewing. We put together some tips for sewing with clear vinyl to complete the sewing procedure without facing any hassle.
The best way to clean clear vinyl is simply with dish soap and fresh water. There are a few different clear vinyl cleaners out there you can try as well. Two of them are 303 Clear Vinyl Cleaner and IMAR Cleaners.
Avoid using products like Windex or bleach as they can harm the clear vinyl fabric. It is highly recommended to clean the clear vinyl at least twice a year.
If you’re hoping to store your clear vinyl during the offseason, there are a few steps you should take to ensure the vinyl keeps its quality.
First, clean and dry the clear vinyl. This is an important step because the moisture in the clear vinyl can open the door for mold and mildew. If you still have the cardboard tube with which the clear vinyl was shipped, then roll the vinyl back on the tube. Once it’s on the tube, store it in a vertical position in a dry area.
What Specifications Differentiate Clear Vinyl?
The product specifications tell you what type of clear vinyl it is. At Marine Vinyl Fabric, we sell double polished extruded clear vinyl
UV resistance refers to how well the clear vinyl holds up in the sun (UV rays). The higher the UV resistance, the longer your clear vinyl will stay in good shape.
Cold crack is how well the vinyl holds up in cold conditions. If you’re in a location where it can get relatively cold, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting clear vinyl with a cold crack that can support the colder conditions.
Safe for kids
Depending on the type of clear vinyl you get, there can be harmful materials. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting clear vinyl that is safe for kids. Our clear vinyl is CPSIA (The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act ) compliant.
The PHR value is a number that determines how hard or soft the plastic is when it comes in a roll. Some plastic will be more flexible, while some will come more stiff. We keep ours at a PHR of 44.
The roll width is simply how wide in inches the entire roll of clear vinyl is. We have two different options. You can get your clear vinyl in either 52” or 72” rolls.
Plasticizer is a substance that’s added to clear vinyl to help make it softer and more flexible. Some plasticizers can contain lead and phthalates, and these can be harmful. We use a DOTP plasticizer, which is the safest on the market. It is both lead and phthalates free.
Clear Vinyl Thickness Guide
Clear vinyl comes in a variety of thicknesses. The higher the gauge, the thicker the clear vinyl is.
80 gauge is our thickest clear vinyl. It is about the thickness of a door key and is great for some of the heavier duty needs such as porch enclosures and pet doors.
60 gauge is another thicker clear vinyl. It is about the thickness of a penny. This is a very popular option for boat enclosures. It’s thick and heavy duty, which makes it a good option.
40 gauge is a great option if you’re looking to retain more heat on your porch. It’s another one of our thicker vinyls, but it’s also more affordable which makes it an attractive option as well.
30 gauge vinyl is about the thickness of a credit card. This is our top selling clear vinyl thickness for porch enclosures. It’s an affordable option that still has some thickness. It won’t retain heat as well when compared with thicker options, but still works great for porch enclosures.
20 gauge clear vinyl has a thickness of about ⅔ of a credit card. It’s a great option for thicker shower curtains, tent windows, table coverings, and furniture coverings.
The 18-gauge option isn’t quite as popular as the 16 or 20 gauge vinyl. If you’re looking for a product that’s similar to the 20 gauge, the 18 gauge is fractionally thinner but is also more affordable.
16 gauge clear vinyl has a thickness of about ½ of a credit card. This has been a popular option for safety barriers. It’s one of our thinner vinyls, which makes it more pliable. It’s also a great option for greenhouses.
The 12 gauge is often used for porch enclosures that need to be enclosed with a spline. It’s slightly thicker than our 10 gauge vinyl and is a great option for safety barriers, tent windows, clear stadium bags, bag liners, and purses.
The 10 gauge clear vinyl can be used for shower curtain. It has very similar uses as the 12 gauge, but it’s slightly thinner and more affordable.
The 8 gauge vinyl is slightly thinner than the 10 gauge. It’s a great option for tent windows, stadium bags, and purses.
The 4 gauge is our thinnest clear vinyl. This is going to be the most affordable clear vinyl and easiest vinyl to sew.
Difference Between Pressed and Extruded Vinyl
Pressed vinyl is made by taking two layers of vinyl and pressing them together to create a thicker sheet. This results in a higher quality and clearer vinyl than extruded vinyl.
Extruded vinyl is simply one sheet of vinyl, instead of two layers of vinyl pressed together. This is typically going to result in a softer and more flexible vinyl.
The main different types of clarity for clear vinyl are:
- Double Polished Clear
The biggest difference between these three is how clear they are and how well you can see through the material.
Matte is going to be the least clear type of vinyl. While it can technically still be considered “clear vinyl”, it’s not going to be quite as clear as the clear and double polished vinyl.
Regular clear vinyl has more clarity than matte vinyl, but it’s not quite as clear as double polished clear vinyl.
Double polished provides the most clarity. We specifically carry double polished clear vinyl because we want to provide crystal clear vinyl for our customers.
There’s so much to consider when looking for clear vinyl fabric for your project.
You first need to understand what you’re using the clear vinyl for. This makes a huge difference, as it will narrow down your options right away.
You should also look at the specifications of clear vinyl to determine if the plasticizer used is safe, what the UV resistance is like, and what the cold crack temperature is.
You also need to determine which vinyl gauge you will need. The higher the gauge, the thicker the vinyl. For heavier duty projects, you’ll need a thicker vinyl, while the thinner vinyl will be more pliable and more affordable.
Lastly, the clarity of your vinyl is important to consider. You’ll want to make sure that you’re getting the clarity you’re looking for. Double polished clear vinyl will be extremely clear, while matte will not be nearly as clear.
Choosing the right clear vinyl can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. This comprehensive guide cuts through the confusion. Find the perfect match for your project, and if questions arise, at MarineVinylFabric.com our experts are always here to help you. Dial us at (312) 300-6737 or just leave a message here.