T-shirts are one of the most popular types of clothing, mainly because they are comfortable and can be worn by everyone. They can be stylish, too, especially if they have printed on them, which is accomplished by one of five basic t-shirt printing methods.

The oldest and most popular T-shirt printing method is screen printing, which is so called because different screens are pressed against the shirt to create its design. These screens are made of mesh that is woven together, on top of which a stencilling board is set. A different screen is required for each colour, which can make the task a bit difficult. Also, different designs need a different set of screens made so this method is usually most effective for printing the same design on different shirts.

In the past, screen printing was done manually with the artist pressing the screen against the shirt one at a time, waiting for the ink to dry in between. Nowadays, though, a special machine is used in order to ensure the accurate placement of the screens.

Direct to garment printing or DTG is another method, which, as the name implies, involves printing the design directly on to the t-shirt. This results in very detailed and lifelike images. However, the disadvantage is that the special printer required is quite expensive, mainly because the technology is still fairly new, and that it is designed for printing on white shirts only.

Like the direct to garment printing, the heat press transfer printing method also works mostly for white and light-coloured shirts but in contrast, uses a regular computer printer, making it ideal for small businesses or those just starting out. The design is printed on a special piece of paper and then a heat press is used to transfer the design on to the shirt. The method is quick but the heat press can be difficult to operate.

Vinyl printing is another method commonly used for printing on t-shirts, especially when it comes to printing letterings. The vinyl cutter cuts out the vinyl according to specific patterns and then the cut-outs are transferred to the shirt using a heat press. This method can be used on brightly coloured shirts, since the vinyl is available in both light and bright colours, and even fluorescent ones, though the lettering has to be all in the same colour for the task to be feasible.

Finally, dye sublimation printing is also another basic t-shirt printing method used, although not as commonly as the others, the reason being that it requires a special ink called a sublimation ink which is very expensive. This ink evaporates when heat is applied, creating a dye which is permanently absorbed by the polyester pores, which also open up due to the heat. As such, this method is also limited only to 100% polyester t-shirts that are white or lightly coloured.