How To Screen Print Your Own T-Shirts

Off contact is the distance between the bottom of the screen mesh and the top of the garment being printed .The purpose of off contact is to keep your print sharp and crisp. This is accomplished by the screen snapping off the garment and releasing the ink on the garment. The squeegee moves over the screen, pushing the ink as it goes, and the screen drops down and touches the garment. As the squeegee moves the screen snaps off the shirt, releasing a deposit of ink on the shirt.

Besides releasing the deposit of ink on the shirt, off contact keeps the screen from constantly touching the print. Off contact also helps reduce ink build up when printing wet on wet. Too much ink build up can cause blurry prints, so keeping a good off contact distance can help minimize this when printing wet on wet.

Off contact distance is usually 1/6" to 1/8" inch depending on the type of garment you are printing on and the type of ink you are using. Increasing off contact can increase the amount of ink deposited on the shirt. Decreasing and using a smaller off contact distance reduces the amount of ink deposited on the shirt.

Discharge and water base ink usually use 1/6" of an inch for off contact- equal to the thickness of a dime. Off contact for printing plastisol ink is usually 1/8" of an inch- equal to the thickness of a quater. Use a little more than a quarter (two quarters) for printing hoodies and sweatshirts!


Meredith Newsome:


I had visited your store last week, and I saw a very nice T-shirt i wanne buy.
But I have a question, today I wanted to order it, but can not find the t-shirt anymore in your store.
it looks like the first picture on this site
Mail me if you are going to sell it again.
I hope soon so that I can place an order.
I’ll wait.


Mar 15, 2019


Hi, I just want to make a quick correction for in case people are confused about the amount of off-contact…
In the text above, when he says “Off contact distance is usually 1/6” to 1/8" inch depending on…" he actually means 1/16th, not 1/6.

Also, in the text above, he says that the thickness of a dime is 1/16th of an inch, but it’s actually 1/32. And then he says the thickness of a quarter is 1/8th of an inch, but actually the thickness of a quarter is 1/16th.

Sep 14, 2018

Shantiah Davis:

Hi, starting out new! What’s the best screen printer to start with and supplies? TIA!

Jul 26, 2018

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