Blog- What Affects The Cost Of Your Screen Printed Shirts?


What affects the cost of your screen printed shirts?

Let’s review some factors that will affect your final shirt cost (and turn around time) and hopefully help you save money (or at least understand the charges better ) on your next order.


    1. The color of the shirt you are buying
            • A light colored shirt or white shirt is cheaper than a dark colored shirt. It not only cost slightly less, but light colored shirts do not require an additional under base. Typically, white shirts are going to be .15-.20 cents cheaper than a colored shirt such as black, red, royal.
    1. Number of colors in your design
            • The more ink colors in your design the higher the price is going to be. Each color in your design has to be separated and then a separate screen has to be prepared. Think about a rainbow for instance, if you print red, blue, green, yellow, purple you will have to prepare five screens. If you just want to print CEDARSTREAM across the front of your shirt in white ink that is only going to be one screen. The five color print not only takes our graphic designers longer, but it takes our screen preparer longer, as well as the set up time on the press, and clean up afterwards. I don’t want to bore you with all the details, but you get the idea.

The Type of Shirt You Buy

    1. In our business I would say hands down most people want the “cheapest shirt” out there which falls into the basic 100% Cotton shirt category. That doesn’t always equate to bad quality, but there is a difference form one ‘blend’ to the next. You can see my previous blog about the different shirt styles I recommend so I won’t go into a ton of details, but a 100% Cotton shirt will vary quite a bit in cost compared to a Triblend shirt. Other factors to consider are pockets on the shirts (which will drive up the price), pigment dyed shirts, and dry fit material. All of these different styles of shirts are going to come with different price tags.

How Many Shirts You Purchase

    1. Another factor (which I consider to be one of the top factors) is the number of shirts you purchase. Our minimum order for screen print is typically 24 pieces. We do make some exceptions to this rule and we also offer vinyl services, and in the near future direct to garment for single pieces. However, just in regards to screen print the quantity you purchase is key. So why does the quantity matter? There’s a few factors to this: 1) The set up time is expense is the same for 24 shirts as it is for 1,000 shirts. So if you spread that total cost out between 1,000 shirts you’re obviously going to have less expense there. In some instances (on very large orders) we can even get a price break from our vendor when buying in bulk.  

 Design Placement

    1. Typically, we are printing in these standard print locations: Left Chest, Full Front, Full Back, Collar Print, Sleeve Print. Each location is an additional charge and additional screens. A full front print is going to cost less than a left chest and full back print. We not only have to handle your shirts twice at the press, but we have to create additional screens as well.
    2. There are some specialty print locations we print such as the side of the shirt, or the bottom near the same. Our screen printing equipment cannot print over seams without jeopardizing print quality.

Type of Inks Used

    1. Specialty Inks like shimmers or metallics will increase the cost of your shirts. Some inks that are requested are not actually inks at all (example: Glitter Flakes or 3M Reflective Tape are going to be a vinyl application not screen print).



    1. While we typically do not charge art fees (unless your art design is quite complex) I want to touch on factors that play a role in your overall price as well as turn around time.
        1. I found an awesome image on google/pinterest/etc that I want printed on my shirt.” (This includes pictures of business cards too!)
                  • While we love you sending us your ideas keep in mind that art is almost always low resolution and has to be completely re built from scratch in order to print at the quality you have come to expect from Cedarstream. Typically we are sent images that print out very small and when we re size those to fit the back of your t-shirt at 12”x12” the image becomes completely grainy and will not print with any kind of decent quality. Our wonderful graphics department makes your low resolution image turn into a masterpiece. It’s truly amazing what they can do with poor images- and luckily for you guys we don’t charge for that 99% of the time! (This is where the additional time comes in for getting your order ready to print).
        1. “I hired a graphic designer who has all of my art files print ready”.
                  • This is usually music to our ears. It doesn’t mean that your graphic designer knows how the screen printing process works or that your art is indeed ‘print ready’. While graphic designers are great at a whole lot of things, they may not be the best people to produce the design for your shirt unless they know how screen printing works. Note, printing on apparels is not the same printing on brochures, flyers and business cards, and thus the designs to be placed on these two lines of printing will be varied. I point this out because sometimes graphic designers do not understand why we have to manipulate the files they provide us. However, having a graphic designer do the leg work up front is a great start for us and will definitely help get your order printed quicker. Also, if you can provide camera ready art (or very close to it) we can take that into consideration when pricing your job.

I hope this helps shed some light on the printing process and maybe helps save you some money in the future!


About the Author Jenny B

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