4 Screen Printing Mistakes and How To Fix Them

Posted by Jeffrey Gononsky on

Learning the hard way is one way to do it. Or, you can take in the knowledge of others before you and know what’s coming and how to fix it.

4 Screen Printing Mistakes and How To Fix Them

Mistakes can happen while screen printing. Screen printing is both a science and an art, and even a veteran will make a misstep from time to time. The rules to follow change with the tools and equipment used. The several different methods you may employ each have their own constraints that need to be taken into account. Light sensitivity, drying and curing times, images transferred being too light, too dark, clogged silk screens –  you’re going to face these challenges the same as everyone else in this craft.


The artisans that roll with the punches and learn from their mistakes go the furthest in honing their skills. But you don’t have to learn the hard way by trial and error if you first familiarize yourself with the most common mistakes and how to fix them. And this article will go into some of the most common ones, including when using the most popular tools like Fabric screen printing ink (plastisol ink and water-based ink), silk screens, and even when making your own silkscreen stencil.

1. Using The Same Silk Screens For Too Many Jobs

Many beginners in screen printing make the mistake of using the same screen mesh for various jobs, even when they get adventurous enough to try their hand at halftones and high-end printing. Many screen printing supply companies markets standard-sized mesh screens to the beginner-level hobbyist or entrepreneur in the 110 to 125 range. And these will indeed work just fine for several applications, but not all. 


Silkscreens need particular-sized widths for their mesh opening for different types of fabric screen printing ink (for ink in general, but this is using the example of t-shirt printing for convenience). The reason is that certain ink particles may not flow properly through smaller mesh widths, which will clog your silk screens and either degrade them over time or lead to poor print production, or both. The way to avoid paying extra costs, in the long run, is by doing your research beforehand on what your specific application requires. 

2. Using Too Much Fabric Screen Printing Ink 

Whether you use water-based or plastisol ink, there will be a bit of a learning curve in developing the proper technique to apply to the screen. But one of the most common ways people tend to mess this up is by using too much of either. A couple of big spoonfuls should be plenty. Too many dollops, and you create an unruly mess that is difficult to manage. In particular, It’s more common for people to overdo it when using water-based inks. This happens because it will air-dry quicker than they think. To fix it, you must ensure that your silk screens are flooded with cold water between prints, after prints, and maybe even a light mist with a spray bottle during prints.


Another mistake related to this is from misusing your squeegee. There is a balancing act between too much and not enough force applied when going over water-based or plastisol ink with it. Pressing the squeegee too hard will ghost or smear and potentially ruin the image. This one is difficult to correct without discovering the proper force for yourself, but you only need a firm grip on the squeegee and just enough pressure to get the suitable coating. 

3. Choosing Artwork That Is Much Too Detailed

Nobody likes this fact, but there are just some images far too detailed for screen printing. Many people who first get into this craft are even under the impression that others must not have a good enough imagination because their own envisions the richest and most intricate artwork ever printed onto a t-shirt, paper, or wood. Some designs will simply never look perfect – but that doesn’t mean you print something amazing; you just have to get creative and inspired with what is possible.


Creating your own custom silkscreen stencil is the perfect way to build your creativity and skill. At Holden’s Screen Supply Corp., we have many resources available to help you learn almost anything about screen printing and even a detailed DIY guide on creating your own silkscreen stencil. We also have custom pre-burned silk screens that allow you to have an image you send in be applied inside the silk screen frame. Just be sure to select your silkscreen frame size, desired mesh count, screen printing ink type, and the substrate or surface you will be printing on when you check out.

4. Not Using Screen Opener Spray

One major headache you can easily get rid of is clogged screens by the use of screen opener spray. All of your fabric screen printing ink will eventually clump up if you are using water-based ink and flooding it with water as you should. 


We have screen openers for water-based and solvent-based screen printing inks. Our water-based screen opener is a foaming cleaner that will easily open mesh that becomes clogged with dried fabric screen printing ink. Not only does it work fast, but it leaves no film or oily residue, so it can be used to clean ink and dirt from the printing presses, too. 


Our citrus screen opener should be used on the press and instantly unclogs any screen. It also works on almost any type of ink (whether fresh or old, too).

All Your Screen Printing Supplies In One Place

Holden’s Screen Supply has been around for almost a century, and we’ve built up the reputation for keeping all the best and latest screen printing products in stock. Fabric screen printing ink, silk screens, plastisol ink – everything is right here at our online store. We even try to make learning how to use all of our products easier so that you’ll get the most out of your screen printing hobby or business. For all the best equipment and timely information, visit Holden’s Screen Supply.