Print Options For Your Custom Tablecloths

Print Options For Your Custom Tablecloths

If you ever needed custom printed tablecloths for an event, you know that there can be big difference in price based on the artwork you want to print.  If you knew more about the print process you might have either changed the artwork or the colors around so you can take advantage of a more economical method.  Here is what you should know to help design a tablecloth to achieve your look and meet your budget.

SCREEN PRINT – Screen printing a tablecloth is perfect for simple prints with few colors and the more you order the lower the unit price so it is perfect for when you are ordering multiples. 

Screen print is generally priced by the number of colors, size of logo and number of times the logo will be printed. If your print has 1, 2 or 3 spot colors it will probably be most cost effective to screen print. Most events and trade shows require just a few tablecloths so make sure you find a printer set up to handle small volumes.  Screen printing generally is not cost effective for designs with over 4 spot colors or designs with photographic type images (4 color process). Digital print would be best in those cases. For screen printed tablecloths you will need to supply your printer with vector artwork (.ai or .eps file). 


  • Most economical for spot color prints especially for high volume prints.         
  • Can be printed on any color fabric.   
  •  Bold print because the ink actually lies on top of the fabric.   
  •  Can mix ink to match your specific pantone color. 



DIGITAL PRINT – If you have a 4 color process image, a photographic type image or an image with lots of colors and fades, digital print is your answer.  Digital print is generally priced per square foot of print. With digital printing you can use either vector files (.ai or .eps ) or high resolution raster art files (jpg or tiff).   Digital printing must be done on white fabric so if you wanted to have a 4 color process logo printed on a blue tablecloth, the blue color would actually have to be printed.  As you can imagine, this can get very expensive because the price is calculated per square foot. 

If you want a 4 color process logo on a color fabric tablecloth you can save money on digitally printing by printing the front panel only.  You can digitally print the front panel and use plain fabric (any color the fabrics come in) for the remaining 3 sides. For example, if you wanted to have a 4 color process print on a red tablecloth, you would have to print your image and the background of red on the front panel.  It is important to keep in mind that you are trying to match the digitally printed red background on the front panel to a dyed red fabric on the remaining 3 sides. It may not be an exact match.  


  •  Most expensive print option. -         
  •  Can use almost any type of artwork (high resolution raster art or vector art)-         
  • Colors are not as bold as in screen print because the fabric absorbs some of the ink.-         
  • Digital print is generally a CMYK mix so the colors are “built” right on the fabric.  For this reason digital prints cannot insure that the colors will match your pantone color exactly. 

APPLIQUE PRINT – Appliqué’s are perfect for when you would like to have a 4 color process logo on a fabric color other than white.  Appliqué’s allow you to have a graphic digitally printed on a small piece of fabric, cut out and then it applied (sewn or with heat activated adhesive) to the tablecloth.  This way you can use any color tablecloth.  


  •  Most cost effective way to print a 4 color process logo. -         
  • Can use almost any type of artwork (high resolution raster art or vector art)-         
  • Colors are not as bold as in screen print because the fabric absorbs some of the ink.-         
  • The appliqué cut will have to be a simple cut.  Generally intricate cut outs will not work. 

Your printer will be able to make a recommendation for the best print method for your tablecloth.  The best way to save time and money is to give them a call before you do the design so your art dept can make the design fit both the look you are trying to achieve and the budget you are working with.   

Written by Mary Dykas, MVP Visuals supplier of custom printed tablecloths, tents, banner blades, pennant strings, carpeting for event, retail and trade show promotions.