Oracal’s two most popular vinyls are often confused but they’re used for completely different applications.
In this article I’ll give a complete comparison of Oracal’s best vinyls: 651 vs 631.
I’ll go over both Oracal 631 and 651 and cover in detail the projects each is best suited for. I’ll also cover when you absolutely shouldn’t use them.
If you’re just looking for information at a glance, I’ve put together an easy table showing the differences between the two.
At the end I’ve compiled all of the questions I’ve been sent over the past few months in a quick FAQ.
Let’s get to it.
Oracal 631 vs 651
A brief rundown:
- Oracal 631: is removable, matte, and the best choice for temporary applications.
- Oracal 651: is permanent, glossy, and the best vinyl for outdoor usage.
|Oracal 631||Oracal 651|
|Waterproof||only resistant||fully waterproof|
|Durability||3 years (indoors)||6 years (outdoors)|
|Thickness||3 mil||2.5 mil|
For other uses and vinyls, I have a complete guide to the best vinyls for Cricut and Silhouette.
Alright, let’s break down each in detail.
Oracal 631 is one of the most popular types of vinyl to use with a Cricut or Silhouette cutting machine. It is perfect for making temporary, indoor wall decals.
631 is like the regular Cricut or Silhouette vinyl, but it is more affordable, easier to cut/weed, and lasts longer on your finished product.
(Can you tell I prefer the Oracal?)
I’ll break it down by feature:
Oracal 631 uses a clear, water-based, removable adhesive.
This is perfect for wall decals or temporary signage because you can remove it without damaging your paint or leaving a residue.
Since it is water-based, it is not suited for projects that are cleaned frequently, like dishware or anything exposed to a lot of water.
631 comes in a matte finish. Like the paint on your walls, a matte finish stops unwanted glare and reflections.
Waterproof rating: Resistant
Oracal 631 is water resistant, but not fully waterproof.
It is not recommended for anything that needs to be fully immersed in water to be cleaned, or for surfaces that will be constantly exposed to water.
If you need to clean something with an Oracal 631 design, it’s best to wipe it with a damp cloth.
Durability: 3 years (indoors)
Oracal 631 is rated to last at least 3 years when applied correctly to a vertical surface indoors. But from experience, I can tell you that it will often last much longer than that.
Make sure the surface you are using is completely clean of any dust, grease, or crud that could interfere with the adhesive binding.
631 typically lasts for a year or more outdoors, depending on how severe the weather conditions are.
Oracal 631 is best suited to indoor usage because its adhesive is not strong enough to survive outdoor conditions for more than a year.
It is not fully waterproof nor does it have great UV-resistance. However, it still works fine for short-term outdoor usage, especially in mild weather.
This vinyl is available in 89 matte colors as well as transparent.
Thickness: 3 mil
The thickness of Oracal 631 is 3 mil, or 3 thousandths of an inch. That actually sounds pretty thin to me but it’s 20% thicker than the 651.
Okay, now let’s run through the features of Oracal 651.
Oracal 651 is the other very popular vinyl to use in your Cricut or Silhouette machine.
Known as outdoor vinyl, 651 is more durable than 631, and is often used to make outdoor signs.
I’ll go through all the properties of Oracal 651 here, and then compare it with 631.
Oracal 651 uses a clear, solvent-based, permanent adhesive.
This doesn’t mean it is actually permanent, but to remove it you’ll have to either scrape it off or use an adhesive remover like Goo Gone.
It’s best for purposes where you won’t need to easily remove the vinyl decal.
This vinyl comes in a glossy finish, which is very shiny and reflective.
651 is fully waterproof, making it the ideal choice for anything that needs to be washed or exposed to rain, like coffee mugs and your car. It even works on boats!
Oracal 651 has a strong enough adhesive to survive outdoor weather conditions. It is often called “outdoor vinyl” or “sign vinyl,” as it is the popular choice for outdoor signs. However, 651 still works great for anything you need decorated indoors.
Durability: 6 years
Almost all Oracal 651 colors are rated to last at least 6 years outdoors when properly applied.
The metallic finishes have a life expectancy of 4 years, while the brilliant blue color lasts for at least 3 years.
If you use it indoors, it will last a bit longer.
This vinyl comes in 60 gloss colors, plus transparent, matte white, and matte black.
Thickness: 2.5 mil
The thickness of Oracal 651 is 2.5 mil, or 2 and a half thousandths of an inch. This is around 83% as thick as the Oracal 631.
Applications and Uses
What is Oracal 631 vinyl used for?
Oracal 631 vinyl is used for wall decals, stencils, interior decorations, and temporary signs (<1 year outdoors). You’ll want to use 631 for anything that needs to be removed easily, without damaging the surface.
It also works great for any general purpose decorating, and long-term signs that will be staying inside and out of the rain.
What is Oracal 651 vinyl used for?
Oracal 651 vinyl is great for indoor or outdoor signs, car decals, and dishware like mugs, glasses, cutting boards, and plates.
If you’re decorating tumblers, like yeti cups, you want to use Oracal 651.
If you ever have trouble getting the 631 to stick try switching to the 651. The glue in the 651 vinyl is stronger, so it works better for surfaces that aren’t perfectly smooth and flat, like unfinished wood.
Is Oracal 651 microwave safe? Can I use it on a coffee mug?
Yep! I’ve used 651 on tons of mugs, and they microwave without issue. Just make sure you let it cure (sit) for a few days before you put it in the microwave. But don’t put anything with a metallic finish in the microwave! Metallic vinyl in the microwave will create sparks, cause the vinyl to peel off, and is a fire hazard.
Is Oracal 651 dishwasher safe?
Not necessarily. Washing anything with vinyl in the dishwasher is risky business. It really depends on the specifics of your dishwasher and how well the vinyl was applied. I have a few mugs with 651 decals that I always toss in the top-shelf of the dishwasher, and they’re still going strong after years.
Intricate or delicate designs, like a narrow glass container, are more likely to fall apart. I definitely recommend gentle hand washing to increase the longevity of your finished work. And remember to let it cure (sit) for a few days before you wash it.
How can I tell Oracal 631 apart from Oracal 651?
Easiest way is to look at the finish! Oracal 631 has a matte finish, while Oracal 651 has a glossy finish.
What is Oracal outdoor vinyl?
That’s the Oracal 651! Rated to last 6 years outdoors.
What’s the best vinyl to use for the Cricut Maker?
Same recommendations as above! I go into great detail about the Cricut Maker and whether or not it’s worth buying in an article I just published in May 2018.