Cricut mats

Cricut Mats Guide – Which Cricut Mat Should I Use?

I felt so confused when I first got my Cricut.

I feel overwhelmed with all of the differences between Cricut Mats, what materials you should use with each one of them, and how to clean and care for them, you are in the right place.

The purpose of this article is to help you avoid the same doubts I had about the Cricut Mats and provide you with the right knowledge about them. If you read this article, you will be a PRO!

cricut mats on cricut air explore

Today we are going to tackle one of the most frequently asked Cricut questions, let’s learn what a Cricut Mat is and which ones are available.

Cricut makes 4 different mats to use with their Explore Air machines: Cricut® LightGrip Cutting Mat, Cricut® StandardGrip Cutting Mat, Cricut® StrongGrip Cutting Mat, and the Cricut® FabricGrip Cutting Mat.

Each of these mats is used to cut many different types of materials (from lightweight materials like printer paper and washi tape sheets to heavyweight materials like faux leather and corrugated cardboard). If you don’t use the correct mat for your project, you risk running your materials and then have a tough time removing them from the mat.

What do you need Cricut Mats?

Many people wonder if mats are needed for all our DIY projects.

Well, the answer is yes, you will always need to use a mat for each project. This is because every material you cut needs to be stable and solid on the surface; otherwise it will move, which is the source of the disaster.

Before I got the Cricut Mat, I have never understood why there are different colors of mats, if you don’t know what Mat does like me, this is a interesting thing for you to know.

4 different cricut mats
  • StrongGrip Mat (Purple): Provide a strong adhesive surface perfect for securing heavyweight materials. such as thick cardstock, specialty cardstock, magnet material, chipboard etc
  • LightGrip Mat (Blue): It is specially formulated for lightweight materials, such as office paper, pearl paper, printer paper, vellum, vinyl, washi sheets etc.
  • StandardGrip Mat (Green): Perfect for a wide range of medium-weight materials, such as cardstock, printable iron-on, pearl paper, vellum, printer paper, window cling, printable fabric etc.
  • Fabric Mat (Pink): Made from higher-quality, higher-density PVC to withstand the increased pressure of the Rotary Blade

You have the option of either purchasing the 12 x 12″ Cricut Mat or the larger 12×24″ Cricut Mat. Both of these sized mats work in all the Air Explore Machines as well as the Cricut Maker machine. So sizing is truly dependent on the size of the projects that you will be working on.

Here is a quick explanation of the mats, their grip and the material you should be using with them:

StrongGrip Mat (Purple)

The StrongGrip mat is brilliant for heavyweight materials. 

You need the strong sticky grip in order to keep the thicker material as the machines have to apply more pressure to cut through these materials.

  • Glitter cardstock
  • Specialty cardstock
  • Magnet material
  • Chipboard
  • Poster board

LightGrip Mat (Blue)

The blue LightGrip Cutting Mat has just enough sticky grip to hold material firmly in place during cutting, yet it allows for easy removal of the lighter weight material when you are finished cutting.

  • office paper
  • cardstock
  • light cardstock
  • construction paper
  • printable iron-on

StandardGrip Mat (Green)

StandardGrip Cutting mat is perfect for cutting medium-weight materials, and it also has the perfect amount of grip that makes for easy removal of your material.

  • Vinyl
  • Pearl Paper
  • Vellum
  • Printer Paper

Fabric Mat (Pink)

The pink FabricGrip mat has specially been created to allow those with a Cricut Maker to cut through even the thinnest of materials without the need for fabric stabilizer, just on its own with the Rotary blade and the Cricut Maker.

  • Bonded fabric
  • Any type of fabric with the rotary blade

Where can I buy Cricut Mats?

I am pretty sure that every craft store has them on hand. Plus I am quite busy and going to the store is not an option for me. However, I always buy these products online so I can compare prices.

When I first got my Cricut, I got this pack on amazon because It has all four mats.

It’s always a good idea to check out the Official Cricut website. They have everything and sometimes outstanding deals.

How to care for and clean my Cricut mat?

Taking good care of your mat is very important to ensure that your cuts are always nice and smooth.

We have published such an article in the previous post. Check out the method here.

Special gift to you

This is two new products launched by our LinkedGoVinyl, it suitable for Silhouette Cameo and Cricut Explore One/Air/Air 2/Maker

It has been sold on, and we have received a lot of good reviews from customers.

  • LinkedGo cameo cutting mat 12×12 inch work perfectly in Silhouette Cameo 4/3/2/1 and Cricut Explore One/Air/Air 2/Maker
  • LinkedGo cutting mat square gridded area size: 12 x 12 Inch, minimum accuracy: 0.25 x 0.25 Inch contain exact grid lines, which will greatly help the cutting process.
  • 12×12 inch cutting mat is a multi-purpose mat that is perfect for a wide range of huge size materials.
  • LinkedGo cutting mats are 3 PCS in pack. Our replacement cutting mats are made of PET which is durable and environmental-friendly.
  • Keep the clear film cover on the cutting mat when storing to keep cutting mat stickiness free from scraps and dust.

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Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3 Should I Buy

When you buy the first cutting machine (exciting!), do you want to know which one of the silhouette and Cricut is right for you? You can find the right place here.

I’ll break down everything about the Cricut Explore Air 2 , including how it differs from the Silhouette Cameo 3 model.

What is it exactly that makes this craft cutting a crowd favorite?

Let’s explore.

Cricut Explore Air 2
Cricut Explore Air 2

About the Cricut Explore Air 2

The Cricut Explore Air 2 was released in late 2016, it is a great machine for most people. It’s a good value and 2x fast mode to cut at twice the speed of the previous model. I think it’s the best-designed cutter on the market: it looks stunning and is a pleasure to use.

If you want to go straight to the best deals and bundles, give that a click to head down to the bottom of this review where I’ve collected those for you.

Key features of the Cricut Explore Air 2

The Cricut Explore Air 2 comes with the standard Fine-Point Blade, and it’s compatible with the Deep Point Blade and the Bonded Fabric Blade (sold separately). With these tools, you can cut over a hundred different types of material including:

  • vinyl
  • paper
  • foam sheets
  • chipboard
  • bonded fabrics
  • paper and vinyl, foam sheets and chipboard, to bonded fabric.

Here are three important features of the Cricut Explore Air 2:

2x fast mode. It has one major upgrade, which lets you cut thin materials like vinyl, paper, and cardstock at twice the speed. This is really helpful for people who make multiple copies of their projects (like teachers) or people who make things to sell who will appreciate the amount of time they save.

Built-in bluetooth capabilities. You can cut wirelessly and a double tool holder so you can cut and write all in a single pass. And like the Explore Air, the second clamp is compatible with accessories like the Scoring Stylus, Cricut Pens, etc. so there’s no need to purchase an additional adapter.

Cricut Explore Air 2
Smart Set Dial

Smart Set Dial. You can easily choose the material you’ll be cutting, and the Cricut will automatically select the appropriate cutting depth and speed. This takes a lot of the frustration and guesswork out of picking the cut settings and will end up saving you significant time and material.


It’s a gorgeous machine with useful features to make your cutting projects a success. Personally I don’t actually use Fast Mode all that often, but it can definitely save you time if you do a lot of cardstock, vinyl, and iron-on projects!

About the Silhouette Cameo 3

Cricut Explore Air 2

The Silhouette CAMEO® 3 was released in August 2016. The Cameo 3 represents the newest model from Silhouette’s best-selling Cameo line. At first review, it sits on the desk like a gorgeous, sleek printer. But instead of printing ink onto a page, the Cameo 3 can cut and draw on over 100 different types of material.

I’ll run through the newest features of this machine and the important pros and cons, and then I break down all of the Silhouette Cameo 3’s features in an easy-to-read format, so you can determine if it is the right cutting machine for you.

New machine design

If you’ve used the Cameo 2 before, you’ll notice that the biggest change with the Cameo 3 is that it’s, well, bigger! The Cameo 3 is longer, wider, and weighs more than the Cameo 2. it keep a clean and streamlined design, and it has an incredibly sleek look that looks fabulous sitting in your crafting area.

I think overall the Cameo 3 is definitely a more attractive model than the previous Cameo.

Features of Your Silhouette Cameo 3

(A) Storage

The Cameo 3 has multiple storage compartments. With your lid open, there are places to keep extra blades on the left. On the top rack, you can keep blades, tools, or pens, and the pull-out drawer at the bottom opens for more storage.

Cricut Explore Air 2
Improved storage

There is also a long, narrow tray above the dual carriage that is great for holding up to 12 sketch pens. (Really they all fit!)

(B) LCD Touchscreen

Cricut Explore Air 2

With the touch screen, you can load your media and access your machine settings. The Cameo 3 is our first machine to feature sounds to help you navigate through the screens. The touchscreen now features a series of easily-accessible tutorials that help with those who are new to the Silhouette family, or to cutting machines in general.

(C) Adjustable Rollers

Silhouette Cameo 3
Adjustable Rollers

The Cameo 3 is the first Silhouette featuring new adjustable rollers. The spring rollers have been designed for a strong yet gentle way to hold project materials in place, it much easier adjustment mechanism, just twist and slide.

Now that I’ve gone over how the new Cameo looks and feels, let’s move on to how she cuts!

(D) Cameo 3 Cutting

If you are using a long piece of media, the crosscutter can be very helpful. It is basically a paper-cutter on the back of your machine. The crosscutter lets you separate your finished cut job from the remaining media in one quick stroke. With the crosscutter track attached directly to the back, you will get a perfectly straight edge every time. Then, when you use the remaining media for a different project, your Cameo will load the nice, even edge very easily. If you use rolls of vinyl, the crosscutter will be very helpful.

Cricut Explore Air 2

The Cameo is able to cut long materials because you don’t have to stick your material to a cutting mat to run it through the machine. This Silhouette can do matless cutting on lined media (like regular adhesive backed vinyl).

(E) Built-in Bluetooth

The Cameo 3 is the first Silhouette machine with Bluetooth capabilities, all other Cameo editions, Bluetooth® is enabled, but you will need to install a Bluetooth® adapter.

Cricut Explore Air 2

Bluetooth lets you connect wirelessly to your computer, iPad, iPhone, or Android device. With 100 foot range, you can set up your Silhouette anywhere you want, without being tethered to your computer. Use Bluetooth® to get some of those pesky cords out of the way!

(F) Dual Carriage

Cameo 3 features a dual carriage. Are you like us and are a little bit EXCITED about the project possibilities? The tools are marked with little red circle on the left and a blue circle on the right. Insert your tools (such as an AutoBlade and a sketch pen) into the corresponding tool holders assigned in your Send panel. Watch two different tools work in one cut job!

Silhouette Cameo 3
Dual Carriage

The tools compatible with the its dual carriage are:

  • AutoBlade. Automatically adjusts cut settings.
  • Standard Blade. AKA the ratchet blade.
  • Fabric Blade. Same as the standard blade, but in a different color to distinguish it for fabric-use only.
  • Premium Blade. Lasts 3x as long as the standard blade.
  • Deep-Cut Blade. Cuts materials up to 2mm thick.
  • Sketch Pens. 24 colors now come with now with 2x the ink.
  • Pen holder. Can hold 3 different sizes of pens and markers.


The Silhouette Cameo 3 is a solid machine, a great value, and the best Silhouette machine you can get today.
Unfortunately, Silhouette still has not improved on the mediocre cutting power of the Cameo series, so it can’t easily handle dense or tough materials.
If you want to cut long materials, the Silhouette Cameo 3 is a great choice.


  • Silhouette Cameo 3 machine.
  • 12″ cutting mat. This is how material is usually loaded into the Silhouette. Its price is very expensive, about one dollar is about 10 dollars, we recommend customers to use LinkedGo Cutting Mat, the same low price
  • AutoBlade. Automatically adjusts to the cut settings you choose in Silhouette Studio.
  • Crosscutter. A very useful tool for cutting rolls of vinyl.
  • Power and USB cables.
  • 1-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.
Silhouette Cameo 3
Iron on vinyl


Iron on vinyl sometimes called heat-transfer vinyl or HTV. 

Iron on vinyl is a special type of vinyl material with a heat-sensitive adhesive, it is a product that is applied to t-shirts and other substrates by heat. You will have had many t-shirts and other garments with HTV on it! Therefore, the heat transfer can be done using a heat press machine, a home iron, or the recently released Cricut EasyPress.


It comes in sheets or rolls, and has two parts to it. There is the vinyl and the carrier sheet. They are both joined together and come apart during the heat transfer.

There are different types of iron on vinyl, including:

  • flocked HTV
  • foil HTV
  • patterned HTV (my favorite!)

In conclusion, perhaps the most well known brand of heat transfer vinyl is Siser EasyWeed. I have to confess that this is my favorite brand, just because it is so easy to use, and it looks and feels great.

What Can You Press Iron On Vinyl Onto?

HTV vinyl is most commonly used for t shirts and other clothing. I use it all the time on baby onesies. However, you can press it onto a ton of other surfaces – some of the following I haven’t even tried myself yet!

Iron on vinyl

You can press HTV onto:

  • T-shirts
  • Sweatpants
  • Baby onesies
  • Sweatshirts
  • Hats and caps
  • Shoes
  • Wooden farmhouse signs
  • Swimsuits
  • Placemats
  • Teatowels
  • Baby and children’s clothes
  • Canvas tote bags
  • Stretched canvas (a reverse canvas project, for example)
  • Drink coolies
  • And much more!


Here’s what you need in order to make your own T-shirts:

  • Cricut machine (I used the Cricut explore air 2 for this tutorial but any Cricut machine will work!)
  • StandardGrip mat
  • weeding tool
  • Cricut EasyPress 2 (or a household iron)
  • EasyPress mat (or a super fluffy towel, folded up)
Cricut Explore Air 2

Design your project in Cricut Design Space. For instance, Place the iron-on vinyl onto a StandardGrip cutting mat LINER side down. Load the mat into the Cricut machine. Send your image to the machine from Cricut Design Space. Make sure to MIRROR the design. Set the cutting dial on the machine to “Iron-on” For more information on adhering the iron-on vinyl, see my post on “ How to Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl on a Cricut

Heat Transfer Vinyl

How to Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl on a Cricut

Here are step by step instructions on how to use Heat transfer vinyl (iron-on vinyl) it to make custom t-shirts, tote bags, onesies, and more! Learn tips and tricks for getting your Heat transfer vinyl to adhere—updated in 2019 to include iron, EasyPress, and heat press methods.

Heat Transfer Vinyl
Heat Transfer Vinyl

Let’s talk about how to use Heat transfer vinyl . We’re going to cover what Heat transfer vinyl is, how to cut and weed it, and how to adhere it to a base material (in this case, a baby bodysuit) using three methods—an iron, the Cricut EasyPress, and a heat press. Everything you need to know in one handy place.

How To Use Heat Transfer Vinyl With A Cricut Machine