I could really go on for many pages about what the best vinyl is for each application but I don’t want to bore you so I will try and keep this as short as possible.
There are basically only two types of vinyl. Sign making vinyl and heat transfer vinyl. Within these two types I suppose you have some subcategories as well. Basically you have your heat transfer vinyl that is for fabric, often used for making aparal. Then you have sign vinyl for everything else.
I am going to focus more on sign vinyl for this post. First off all vinyl can be used indoors and outdoors. If you ever hear of something being called “indoor” or “outdoor” vinyl this is only a classification of the environment that it is best suited for.
Oracal 631 is often referred to as “Indoor” vinyl. This is the best environment for Oracal 631, but you can have great success with it outdoors as well. The characteristics of 631 make it a short term outdoor performer. It is a common misconception that this vinyl will be destroyed if it gets wet. This just is not true. It does have a water-based adhesive and potentially could be damaged by water, but it is typically only a harsh type of water like high pressure or hot that will damage it. I have seen Oracal 631 hold up just fine outdoors for several years.
So on the flip side of course “outdoor” vinyl like Oracal 651 is well suited for outdoor use it can be used inside as well. It does have a solvent based permanent adhesive which is part of what makes it so great for outdoor use. But it can still be used indoors. It’s kind of like saying an automobile is for outdoor use so you can’t park it in the garage. Any vinyl will last almost indefinitely in a typical indoor application. The downside is that the more aggressive adhesive potentially could cause a bit of damage when removed. Just warm things up with a hairdryer and this is likely not a problem.
Now one last thing I want to touch on is decorating dishes. This is a very popular trend. It can be done but a few words of caution. This is not a purpose that vinyl was intended for. Of course the vinyls like Oracal 651, 751, and 951 are the best choices to use for such a project. They work best because of the more aggressive adhesive. However vinyl was not designed to go in the dishwasher. This is quite a harsh environment. The best way to remove unwanted vinyl is with heat. The dishwasher is hot. So if you really want to decorate some dishes it is probably best to stay away from the “indoor” vinyl. And you want to generally consider it just that a decoration. If you need to wash it, hand wash it. This way it will last a long time. My experience is that the best case scenario you will get about 5 trips through a dishwasher.