Mesh count is one of the first things that screen printers must understand. Various mesh counts are utilized for different applications in the screen printing process. Mesh count for screen printing are not just sold in different sizes. They’re also sold in different types, which you can think of, like the screen’s resolution. Since screens are just woven nylon threads, mesh counts tell how many threads you’ll find in a given area.

This blog will help you learn all basic information about mesh counts, including what mesh count is, mesh counts different types, and how to pick the right mesh count for your screen printing project.

What is Mesh Count Mean for Screen Printing

What is the mesh count for screen printing? The mesh count measures the number of polyester threads (which was once silk, hence the name “silk screening”) that cross each other per square inch of the screen. A 110 mesh screen, for example, has 110 threads spanning each other per square inch. As a result, the screen’s holes get smaller as the mesh count increases.

While screen printing, the mesh screen holds the image in place

Typically, rayon, nylon, or stainless steel are used to make it. To make a fabric without holes, the mesh’s strands are woven together. Different thread widths (or diameters) of mesh are available; these are denoted by a number or letter. The quantity of threads in a square inch of fabric is referred to as the mesh count

Mesh count for screen printing controls the quality you will achieve in your design. Screen mesh with high counts has many small holes. Therefore, high-count screens are used to create a very detailed and precise image. Meanwhile, screen mesh with a lower thread count has fewer holes, which are more extensive. These screen meshes are used to create images with fewer details.

What are Screen Mesh Diameters

The diameter is the thread size of the threads that make up the screen mesh. Mesh diameter is expressed in microns (µm)a minimal measurement.

Thread size is noteworthy because it will affect the quantity of ink passing through the screen. A larger thread diameter will allow more ink to pass through, while a smaller thread diameter will enable less ink to pass through the screen mesh. Thus, Mesh diameter can help determine how much ink will pass through a screen.

The choice of thread size is also important because it will decide the overall quality of the print. Smaller thread diameters will produce a higher-quality print, while larger thread diameters will produce a lower-quality print. Therefore, understanding the mesh diameter is important to producing a lasting print.

What are Different Sizes of Screen Mesh Count

You see that different companies have different sizes of screen mesh count available. If the mesh count is relatively close, such as the variation between 155 and 156, 196 and 200, or 81 and 86, it is negligible and won’t affect your final results. Since there are many variables of mesh counts, we have listed them below to make you better understand.

– Standard Screen Mesh Sizes.

– Low Screen Mesh Counts.

– High Screen Mesh Counts.

Standard Screen Mesh Counts:

110 to 156 Mesh Count

The two most standard screen mesh count sizes are 110 and 156. 110 is a multi-purpose screen mesh count with medium coarseness. This screen mesh count is the ultimate screen mesh for various purposes, allowing for some detailed designs and colors, including white. 110 mesh count screens can print large designs, bold shapes, and text. 156 screen mesh count also has medium coarseness but allows finer detail designs than 110 mesh count screen, and 156 mesh count lays down a moderate amount of ink.

Low Screen Mesh Counts:

38 to 86 Mesh Count

38 to 86 are lower screen mesh counts than 110, and they are most often used for specialty printing. The major use of lower mesh counts is for glitter and shimmer inks because these inks are made special to have flakes of glitter in them to give a shiny look, but these flakes may get caught in the screen mesh if the mesh count is too high. 

Glitter inks have larger, clearer flakes to them, while shimmer inks have smaller particles to give a more subtle look. Therefore, a screen mesh count of 36 is ideal for glitter inks, but you can also go up to 64 mesh count. And for shimmer inks, an 86 mesh count is recommended because this coarse mesh count supplies high opacity and heavy ink deposits. Generally, this mesh count is used to print white ink onto dark fabric.

High Screen Mesh Counts:

230 to 305 Mesh Count

The most popular screen mesh sizes for finer detail graphics and thinner inks are 200 screen mesh count and above. The use of screens with this mesh size is recommended for printing with graphics, discharge, and water-based inks because mesh count prevents the thinner inks from flooding onto your substrate. These larger mesh counts can also be helpful if you’d want your plastisol prints to have a softer hand feel.

A thinner “plate” of ink is made possible by printing the thicker ink via the smaller mesh since significantly less is placed down. As a result, the print has a softer feel. A higher screen mesh count may make your plastisol prints feel softer, but you risk losing the ink’s opacity. And 305 screen mesh count is at the very top of the scale.

This size is used for works requiring the highest level of detail, as well as for exquisite halftone four-color and simulated process prints. Very high mesh counts are required for fine halftone dots to hold and expose sufficiently. If not, as previously said, the halftones and lines will just fall through the mesh and will give you a negative visual to work with.

How to Choose the Right Mesh Count for Screen Printing

To select which mesh count you need to have, you should consider the details of the print. One of the most critical parts of successful screen printing is understanding how the mesh count is relatable to print quality. Screens come in a vast range of mesh options. Yet, it’s your duty to understand which screen mesh count works with each garment, each image, and each ink.

To wisely choose your mesh count for screen printing, consider the following options:

Type of Ink:

The number of mesh counts must be chosen depending on the type of ink. For example, if you’re using thicker inks (specifically inks that contain additives like glitter), you’ll have to use a lower mesh count because this allows more area among the threads on the screen so that ink can pass over the screen easily. 

However, because of this restriction with thick ink, you must also consider that your images should be more straightforward. And while using extremely thin inks (like discharge inks or water-based inks), you will have to use a higher mesh count. The thinner threads and smaller gaps will allow less ink through.

Type of Substrate:

The selection of your mesh count will also depend on the type of substrate because different substrates require different mesh counts. For example, Knitted materials are arranged in a grid on both the material you are printing on and the screen you are using to print with. In contrast to the tightly woven threads of the t-shirt you are printing on, your screen may be able to hold a lot of detail. 

Thus, just like you, your t-shirt has a “resolution” that it can keep. Besides this, you also have to consider if the material is right for the ink you want to use. Also, make sure that your ink, substrate, and image are all aligned with your mesh count.

Image Detail:

Image detail matters the most in selecting the right mesh count for screen printing. As the detail of your image goes up, so does your mesh count. You don’t need to use a high mesh count for a simple design like a one-color logo or large text. But you must need the highest mesh count for a complicated and detailed image.


Hopefully, you successfully got the answers to all questions that popped up in your mind related to mesh count for screen printing. Through experience and experimentation with using different screen mesh densities, you will learn which screens give you the desired results when dealing with different projects.