Do I Need PVC, Polyolefin, or Polyethylene Shrink Film? [Infographic]

Learn Which Shrink Film Is Right for the Job

With any project, you need the right tools for the job. With shrink wrap, you need the right shrink film for what you’re trying to accomplish. There are three main types of plastic that are used as shrink wrap material: PVC, polyolefin, and polyethylene. So, which one is the right fit for your project?

Let’s explore the differences between PVC, polyolefin, and polyethylene for shrink wrap.


This was once the most commonly used shrink film. It has applications in packaging for CDs/DVDs, boxes for software and video games, and other non-edible objects.

PVC is more tear-resistant than polyolefin, but sensitive to temperature changes. Cold makes it brittle and heat makes it wrinkle. This makes it less useful for preserving items that may face those conditions.

It also releases harmful fumes during sealing and heating. As a result, using PVC shrink wrap requires ventilation and other precautions during application and disposal.


This shrink film is considered a premium replacement for PVC. It’s often used to bundle consumer products like toys, candies, foods, games, tissue boxes, and other retail items. That’s because it’s great for consumer products, due to its glossy high-clarity appearance, low cost, and versatility. It’s also FDA-approved for contact with food.

Polyolefin shrink wrap is more expensive than PVC, but more puncture-resistant and temperature-resistant. This makes it better for binding multiple items.


This heavier-duty shrink film is used for larger commercial items like beverage multipacks, as well as for industrial applications. Whereas PVC and polyolefin are limited to thicknesses around 100-gauge, polyethylene comes in up to 1200-gauge. This allows it to be used for larger-scale projects like shrink wrap for boats.

Polyethylene shrink wrap is more expensive than PVC or polyolefin, but thicker, tougher, and more stretchable. This is why it’s used in those heavy-duty industrial shrink wrap jobs. However, polyethylene is also harder to shrink out completely and requires more cooling space. It should come as no surprise that the shrink film used for larger industrial-scale projects requires more skill and space to apply.

This is also the only one of these three types of shrink wrap that’s recyclable. So, if you’re trying to be environmentally conscious, this may be an option worth looking into.

Our Shrink Film

So, what kind of shrink film does Unlimited Shrinkwrap use for our projects?

We use 100% virgin resin shrink wrap with maximum UV inhibitors. This high-quality polyethylene shrink wrap is the best-suited to those projects where you need professional help, such as shrink wrapping your boat, car, plane, or other large heavy objects.



Installing thick polyethylene shrink film for a large project isn’t easy, and if it isn’t done right then there can be fire hazards or the seal could be broken. That’s why you want someone experienced to do it for you. For expert application of high-quality shrink film in McHenry, IL and the Chicago area, call Unlimited Shrinkwrap today!