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Silhouette Cameo versus Cricut Explore – Which One is Best?

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***This post has recently been updated to reflect the newest machines, Silhouette Cameo 3 and Cricut Maker. Read it at this link.***

I get asked a lot about which machine I like better – my Silhouette Cameo or Cricut Explore Air. As a user and fan of both machines, I’m happy to share my experiences with both. I have no connection to either company – and neither company asked me to write this post.

Pros and Cons of the Silhouette Cameo


  • You can cut without a mat and you can cut up to 10 feet long (12 inches wide). I create a lot of stencils to use with wood signs that I make to decorate my home and it is easier to cut long stencils than to have to piece together smaller stencils. If you do attempt to cut longer pieces, I highly recommend that you purchase a roll feeder.
  • You can cut without a mat. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point, but you can cut certain materials without a mat (like vinyl). I find this a money saver, because I don’t have to keep buying mats.
  • Silhouette’s software program is robust. Even after using it for several years, I still find myself learning new tricks.


  • Silhouette Studio has a huge learning curve. There are tons of tutorials online, written by fellow bloggers to help you out along the way.
  • Silhouette requires you to purchase add ons to enhance the features of Silhouette Studio (Designer Edition, Business Edition, etc). I feel like I purchased the expensive machine already, just give me the best possible software!
  • The Silhouette blades do not last as long as the Cricut blades. I usually use a CB09 blade in my Cameo, but this does void your warranty.
  • It’s LOUD. In fact, it’s much louder than a Cricut.

Pros and Cons of the Cricut Explore Air


  • The Cricut cuts better than the Silhouette. I think this has to do with the way that the blade rotates in the machine. For this reason, I use my Cricut for all of my paper cuts.
  • The Cricut already takes a CB09 style blade which lasts way longer than the Silhouette blade.
  • You select cutting settings on the top of the machine, no need to remove the blade to change a setting. Some people have found that the presets don’t work as well as they should, but I’ve never had an issue.
  • Has the ability to cut wirelessly. This means that I can take my computer away from the machine when it is doing intricate cuts because it doesn’t have to stay connected.
  • The Cricut can cut thicker materials – like balsa wood – and handles leather, glitter paper and more with ease. If you are looking for more information about this, Cricut had an independent lab do two studies on the Cricut versus the Cameo. This link gives you the reports for materials and precision tests.
  • If you’ve previously used a Cricut and have designs on cartridges, you can use them with your Cricut Explore – but they are not necessary.
  • Dual cartridge is standard. Like the Silhouette Curio, the Cricut has two cartridge holders. This is time saving for sketching and cutting without reloading.


  • The software, Design Space, requires an internet connection to use. This means that if you have a slow internet connection, Cricut is not for you. Design Space has been known to crash, freeze, and lag. Basically, if Cricut is having an issue with their site, you will have issues with Design Space.
  • Design Space is a simplified software program. This is a pro and a con. If you plan to cut predesigned files, this is great for you. If you want more freedom in the software, you may find it limiting.
  • The Print and Cut area is much smaller than the Silhouette. (For novice users, print and cut means printing something on your home printer and having the machine cut it out.)
  • The machine itself is bigger and heavier than my Silhouette.

So, which machine is right for you? It’s completely a personal preference, but this is my opinion:

Plan to cut vinyl? I’d recommend a Silhouette Cameo.
Plan to create lots of custom designs? I’d recommend a Silhouette Cameo.
Are you tech savvy and interested in learning the ins and outs of software? I’d recommend a Silhouette Cameo.
Live in a rural area or have slower or limited internet? I’d recommend a Silhouette Cameo.

Plan to cut paper? I’d recommend a Cricut Explore Air.
Looking to cut thicker, denser materials or a wider variety of materials? I’d recommend a Cricut Explore Air.
Plan to cut premade or predesigned projects instead of designing them yourself? I’d recommend a Cricut Explore Air.

What are your thoughts? If you have used both machines, leave a comment with your observations.

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Silhouette Cameo versus Cricut Explore - Which One is Best for You? by


Monday 11th of September 2017

Hi. I know this is an older post but looking for some advice. I really just want to print and kiss cut downloads from Etsy (both on sticker paper and as cardstock due cuts). I have a Cricut that went back into the box after a few frustrating hours of trying to use it, and it's sitting in a closet. I've been thinking of getting the new Cameo, but based on what I want, would you recommend that I just put the time into learning it? I will never be creating my own designs, but want to make sure I can use the PNG files I've bought on Etsy. Thank you!


Sunday 17th of September 2017

Hi Lynn! All cutting machines will kiss cut sticker and create die cuts. If you already have one, I'd focus first on just learning to use it - no need to purchase another machine.

Lynn Welch

Thursday 29th of June 2017

Thank you so much, Christine, for sharing all the information that you do. It helps alot.


Tuesday 4th of July 2017

My pleasure, Lynn!


Friday 26th of May 2017

Is there any sort of add on tool/blade that will allow the Silhouette Cameo 3 to cut thicker material? For the person that I was intending to gift to, I LOVE that the Cricut can cut thicker leather and some woods. Unfortunately, their current desktop does not adhere to the Cricut system requirements so I guess I'm leaning towards the Silhouette now although, I'm afraid I'll be disappointed as I've seen reviews on it not cutting as well as Cricut.


Monday 29th of May 2017

Have you looked into the Deep Cut blade? Link:

Amberly Emery

Saturday 29th of April 2017

Hi! I'm hoping to choose a machine that will cut fabric shapes for appliques used in quilting. The fabrics will be lighter weight cottons, but I haven't yet been able to find any reviews on either machine for that purpose. Do you have any experience with this?


Sunday 30th of April 2017

Yes, you can cut fabric with either machine. You'll need to reinforce the fabric with Heat n Bond ( or Terial Magic ( to cut it. I'd really suggest you look at Terri Johnson Creates for fabric related tutorials - she's the guru of this!


Thursday 20th of April 2017

hello, I see that this is a bit of an older article, but hoping you might help me decide. I currently have the old cricut personal, which I've been happy with, but lacks a lot of the newer features, mainly for me reverse cut. I was considering just upgrading to a newer cricut, but then thought perhaps I should try something different for more versatility. I used to have a wishblade, which I loved, and I think was probably along the lines of the silhouette, but I also know I didn't come close to using the capabilities with that. I don't really like the online design aspect of cricut, I have lots of problems with cricut craft room, so worry that design space will be similar, but I also already know cricut & already have $ invested in supplies and cartriages, for silhouette, I feel like I might like it better but worry it will be harder to use, or I just won't use all the features. Mainly I like to cut HTV and paper. I do pretty simple projects. I want to be able to cut any font from my computer & will probably be more likely to buy designs rather than make my own. I'm also curious about free designs for silhouette as a friend has told me that cricut puts their designs for free often on their website.


Monday 24th of April 2017

Hello! Both the Silhouette and the Cricut Explore have a learning curve, but both are similar. Silhouette offers free designs weekly, as do many bloggers.