How to Apply Vinyl Decal

Learning how to apply vinyl decals is easy with our steps and instructions. If you’re looking to apply a decal to your glass or plastic surface, you need to know the correct way of doing so.

Decals are often used to decorate rooms, furniture, or cars. You can use large custom window decals for large areas such as a car. If you’re using decals for a room, you can find out how to apply wall decals.

It’s important to know the correct method of applying vinyl decals. If you apply them incorrectly, they could break or result in many bubbles.

In this article, we discuss instructions for applying vinyl decals. We also show you what the wet method is as well as the best way to apply large vinyl decals. 

What This Article Covers:

How to Put on Vinyl Decals

how to apply a vinyl decal

Vinyl decals are used to decorate many different surfaces. These include things such as your window, laptop, car, and other firm surfaces. 

To apply vinyl decals, start by wiping down the surface to get rid of any dust and dirt. Once the surface has been wiped, peel off the backing paper and place the sticker on a dry or wet surface. Once the sticker is in place, peel off the back transfer paper as a finishing touch.

Applying Vinyl Decal Instructions

1: Prep Your Surface

Your surface should be clean, smooth, and free of dust. Begin with wiping down the area before you apply the decal. Make sure the area is dry before continuing.

2: Wash The Surface 

You need to wash the area where the decal will be applied. You can do this by using soap and water. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol) and water. We recommend equal amounts of water to alcohol solution. 

After you’ve cleaned with soap and water, rinse thoroughly with water until no soap is left over. We recommend against using window-cleaning products. These can make your decal cling less effectively.

3: Check that Your Environment Is at the Correct Temperature 

The area you are using should be around 55 °F (13 °C). You can use a room-specific thermometer to check the temperature. 

If the environment is too hot or too cold, the vinyl sticker might not adhere to the surface. We recommend using a cooler area.

Make sure your garage or room isn’t too hot or too cold for long periods. If this is the case, you may need to consider placing your sticker elsewhere.

how to put on vinyl decals

4: Remove Transfer Tape

Your decal is usually covered with a layer of transfer tape. This is attached to the backing of the material. Remove the transfer tape and the decal from the backing.

Slowly peel the tape from the backing. Make sure the decal doesn’t stick to the backing. If it does, ask yourself, why is my vinyl decal not sticking?

Avoid touching or holding the back surface of the vinyl decal, as your fingerprints can make smudges on the sticker. 

5: Press Out Air Bubbles. 

You should know how to apply window decals without bubbles.

To do this, use a flat, bendy item such as a credit card to apply the sticker. Press it in an even line along the surface of the decal. Move your credit card, or the other tool consistently. Make sure to apply an even amount of pressure all the way across. 

6: Heat Curved Vinyl Decals with a Blow Dryer 

Your decal may not stick properly to a curved surface or edge. In this case, you need to know how to put a vinyl decal on a curved surface. You can do this with a hair dryer or a heat gun 

7: Peel Away the Outer Layer of Transfer Tape 

Remove the final layer of the sticker. This layer of transfer tape resembles a strip of opaque masking tape. 

If your vinyl decal starts to come off with the transfer paper, use your credit card or flat tool to press the sticker back onto the surface.

how to apply vinyl decals

Applying Vinyl Decals Wet Method

The wet method of applying vinyl decals can be extremely helpful, especially for large decals.

To use the wet method, begin by cleaning your surface area. Wet the area again using a spray bottle and a solution of about 5% soap and 95% water. Apply the decal while the area is still wet. This prevents it from adhering immediately and gives you time to reposition it if necessary. 

It also allows you to get rid of any bubbles. After a few minutes, the soap water will dry and your sticker will firmly adhere.

How to Apply Vinyl Decal to Plastic

Make sure your plastic is clean before applying vinyl decals. Depending on what you’re using, you can put your plastic in the dishwasher or wipe it down with some rubbing alcohol to ensure it’s free from any dust or oils. This will help your vinyl decals to stick well.

If you’re working with single-layer vinyl decals, you need to have transfer tape.

Place vinyl decals face-down on the transfer tape and use a scraper (or credit card) to press the vinyl into the transfer tape.

Then carefully peel off the backing sheet. Your vinyl decal should easily stick to the transfer tape. 

Carefully align your sticker on your plastic and press it on. You can use your fingertips to burnish it onto the plastic. This way it won’t leave any marks. 

Slowly peel back the transfer tape at a 45° angle or more. Since plastic is smooth, the vinyl decal should stick quite easily. 

Best Way to Apply Large Vinyl Decals

how to put on a vinyl decal

Step 1: Big Tape at Top

Your decal will be attached in the middle of two other sheets. Leave the decal attached to one piece of the wax transfer sheet. Face the decal with the tissue paper transfer sheet toward you.

Tape the decal at the top edge using large masking tape.

Step 2: Cut the Decal into Sections

You can cut the decal into separate pieces. This makes it easier to apply, especially if it’s going onto a curved surface. This allows you to focus on one area at a time.

Step 3: Final Cleaning

Make sure there’s no dirt under the decal as this could cause damage later on.

You can clean the surface by wiping it down with a wet cloth.

Step 4: Spray with Soapy Water

If you spray your surface with soapy water, you can reposition your decal if necessary. It will also be easier to remove any bubbles or wrinkles. After a few minutes, the soap and water will dry.

Step 5: Remove the Heavy Paper

best way to apply vinyl decals

Lift the decal while keeping the masking tape that’s on top, in place. Peel off the paper that’s underneath the decal. This paper was covering the adhesive side of the decal. Keep the decal flat and straight. Also, try not to let it touch the surface yet.

Step 6: Smooth the Sticker

Get one person to hold the decal flat and slightly away from the surface. The other person can smooth it on from top to bottom.

Step 7: Remove the Bubbles

After smoothing it on by hand, use a stiff squeegee to remove the bubbles.

Step 8: Peel off the Cover Paper

You should never pull up on the cover paper. Always pull it off sideways at a sharp angle. Applying vinyl decals in cold weather is difficult because the wind and rain may interfere.

Step 9: Final Squeegeeing

Remove the last of the bubbles with the squeegee. Once this is done, your decal should be perfectly fitted.

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