Why Is My Vinyl Decal Not Sticking?

Many people struggle with getting their vinyl to stick correctly, so we’ve put together this helpful guide that will help you determine why your vinyl decal isn’t sticking, and how you can get it to stick properly.

The starting point is making sure you’re working with good quality vinyl decals. We make our decals with only the best quality materials, ensuring minimal problems for you in the long run.

Sometimes, the issue is the material you’re trying to stick the vinyl to. If you’re applying it to wood, or any other rough surface, you might have some trouble getting the decal to lay flat. 

Below, we go into detail about why your vinyl may not be sticking correctly.

What This Article Covers:

Common Struggles with Adhesive Vinyl

Glass or Metal Surfaces

why are my vinyl decals not sticking

You might have a vinyl decal you want to stick to a mirror or stainless steel tumbler, but it won’t stick when you remove the transfer tape. Or worse: your custom window decal only partially sticks. We’ll take you through problems you might face when applying window decals to glass.

The problem is likely that the surface of the material you’re trying to stick the decal to isn’t clean. And we mean really clean.

Your first step is to clean the surface with rubbing alcohol. You’re going to need to put some elbow grease into it. The surface of your material might look clean to the naked eye, but there could be some oil on there that’s preventing the decal from sticking properly.

This is because the manufacturing process leaves an oily residue on products that vinyl doesn’t stick well to. When you touch objects, the natural oils from your skin are also transferred.

If you don’t have to rub alcohol to clean the surface, you can use nail varnish remover as a substitute. You’ll just need to make sure the material is completely dry before applying your vinyl decal to it. 

If you’re still having issues after trying rubbing alcohol, don’t stress. Sometimes the adhesive needs time to bond to the surface better.

We suggest leaving the transfer tape on the vinyl for a while after applying the decal to your surface of choice.

It’s best to leave it on for between ten and fifteen minutes after applying the vinyl to the surface of your object. This helps it settle into place on the object, and you’ll apply your window decal without bubbles. When you remove the transfer tape, it should stick properly.

Wooden Surface

my vinyl decal not sticking what to do

You might be creating a sign using wood and a vinyl decal for a special event, and it’s just not sticking. We’ve got some great advice for you.

Firstly, you’re going to need to make sure your piece of wood is evenly sanded down. It’s possible to stick vinyl to rougher surfaces, such as applying vinyl decals on textured walls. They stick best to smooth surfaces, though.

We suggest sanding the wood down to remove anything that could be making the surface rough, such as grooves, knots, splinters, and small holes. 

A smoother surface also helps your vinyl lay flat when you place it on the wood. This is because there won’t be any spiky bits creating small lumps underneath the decal. It also helps prevent your vinyl from ripping as you put it in place. 

If you’ve tried this and your vinyl decal still isn’t sticking in place, you might need to add a layer of varnish to your wood. Raw wood can be a problem for vinyl no matter how much you sand it down. 

Adding a layer of varnish helps smooth the surface by covering up any dust particles and splinters that might be present. 

If you’re not a fan of the varnished look, you can also add a layer of paint to your wood. This gives you the opportunity to brighten your final product. 

Your Decal Isn’t Sticking to the Transfer Tape

why my vinyl decal does not stick

Sometimes when you try to move a vinyl decal from the backing paper to the transfer tape, it doesn’t stick. We’ll take you through what to do when wall decals won’t stick.

This is simply because not all transfer tapes are good quality. They’re therefore not as sticky as they should be. Heavier vinyl types also need sticker transfer tapes. If your design makes use of glitter or foil vinyl, you’ll need to make use of a transfer tape with a stronger adhesive.

If you’ve reused the transfer tape a few times and are trying to use it again now, the problem might not be the quality of your transfer tape. As much as we support sustainability, transfer tapes can only be used so many times. 

It might be time to replace yours.

Your Decal Isn’t Coming off the Transfer Tape

You might be having the opposite problem. Sometimes transfer tape can be too sticky, and your vinyl decal won’t come off it.

You have two options here. You can either buy transfer tape that’s less sticky, or you can make yours less sticky. It’s pretty easy to do.

You’ll need to stick your transfer tape to a few surfaces before sticking it to your vinyl. This makes the transfer tape less sticky, and you’ll be able to get the vinyl off it for transfer.

It’s as simple as sticking the tape to some fuzzy surfaces a few times. Some great examples are a pair of jeans or a blanket. The idea is that a few fibers from the fuzzy surface stick to the transfer tape.

This makes it slightly less sticky, but still sticky enough to transfer your vinyl.

My Heat Transfer Vinyl Won’t Stick

my vinyl decals are not sticking

There are a few reasons your heat transfer vinyl might not be sticking. As usual, the first one is the quality of the vinyl. Cheap vinyl unfortunately doesn’t stick well.

Many people don’t know that vinyl has a shelf life. This means that if you’re trying to use heat transfer vinyl that’s been sitting in your crafting cupboard for years, it’s likely not going to work.

If that’s not the problem, your heat setting might be. Each vinyl decal has its own heat and pressing instructions, so it’s important to read them before you go ahead. 

If you don’t press for long enough, your vinyl might not stick down properly. The corners will easily lift, especially if the vinyl is heat pressed onto a clothing item you’re going to wash.

If you’re using a regular iron and it’s too hot, this can ruin the adhesive. This means your vinyl won’t stick, no matter what you do.

You’ll also need to make sure you’re using enough pressure. Think about it: professional heat presses use a lot of pressure to stick vinyl down. Using a regular iron at home is perfectly fine. You’ll just need to make sure you’re putting some elbow grease into it.

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