Vinyl decals are a good way to personalize items or spaces, offering cost-effective decorations that can be easily applied.
But there is nothing worse than buying decals to brighten up your space, only to have them ruined by air bubbles or premature peeling. So how do you apply vinyl decals properly?
This handy guide will first take you through some quick instructions and then some more detailed information so you can be sure you are getting the most from your decal collection.
- Prepare the surface
- Decide where you want to stick the decal
- Peel off the transfer tape
- Place the decal where you want it
- Firmly rub the decal with something hard to make it fully adhere
- Carefully peel back the transfer tape
- Remove any air bubbles left under the decal
Preparing The Surface
Preparing the surface ready for your decal is important to make sure the decal properly sticks and does not peel away prematurely.
The perfect decal surface is smooth, dust-free, and clean. It is a good idea to avoid porous surfaces – surfaces like cement, leather, or brick – as the decal will not adhere properly.
If the surface needs to be cleaned, wipe the area with some soapy water and a clean rag. You just need to make sure that the surface is not going to be damaged by doing this and is dry before you stick the decal on.
Decide Where You Want To Stick The Decal
It is important to decide where you want the decal to be stuck before the backing material is peeled away as it cannot be moved once it is in place.
Experiment with positions of the decal against the surface to find your preference.
If you want it to be centered, make sure you measure the surface and mark the center. It is also a good idea to use a level to ensure your decal is laid straight, particularly for larger pieces.
Peeling Off The Transfer Tape
Most decals are attached to the backing material with a layer of transfer tape over the top, making application easier. Peel the transfer tape and decal away from the backing material.
Start from a corner and be sure to go slowly so the decal is not damaged or distorted by becoming stuck to the backing.
If this does happen, simply reattach by laying the transfer tape and decal back onto the backing material and pressing together before trying again.
Placing The Decal
Line up your decal with any markings you have made on your surface. Be careful to make sure your application is precise by lining up the top of the decal first, then slowly moving down to the bottom until the decal is lying flat on the surface.
Moving slowly at this point will reduce the amount of air bubbles trapped under the vinyl, preventing any wrinkles from appearing when you are done. Press down with your hands to make sure it is stuck.
Firmly Rub The Decal With Something Hard To Make It Fully Adhere
Using a ruler, credit card, Cricut scraper, or similar, begin at the center of your decal and rub using firm pressure.
Slowly move outward from the center to cover the whole of the design, making sure any air bubbles are removed and the decal sticks firmly to the surface.
Do not worry if some air bubbles are still under your decal, these can be removed later.
Carefully Peel Back The Transfer Tape
Begin at one of the corners and peel back the transfer tape. It is important to go slowly here so the vinyl decal is not lifted up with the tape.
If this happens, just replace the transfer tape back down onto the surface and repeat the previous step so the vinyl is stuck.
This step is trickier if your decal design is small or detailed as smaller vinyl is more likely to not stick to the surface properly. Just make sure to move slowly so none of the decal’s design impact is lost and reapply where necessary.
Remove Any Air Bubbles Left Under The Decal
It may be easier to remove some air bubbles without the transfer tape.
The process is the same, begin and the center of the design and firmly move any air bubbles outward until they can escape.
Congratulations! The application process is complete. You can now sit back and enjoy your newly decorated space.
Hot Tips & Frequently Asked Questions
Avoid Applying Decals In Very Hot Or Cold Temperatures
Most decal adhesives will not work if they are exposed to temperatures above 90°F (32°C) or below 50°F (10°C). If you are unsure of the temperature, you can put your hand on the surface you want to apply your decal.
If it feels very cold or quite warm to the touch it may be a good idea to wait to apply the decal so the surface is at a better temperature.
Make sure your decal is applied in the correct place by placing it on your chosen surface before the backing is peeled off and mark along the top edge.
When you are ready to stick the decal, all you need to do is realign the top of the transfer tape with the mark on your surface, and viola! Your decal has been perfectly placed.
What Is A Vinyl Decal?
A vinyl decal is a type of vinyl sticker, usually a shape of one color but with the long life stickiness associated with vinyl stickers.
Decals are cut from a roll of vinyl with a cutter or plotter machine, hence the single color, whereas vinyl stickers have an image printed onto the vinyl.
How Long Will My Decal Last?
If applied properly, a decal can last over five years and it is not uncommon for them to last a lot longer.
How Do I Remove My Decals?
To remove, use a hairdryer or a heat gun to gently warm the decal a little. This will loosen the adhesive and make removal easier.
Once warm, use a scraper or knife to lift up an edge of the design and pull away from the wall, moving slowly so the surface is not damaged. Any leftover adhesive on the wall can then be cleaned off.