Apply Vinyl Stickers

How to Apply Vinyl Stickers

Your vinyl sticker is made of 3 layers:

  • The bottom piece is the backing paper; this gets discarded away after fitting.
  • The middle piece is the vinyl.
  • The top piece is the application tape. This is either semi-transparent or white, it is to help fit your item and is also discarded after you've fitted your item.

Vinyl Stickers & Decals will stick to most smooth non-porous surfaces

Some examples are A vinyl sticker won't stick to
  • Car bodywork
  • Glass windows
  • Motorbikes
  • Laptops
  • Interior walls
  • Dusty/unprepared surfaces
  • On that rusty bit you want to hide
  • Or any porous surface -
    fabric, most woods,
    dimpled surfaces, etc

Preparation

Always prepare the surface prior to application It is advised not to fit to any freshly painted/lacquered surface, allow at least 6 weeks for paint to fully cure (speak with your painter for best advice).

  • Use water to clean the area (no fancy window cleaners or chemicals needed, in fact most of these liquids won't help, avoid using them. Ammonia based liquids leave a residue on the surface which will hinder application)
  • The only solution (except plain water) 100% recommended to prepare a surface before applying vinyl is isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.
  • A lint free cloth to wipe dry is perfect, ensure the area is 100% dry. Standard dry paper towels are also recommended.

Temperature

  • If it's cold the sticker won't be as sticky and easy to fit compared to a warm sunny day. The adhesive on the vinyl will harden slightly, which makes it a little less sticky.
  • The ideal temperature to fit is around 18C
  • If you want to fit a sticker onto a surface outside when it's cold, gently warming the surface using a hairdryer prior to application will help greatly.
  • While you’re doing this, it also helps to keep the sticker somewhere out of the cold.

 

There are 2 basic ways of adding your Vinyl Decal or Sticker.

  • All Vinyl Decals can be applied using either method.
  • The dry way is faster, wet application is safer.
  • Smaller stickers can usually be "dropped" dry onto the surface without having to be taped up and done in sections.
  • Larger decals should be done wet, or must be taped in place and laid down in sections.
  • Either way, be careful and work slow.
  • Dry applied decals tend to stretch out if they stick by accident (and then have to be pulled off and re-stuck), and this can easily distort the decal.
  • The wet method allows you to slide, or remove the decal and re-position it safely during the application.

Tip

Always lay out your decals flat and go over them with a squeegee or credit card after you remove them from the shipping tube and before you start the application process. This is to re-affix the application tape to the decal after shipping, should any separation occur. The rolling up of decals for shipping can sometimes cause separation of the application tape from the decal in spots, making small air pockets... which is normal and easily fixed.

A simple laying flat and giving it a once over with a credit card or other straight edge will make sure your decal's application tape is nice and evenly stuck before you begin the application process. The application tape only needs to carry the image.

Wet Method Application

  1. Trim decals as needed. Clean your destination surface. The cleaner the better.
  2. Lay the decal flat, backing side up. Using a sharp angle - peel the vinyl-backing away from the application tape (that is holding the vinyl image). Be careful that all elements of the decal stay stuck to the transfer tape, and not the backing.
  3. Mist the decal and application tape (sticky side) and the destination surface. Clean water slides less but sticks better. You can add a drop or two of dish soap to the water for easier positioning of larger decals. Too much soap can cause problems with adhesion, so just a drop or two.
  4. Place the application tape holding the decal onto the destination surface as desired. You can slide it around a little. Be careful of small lines and details.
    ****When aligning, NEVER MEASURE using THE APPLICATION TAPE! Always measure from the actual decal image, which you can see through the application tape.
  5. Once aligned - starting from the image-centre and moving outward, squeegee out all the water and air bubbles. Start with light pressure, and slowly build with each pass over the graphic.
  6. Let the image stay on the surface with the transfer tape on for as long as it takes to dry. Direct sunlight on hot, dry days will speed this up. On cold, humid and rainy days can take up to 24 hours or even longer to fully adhere. Rule of thumb, if you are not sure whether or not it’s dry, and you did a really nice job putting it on, then don't be in a rush taking of the transfer tape (and risk messing it all up)... Be patient!
  7. Once fully dry, begin peeling the transfer tape off using a sharp angle against itself. This helps to keep your vinyl decal from pulling off the surface if it’s not fully adhered in all places. If the vinyl is not sticking, it's not dry yet, or the surface was not clean. If the image comes off the surface (still sticking to the application tape), simply lay back down, taking care not to create any air bubbles, and squeegee as before, and give it more time to dry and fully adhere. Wet method applied decals should not take more than 48 hours to fully adhere.

Dry Method Application

  1. Clean your destination surface. The cleaner the better.
  2. With your decal as-is (still taped up), lay your decal (backing-side down, application-tape-side up) and align as you like it. It should be adhesive side down, looking like it will look after applied. Once you get it lined up how you like it...
  3. Place a strip of masking-tape (vertically) down the cenre of the image to hold in place, over-lapping the edge onto the destination surface. Make sure the image won't move. Once fixed...
  4. Pull one side of the decal (the entire decal -application tape, backing and all) back flat against itself, folding over the masking-tape centre-line that you just placed to hold it down. Don't crease it, just "bend" it or "fold" it.
  5. Using a sharp angle, start in a corner and peel away the decals backing (away from the transfer tape that is holding the vinyl image) until you get to the masking-tape centre-line you laid to hold it in place. Keeping the vinyl (on the application-tape) pinned back with your finger, cut away the removed backing along the centre-placement-tape line. Careful not to scratch your surface or cut your vinyl image. Do not try and tear the paper, this will create fuzz and dust that may create bumps under the decal.
  6. Using any squeegee like item (a credit card works well), begin to lay your graphic down onto your prepared surface from the masking-tape centre-line outward. DO NOT LAY DOWN ALL AT ONCE! Hold the image at an angle above the destination-surface, and slowly, starting at the centre placement tape line, press down the image from the centre out using the squeegee. Squeegee from the centre tape line outward as you lay it down, taking care to no allow air bubbles to form between the vinyl and the surface.
  7. Once one side is laid down, remove the centre tape line, then remove the other half of the vinyl backing the same way as before, and repeat the process for the other side.
  8. Squeegee the entire image a few times, from the centre outward, each time with greater pressure, making sure that all of it is good and pressed onto the surface.
  9. Once you feel it is pressed on as good as can be, begin peeling the application tape off using a sharp angle against itself. If the image comes off the surface (sticking to the application tape), simply lay back down, and squeegee as before, then try again.

Troubleshooting

The most common issue you may experience is the application tape not lifting the vinyl prior to application. Dont worry, this is easy to fix, you'll need to simply squeegee over the application tape to push it onto the vinyl. Once you've done that, try again to remove the backing paper, the vinyl should now stick to the clear application tape, if it's a little better but still not coming off perfect, stop and repeat the process.

Remember, a sharp angle works best when separating vinyl from either the backing paper or the application tape.

If the decal does not stick, the surface was not fully cleaned, and may have oils or dust.

Removing Vinyl Stickers

  • Preparing - There are many ways to remove vinyl lettering. We have found that what is described below works for most situations. You will need the following: Hair Dryer or Heat Gun, Plastic Chisel/Scrapper, Adhesive Remover or Rubbing Alcohol
  • Heat Surface - Warm a small section of the vinyl with your heating tool. Do NOT over heat because this may ruin the material your vinyl is attached to.
  • Chisel and Pull - With great care not to scratch the underlying surface, slide a plastic chisel or scrapper under the vinyl on an edge that has been heated. You want to loosen a section of the vinyl so that you are able to pull it up with your fingers. Repeat heating and pulling until the vinyl is completely removed.
  • Remove Adhesive - After the vinyl has been removed, there may be some adhesive residue on the surface. Using either adhesive remover or rubbing alcohol pour a small amount over the area. Within 40 seconds the adhesive should break up. With a rag rub the adhesive until it has been removed.