How to Apply Vinyl Decal | Tips & Tricks For Great Great Decals

How to Apply Vinyl Decal

Vinyl Decals make it easy for you to decorate any surface from cars to laptops to windows. How to apply vinyl decals can seem hard at the beginning. It’s a fun way to add creativity to general-purpose products. They offer a personalized feel which can further represent your individuality or your business! 

All our designs come in a range of styles and colors. You can make it a festive design to your own liking. There are many places to apply vinyl decals. Sometimes when you apply the vinyl decal the placement can be crooked or wrinkled. You want to make sure that you have a steady hand and apply it correctly. 


White van with a decal

First, you want to spot-check the surface you’re working with. This can be anything from laptops to car trunks. With any surface, you want to make sure that the surface is smooth. Be sure to detect the flatness of a surface because it can create visible bumps.

Transferring custom decals begins by how you position it. Take an overview look of where you want the vinyl decal to be. Once you pinpoint a specific area hold the sticky part down as you slowly peel off the cover. 


What You Will Need to Apply a Decal 


Luckily for you, what you’ll need to apply a decal are common household items: masking tape, glass cleaner, paper towels, measuring tape, and scissors or a razor and a squeegee (a credit card will do). Before you choose the placement, you want to gather all your materials for a successful preparation. 

The masking tape will help you align the decal in place. You can pre-mask the decal by precisely lining it up. Once you got your position you can tape it across one side to the other to create a stable foundation. 


Choose a flat surface to put your decal on 


drink decal on the coffee shop window

You don’t want to buy a festive sticker with bad results. It is essential that you choose acceptable surfaces when placing your decal. It’s best to choose a smooth surface.

This surface can look like glass on vehicles or wood. A huge indicator of an acceptable surface is a glossy enamel.

For vinyl decal application instructions, the first step is choosing a flat surface. The shine on the smooth and glossy surface will enable the decal not to stick with an awkward finish.

You don’t want your decal with air bubbles, you want it to shine and represent who you are!


Avoid applying your decal in extreme temperatures 


The decal will be sensitive to different weather patterns. You want to be mindful of this to avoid the consequences of decal in extreme temperatures. When you apply your decal in extreme temperatures it can cause the vinyl to get soft and stretch. 

The general rule of thumb for surface temperatures will be around 50 to 90 degrees Farhenheit. If the surface immediately feels the decal, the adhesive application will be problematic. Make sure to check the temperature to save your decal at its best condition. 


Prepare a cleaning mixture of rubbing alcohol and dish soap 


The great thing about kitchen appliances is that they’re versatile. Use your dish soap at home by mixing it with some warm water. This way it can activate the cleaning process stronger. 

You can prepare this cleaning mixture by setting aside rubbing alcohol to wipe down the entire area. The rubbing alcohol can be applied with a cloth to target the problem areas. 


Clean the surface your decal is going on with the mixture 


hand in a glove holding a cloth

Another thing you need to consider is the cleanliness of the area. If the area has smudges or stains this will negatively affect your decal.

This is why you need to prepare a cleaning mixture with rubbing alcohol and dish soap. 

Wipe down the area with a lint-free cloth by applying the dish soap on the surface. You want to avoid any form of recontamination. To do so use a clean cloth and swipe it in one direction. 


Let the surface dry completely 


Applying vinyl decals, will go successfully as long as you’re making sure the surface is in tip-top shape. Patiently wait for the surface to completely dry before you begin your application process. 

At any moment of hesitation, check to see if it is fully dry by airing it out or fanning it. If you’re choosing to do the wet application fluid, you want to make sure that your squeegee is out of the air bubbles. 


Choose where your decal will go on the surface 


How to apply decals can depend on the placement of the decal. With the measuring tape choose where you want it to be. After you see where you want the decal to go place the tape on 1 side as a hinge. Regular masking tape will help you target the main area. 

When you feel comfortable about the placement place the tape on the top so you can easily remove the decal background.


Mark where your decal will go with a pencil 


marking with red pencil

If you use elaborate window decals, you want to confirm that it's going to turn out exactly how you envisioned it to be.

Marking your decal with a pencil will help you position the decal with precision. 

Check the surface you want to use and from that point use a pencil by marking out the frame. You don’t need to make dark points, you just need to mark it softly to see the general outline. 


Tape the top edge of your decal to the surface with masking tape 


While still holding onto your decal, taping the edges will help you get a better sense of placement. To assist proper placement, tape the top edge straight across. This helps you get a better view of how your decal will look like.

If you want extra perspective, it’s best to ask a person nearby to overlook your placement. When you tape the edge it’s going to stabilize your decal so you want it precise as possible. 


Lift the decal upward and peel off the backing 


two girls peeling off the backing of a decal

Since it is made of high quality backers you want to position it before you lift it up. Get a firm grip because you want to have an easy lift. By pulling the edge of the backer, you need to slowly begin to peel off the backing.

The backing can get easily wrinkled and mismanaged. It’s best to be sensitive with the way that you’re handling the decals on the surface. Pay attention to the adhesive vinyl to avoid any surface imprints. 


Lower the decal into place on the surface 


Holding the surface on one hand, with your other hand lower the decal in place. The adhesive will be activated through pressure. The drying will depend on the size of your decal so you want to first set it up. 

Once you wait around half and hour, you can press it firmly in place. Lowering the decal, also begins as you remove the masking tape. This step will help you lift the other side at the end of the hinge. 


Press the decal onto the surface using a squeegee 


red squeegee

Since the adhesive is pressure-activated it’ll take some time to set up and dry fully. Be patient with the process to avoid any wrinkles or further mishaps.

Once you have the decal firmly placed you can use the squeegee to smooth out the overall surface. 

This step will help you have a flat area. Inspect the decal and if you see any loose areas use a squeegee or a credit card to apply pressure. This will smooth out the surface and create a straight edge.

Gently work with the squeegee to help you get the best surface.


Remove the top lining of the decal and the tape 


Once you’re finished with waiting you want to remove the top lining of the decal. This will assist the final process to help you correct any issues with your decal. Be very gentle with the tape because it can damage your decal if your rip it too hard or too fast.


Frequently asked Questions

What is the fastest way to apply a decal?

One of the fastest ways of applying a decal to any surface is to first make sure that surface is flat, clean and free of debris. Next place a piece of masking tape where you want the bottom of your decal to go. Remove any backing to the decal, and start at the bottom of the decal, line it up with the masking tape and slowing press the decal onto the surface and slide your hand up the decal and continue pressing as you go. You can also use a credit card for this part. That's it!

How easy is it to apply a static cling?

Applying a static cling is easier than applying a decal or sticker. A static cling has no adhesive so you don't have to get it right the first time. First make sure you are applying the static cling to a clean, flat surface that is free of any dust or debris. Then you should mark off the area you want the static cling applied to with some masking tape as a guide. Next start at either the top or the bottom of the cling and slowly press the static cling into the surface as you slide your hand over the cling until it's attached to the surface. 

How do I remove a vinyl decal?

Removing a vinyl decal is easy if you have a few handy tools. It helps if the decal is warmed up so grab a blow dryer and slowly heat up the decal without getting anything else too hot. You should be able to grab a corner of the decal and slowly lift it off of the surface. If the decal is old and dried out it may come off in parts. Once you have most of the decal off you should be able to use some rubbing alcohol to get any residue off. Make sure that rubbing alcohol is okay to use on whatever surface your decal is on. 

Is Removable vinyl the same as permanent vinyl?

Removable vinyl decals are basically the same as permanent vinyl decals, the biggest difference is the amount of adhesive on each one. Removable vinyl decals have low adhesive on the back so they are easier to remove without leaving residue. Permanent vinyl decals have much more adhesive on the back to insure that they stay on during car washes and adverse weather conditions. Even though removable decals have less adhesive on them, there are certain conditions where they may leave some residue behind. If your removalbe decal has been left on too long or if it has been left in the sun, there may some residue left behind when you remove it. 

How do a put up a large decal?

If you have a larger decal to apply to a surface you may need two people to install it. If you need to put it up yourself, just make sure you have all of your tools ready to go. First clean the window or surface so it is completely free of any dust or debris. Next use some masking tape, a leveler and a ruler to mark off the area where you want the decal applied. It will probably be easier to apply the decal starting from the top down. Start at a top corner and press the decal into the surface as you slowly press down as you smooth out the decal across the surface to the other top corner. Then do the same from the top of the decal to the bottom. 

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