How to Apply a Vinyl Decal
So I get a lot of questions on how to apply a vinyl decal like the ones you can buy here on my website or in my Etsy shop. Today I wanted to post a quick little tutorial and video showing you how to apply a vinyl decal.
No matter where you purchase your decal, you should have a paper backing and a piece of clear transfer tape. The goal is to remove the paper backing so your decal is stuck to the clear transfer tape. For this you’ll need your decal and a hard flat object like a credit card or a driver’s license. In the photos and video you’ll see me using my Cricut tool but you DO NOT need one of these to get the job done.
Step One: Burnish
Burnishing is basically taking your driver’s license or credit card and rubbing on the clear transfer tape. You’ll want to place your decal on a hard flat surface like a table. Make sure your decal is face up so you can see the design. Use your credit card or driver’s license and rub across the clear transfer tape. Use a little bit of pressure to ensure there are no air bubbles between your decal and the transfer tape. The purpose of burnishing is to press the transfer tape firmly onto the decal and to remove any air bubbles.
Step Two: Burnish Again
Then you’ll want to turn the decal over and burnish the back side. This time you’ll have the decal face down and you’ll be rubbing the paper backing.
Step Three: Peel
Once you’re done burnishing the front and back it’s time to peel the paper backing off the decal. Notice I said peel the paper backing off the decal, not the transfer tape off the paper backing. It is very important that you peel from the back and not the front. While your decal is still face down find a corner and start to peel the paper backing off of the transfer tape. Go very slowly. In the video you’ll notice that my decal stuck to the paper backing right from the beginning. If this happens just turn the decal face up, place the transfer tape back onto the paper backing and burnish some more. Turn the decal face down again, burnish the back some more and then try to peel again.
If your decal is still sticking to the paper backing you’ll need to bend the paper backing at the edge of the decal section that is sticking. Keeping the paper backing at an angle, press down and peel back simultaneously. You’ll kind of “walk” the paper backing back with your fingers until you see the decal separate and stick to the transfer tape.
Continue slowly peeling the backing off of the transfer tape until you get the entire decal onto the transfer tape. If you get sections that stick again just go back and follow the previous instructions. Remember to go slow! There’s no race here. It’s better to take 15 minutes to apply your decal than to ruin your decal and have to buy a new one.
Step Four: Applying the Decal
You’ll have your decal on a clear piece of transfer tape so you’ll be able to see the cup or whatever item you’re applying the decal to through the transfer tape. Slowly lower the decal down onto the item ensuring you have it centered exactly where you want it. I recommend holding the decal at all four corners when doing this. You’ll want to place your 2 index fingers at the top 2 corners and your 2 middle fingers at the bottom 2 corners. This leaves your thumbs to press down from the top when you have the decal in place. The only reason for this is because sometime the transfer tape has a bit of static cling and it will jump down on to your final product before you’re ready. If your decal isn’t exactly in the place you want it, too bad, you’re stuck with it after that. Once the actual decal touches the final product it’s pretty darn hard to get off without damaging the decal.
Once you have the decal in place rub with your fingers or with your credit card to ensure the decal gets good firm contact with your final product. Then start at a corner and slowly peel off the clear transfer tape. You’ll need to go slow here also just in case any section of your decal is not completely adhered to your final product. If you notice the some of the decal is lifting up, just put the transfer tape back down and rub it some more.
And there you have it. How to apply a vinyl decal. Make sure to watch the video too. It’s quick, I promise!