Instructions for Applying Die Cut Vinyl Decals
Suitable surfaces for application:
When installing vinyl, it is important that you apply the product to an adequate surface, one to which it will readily adhere. The following lists contain a brief summary of acceptable surfaces along with some surfaces that are not.
Vinyl will stick to many surfaces. In determining whether your intended surface is adequate, keep in mind that, as a general rule of thumb, vinyl will stick to almost any surface that is clean and either smooth or nonporous. To demonstrate the necessary surface qualities, we use glass versus brick as a quick example. Vinyl will stick very well to glass because of its smooth surface. On the other hand, due to its rough exterior, vinyl will not stick well to brick.
- Metals (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy enamel.)
- Vehicles (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy enamel.)
- Vinyl (Such as banners, canopies, flags, etc.)
- Fiberglass (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy enamel.)
- Wood (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy enamel.)
- Other painted Surfaces (Paint must be smooth and glossy, vinyl will not stick to oxidized, faded, or peeling paint)
Not recommended surfaces:
- Raw timber
- Oxidized or faded paint
- Peeling paint
- Raw metals
- Oily surfaces
***These lists are not comprehensive and there are other acceptable and unacceptable substrates than those listed above. Again, when in doubt, apply the rule that states vinyl will generally adhere well to smooth, glossy and clean surfaces. Rough, dull, peeling, porous or dirty surfaces, on the other hand, will likely not produce an acceptable vinyl application.
Each decal has 3 layers:
1. The top layer is the transfer tape.
2. The middle layer is the vinyl decal.
3. The bottom layer is the backing paper.
Quick vinyl decal application tips:
- Do not apply in cold weather, adhesive may stick but will lift easily.
- Do not apply in extreme heat, apply in the shade, vinyl will get very soft and stretch in extreme heat.
- Do not use alcohol to apply, it will destroy the adhesive.
- Do not use an ice scraper on the decal, it may lift or break pieces off.
- Do not touch the adhesive backing, oils from your skin will prevent sticking.
- Do not point high pressure car wash nozzle at the edges of the decal for a long time, may lift or break pieces. Car washes are safe.
- Before application make sure there is no wax or Rain-X products on the surface, adhesive may stick but will lift easily.
- Don't apply wax over graphics, especially if the wax contains any petroleum distillates.
- When using squeegee / credit cards on decal after transfer tape is removed, place squeegee / credit cards inside sock and then squeegee decal. (This will prevent scratching the decal)
Surface temperatures must be between 50 and 90 degrees fahrenheit before attempting the installation. As a general rule, if the surface is hot to the touch it's over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Adhesive becomes brittle when it gets too cold and gummy when it gets too hot. Applications outside the recommended range of 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit reduce the adhesives' ability to perform.
- Masking tape / paint tape
- Paper towels (the cheap white kind works best)
- Liquid dish detergent and warm water
- Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) (DO not use ammonia based cleaner such as Windex)
- A squeegee or 2 credit cards back to back
- 1 Clean sock (to wrap around squeegee / cards)
All surfaces are contaminated to some degree. To ensure good adhesion to any vehicle surface it is critical that you follow these recommended procedures in decontaminating and preparing the surface prior to any vinyl product installation.
1 - Wash and rinse the area with liquid dish detergent and warm water. Then dry the surface with a clean, lint-free towel or cloth.
2 - Finish up the cleaning process by wiping down the entire area with Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol). To avoid recontamination during the final cleaning step, wipe the surface in just one direction, using a clean, lint-free towel or cloth.
Prepping the decal for application:
- Turn decal face down on a flat hard surface and rub the squeegee / credit cards across surface of the decal.
- Flip the decal over and repeat
(This will help the decal stick to the application tape)
You are now ready to apply the vinyl decal:
Step 1 - Measure where you want you decal to be.
Decals smaller than 7" go to step 2.
Place your tape on the top, bottom or either side, however you feel more comfortable.
Step 2 - Apply tape horizontally across decal
Step 3 - Peel the bottom waxy liner (backing paper) layer away from the decal and transfer tape starting at the opposite side of the masking taped hinge, and slowly remove it.
If part of the decal sticks to the backing paper, carefully lay the decal and application tape back down to the backing paper.
Use your squeegee / credit cards and firmly rub across decal and try again.
Step 4 - While still holding the transfer tape layer away from the smooth surface. Use a squeegee / credit cards. Start from the side with the tape and gently work away from the tape.
Step 5 - Use your squeegee / credit cards and apply pressure from the middle to the outward sides, this will remove the air and start the decal adhesion.
Let sit for 5 minutes before removing.
The decals have a pressure sensitive adhesive the harder you rub the harder it sticks, also the longer you let it sit the stronger the adhesive will adhere.
Step 6 - Now you're ready to pull off your transfer tape layer and view your decal.
- Gently pull it off, if you see some vinyl start to come up with the transfer tape then lay it back down, squeegee, and wait a few minutes and try again.
- When using squeegee / credit cards on decal after pre mask is removed, place squeegee / credit cards inside sock and then squeegee decal. This will prevent scratching the decal.
- Prick any air bubbles with a pin and rub down. Be sure that outer edges of decal are rubbed down smoothly and all air is forced out. (This is essential for proper adhesion)
If you have any tiny air bubbles they should go away after a few days in the sunlight.
Let decal sit for 24 hours before washing your car. You can still drive your car and the decal will not fly off.