Vinyl Text and Graphic Application


Vinyl application is most successful when the surface temperature is between 45 and 85 degrees with relatively low humidity. It is best not to apply on a surface that is in direct sunlight.

Assemble Supplies

You will need these tools to properly apply your graphic:
Razor blade or X-Acto hobby knife
Spray bottle with water application formula (for wet applications) To make: Add 3 drops Dawn dish washing liquid to 1 pint water
Masking Tape
Paper towels
Vinyl application squeegee or firm plastic card

Prepare the surface

We recommend cleaning with a gentle cleaner like 70% isopropyl alcohol mixed 50/50 with water and sprayed on to remove grime and light petroleum contamination. Windex and some other glass cleaners contain a chemical treatment intended to repel liquid, and actually contaminate the surface for vinyl application purposes. We have had good success using Goof Off brand cleaner for metal and some plastic surfaces, which is quite effective on left over sticker adhesive residue, but must be followed up with the alcohol/water mix above. TEST- TEST- TEST your cleaner on a concealed portion of the material you are preparing for graphic application to ensure the cleaner does not damage the surface.

Some plastics require flame treatment.

Read all of the following guidelines prior to starting your application.

Your graphic includes these parts:

TOP layer: Transfer tape (keeps text / graphics together during application)
MIDDLE layer: Cut vinyl text or graphic
BOTTOM layer: Release liner (attached to the adhesive surface of the vinyl graphic)
Using small pieces of masking tape, position the graphic where you want it.

Measure twice (or thrice) in order to apply once.
Apply a piece of masking tape along the top edge of the graphic to create a hinge. The tape should adhere to the surface you're applying the graphic to, and the transfer tape, but not go over the top of the vinyl graphic if possible. This keeps the graphic securely in place during application.

Lift the entire graphic, and gently remove the release liner. Go slowly in case any part of the vinyl graphic sticks to the liner as it is being removed. Once the liner is removed, SAVE IT in a clean spot. Do not touch the back of the vinyl graphic as the adhesive will lose strength if contaminated.

Careful! The vinyl may be applied once, and is impossible to remove and reposition once it touches the application surface.

Option: Wet Application

At this stage, you may apply a light mist of application formula to the application surface in order to reduce the tackiness of the vinyl adhesive, and allow any air bubbles an easier escape, or potentially allow repositioning if errors occur. Note: Wet applications must be allowed to set for several hours/overnight in a warm environment to allow the application fluid to evaporate and the vinyl adhesive bond to become permanent.

Continue holding the hinged graphic away from the application surface as you use the squeegee to begin adhering the graphic to the surface. Work in smooth long strokes in a perpendicular direction from the tape hinge with gentle pressure. 'Dragging' the squeegee tends to give the best results at this stage (not pictured).

Note: If a crease or fold develops, stop, snap graphic back up and re-squeegee. Large bubbles may be released after application is complete, don't push them under the vinyl surface while attempting to get rid of them.

Once gently applied, go back over the graphic with approximately 20# of pressure, from center of graphic to edge of vinyl, not necessarily from top to bottom- rather to the closest edge. At this stage, all application fluid should be squeegeed from beneath the graphic if you used the wet application technique.

Once the graphic is smooth, spray the transfer tape with the application fluid, or the isopropyl alcohol you used to clean the application surface in order to reduce the tackiness of the transfer tape, then peel it off of the applied graphic, peeling it back at a 180 degree angle to minimize the chances that wet applied vinyl will lift up. If any part does lift, lay the tape back down and re-squeegee.

Use the saved release liner, and with the shiny side facing out, lay it over the top of the graphic and squeegee once again to seal the graphic in place. Pay special attention to the edges, exerting about
20# of pressure with the squeegee.

Any trapped air may be removed by piercing the center of the bubble with a sharp pin (not razor blade edge) and the pressing the air with the tip of a finger to the center. Small bubbles will outgas through the vinyl over the coming days.