How to Apply Vinyl Decals

by Francis Walsh

Easy to design and apply, vinyl decals can be seen on all types of materials and products that have been decorated with company and/or personal messages. Vinyl is a pliable material that can stick to glass, metal, wood and plastic. Cars, walls and windows are perfect places to transfer a vinyl design onto.

Mix dish detergent and rubbing alcohol together at two parts soap to one part alcohol. Completely clean the area that will receive the decal with the solution and wipe dry with a lint-free rag or paper towel. Allow to dry before transferring the decal onto the location. Dirt or dust lessens the adhesiveness of the vinyl decal, so you need a clean surface to stick the decal to.

Measure the location of the vinyl decal so that it is centered in the right place and level with the surrounding material. Without first locating the correct place for transfer, you risk the decal being off-center or crooked.

Remove the protective backing from the vinyl decal. The protective backing is the thick paper product that the vinyl decal is affixed to prior to application. The vinyl decal has one backing and one top covering to protect the decal prior to application. The thick backing should be removed and the thinner topping paper is what is used to transfer the decal from the protective backing and topping paper to the location it will be placed. Once the protective backing paper is removed the vinyl decal is ready to be transferred to its final location.

Place the vinyl decal onto the correct location and use tape to secure the vinyl decal topping paper to the location of transfer. Once you have determined that it is in the correct place, use a plastic or rubber squeegee to press the vinyl onto its location material using an angled swiping motion. Continue to swipe the squeegee over the vinyl decal topping paper evenly until the vinyl has been pressed onto the location and all the minute air bubbles under the vinyl have been squeezed out. Once this swiping has been completed, the vinyl will remain affixed to its location even after the protective covering has been removed.

Remove the tape that secured the protective covering to the place the vinyl decal was affixed to. Once the tape has been removed you can begin to remove the protective covering from the vinyl decal. Begin at the top corner of the protective covering and begin to peel back the covering so that you are pulling at a 45-degree angle to the decal.


  • check For the cleaning solution, it is possible to use a mixture of soap detergent and fingernail polish remover instead of rubbing alcohol if you have that instead of the alcohol.


  • close The cleaning solution is a strong cleaning agent which can cause distress in breathing if inhaled closely or over long periods of time. Mix and clean the solution in well ventilated areas to avoid breathing distress from the mix of alcohol and soap detergent. Don't pull the protective covering straight up of straight down. The protective covering will keep its grip on the vinyl unless pulled at a 45-degree angle.

Items you will need

About the Author

Francis Walsh has been working as a freelance writer since 2003. He has contributed to websites such as Shave, Autogeek and Torque & Chromeas, as well as provided content for private clients. Walsh has worked as a performance part-packer and classic car show promoter, now serving as crew chief for Nitrousfitz Racing.

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