How to Make Truck Decals

by Francis Walsh

Trucks are great for work and play. The rugged durability of a truck lets an owner drive his vehicle under harsh conditions and for commercial purposes. Small businesses that use trucks during their daily activities like to show their company message on the side of their vehicles. Easy-to-make truck decals can be customized to say anything. As easy as creating a message on the computer, truck owners can adorn their personal and business trucks with a message that speaks volumes to the public. Hang a business sign or send a personal message with a vinyl decal to fit a truck. They are easy to create, make and install in minutes.

Sketch out the design for your new vinyl truck decal. Design one that fits the shape and size of the truck. Measure the area that you will cover with the decal so that you know you will have the right size decal when finished. Use the sketches to note the dimensions needed, the colors of the decal, design and placement of all the important parts of the truck decal in order to get the best possible final result.

Open a word editor like Microsoft Word to begin building your decal design. The do-it-yourself decal creator needs to know that a vinyl cutter wants to receive their decal drawing in a "vector" format. The easiest way to make a decal that can be converted to a vector file is to make a line drawing saved as a GIF file. The vector program can then scan in any line drawing and convert it to a vector file. If you have an image or a hard design to format, consider having someone from a vinyl cutter's shop make the artwork for you.

Send decal design files, including specifications for color and size of the truck decal, to the vinyl cutter's shop. The technicians there will insert your artwork into their computer and instead of printing the image on paper, they will send it to the vinyl cutter, which works like a printer, only it cuts out vinyl designs instead of printing on paper. The vinyl cutter outputs the finished truck decal made from vinyl, and you can pick it up immediately after it is protected with both a top and bottom protective covering.

Clean the area where the truck decal will be attached to the truck. Use two parts detergent and one part rubbing alcohol as a solution to clean the truck surface for decal installation. Wipe the area dry with a lint-free cloth and be sure that all dirt and debris has been removed. This process ensures fast adhesion to the truck by the vinyl truck decal. (A vinyl decal may not stick properly to a surface that is dirty.)

Center the tuck decal using a ruler to measure from each side and from the top and bottom. A properly centered truck decal will have people noticing the decal. Hang the vinyl truck decal with tape and then flip the entire deal over so that you can pull away the back protective covering and expose the sticky vinyl truck decal. Flip the truck decal back over on the tape ends and it should be right in place. Use your hand to press down evenly on the back of the decal that has the protective covering still attached.

Scrape the squeegee over the top of the vinyl decal evenly from every angle. The squeegee's job is to remove any trapped air bubbles that are caught in between the truck decal and the truck. This way the decal will be better looking and longer lasting. After you have scraped the entire decal onto the truck, pull the protective covering off the decal at a 45-degree angle. Not straight up and down, not side to side, but at a sharp angle from straight up and down. This removal method lets the vinyl release from the protective cover easily and without pulling or tearing the truck decal. Remove the protective cover away slowly and evenly. Wipe the truck decal with the cleaning solution and enjoy the new truck decal you just made and installed quickly.


  • check If you have no rubbing alcohol at home, you can use fingernail polish remover and soap detergent instead.


  • close MEASURE TWICE, HANG ONCE! The proper placement of a truck decal means the decal is level and centered in place. Measure wrongly and place quickly and the entire job could be done wrong and you'll need to remove a decal from your truck. Save time and money, measure and measure again before applying a truck decal to any truck body.

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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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Langford