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Correct way to apply self adhesive vinyl decals ?

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What is the correct way to apply self adhesive vinyl decals to a painted surface such as a mower chain case cover.

Painted a couple of months ago so it should be fully cured. Just apply them dry or with soapy water and a squeegee - or is that a different type of decal?

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you can apply dry if you mark out with masking tape for a straight edge - or you can use soapy water and squeegee the water out both work.


For small pieces I apply dry, starting by removing only a small amount of the backing to stop it all sticking at once!

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I personally place the sticker in position and apply a couple of strips of low tack masking tape over the sticker and onto the suface to afix to .

( i do this with anything from a 3" sticker to a 10" sign as i have a Chinese 600mm plotter  as on occassion i make signs for people )

Then apply a light spray of 1 drop of washing up liquid in 500ml of water .

Turn the sticker over ( use the masking tape as a hinge ) and peel back the backing away from the masking tape hinge to half way across the sticker .

Fold the sticker back over slowly working down from the masking tape hinge laying the vinyl down and removing air bubbles as i go with a propriatory plastic squeegy , thpough a credit card etc can be used but are not as solid as the correct tool .Then once the backing is reached , peel it off as you work down using thy squeegy .

If no masking tape is at hand just peel a little of the backing paper back and turn it over to make a buffer to keep the sticker from touching the surface till you have it positioned and gently press a little down to hold it before going the whole hog with the squeegy .

Air bubbles are removed by use of a needle point and circular movement of a finger around the bubble working inwards .

If you have corregated surfaces then warm the sticker with a hair dryer to get it soft so it will mould easier into the undulations .

A " Stippler " ( Hard bristled brush ) aids this moulding process .

The same goes for rounded edges etc , where the slight heating from a hairdryer allows for a much better adheasion over time ( no lifting along the curve line ) .

For a better quality approach buy some low tack lifting paper and cover the whole sticker with it and use the top as masking tape and proceed from there .

The extra covering of the low tack lifting tape eleviates any damage to printed stickers whilst squeegying them down .

There are many companies who sell the lifting tape but i use MDP at - http://www.mdpsupplies.co.uk/

Check out their vehicle wrap and pimp up your Bolens :hide:  They dont all have to be red ! .

Their digital paper is also amazing as you can design and print your own stickers just how you want them using a std inkjet printer , i still see some i did around 6 years ago for advertising on shop doors .

Though these need a lifting paper as a barrier when applying them , Print a sheet out and cover in lifting paper then cut out with scissors or knife .Peel off the backing paper and apply , once happy remove the top covering of lifting paper .

I prefer the paper tapes for application work and the opaque plastic tapes for building up layers when prepping a sign using multiple colours as it is more easily viewable through.

Hope this helps .

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Just knocked this sign up today for a friend who i have done a lot of work for over the past 18 months .

The building was built in 1927 as a garage , The sign is over the old entrance which once was 2 wooden doors then blocked up in the 70's as 3 fuel pumps were installed in the alcove it created , then it has ended up following 18 months of work as a bungalow in the rear workshop area and tea rooms ( shop ) in the front .

The sign is not the best as the new occupier wanted me to just paint the burgundy and cream onto the old plywood ! .

But the vinyls have made it stand out along an otherwise plain , long road .

Diverging slightly - When digging out for the foundations i had to remove the origonal 1927 floor , it was simply 1" to 3" limestone embedded in bitumen ( tar ) with around 3/4" of cement covering it , No need for the breaker on this one it just dug up ...But nice to see how it used to be done .

The blue fencing , i cut down and welded from 10 foot high to 4 foot to give the new bungalow a more residential feel , taking away the industrial look of the high fence .

My old 1976 Villiers powerd mixer can just be seen peeking around the corner of the building ( wheel and yellow painted frame )


The sign it's self was set out by using chalk to mark the center line on the sign boards and chalk on the lifting tape of the stickers to indicate the center length of the writing / graphics.

The required heights marked with chalk on the frame and masking tape run between them to make a removable line to sit the lower edge of the words etc on to get them level .

The top of the paper backing material was folded back to the top of the vinyl and folded under to expose the top of the lifting paper .The folded under paper keeps the lifting paper away from the sign allowing for easy positioning before sticking the exposed lifting tape down .

The backing paper can then be removed , holding the sticker away from the sign whilst doing this .

As the top edge of the lifting paper is stuck down , as the rest is lowered and swiped to remove air , the lifting tape positions the wording / graphics as you go due to it's stiffness .

The sign is 2.5m x 2.5m in size , so the writing isnt small by any means , but the above method allowed for easy and precise placing , even in the drizzling windy conditions i had .

Though due to the 5deg temp i had to leave the lifting tape over the vinyl for around 20 mins to allow the vinyl's glue to get a hold as otherwise the stickers just wouldnt have stuck to the painted sign boards and could have lifted / ripped .

( yellow bags on the floor have the removed backing paper in , a good idea on windy days ) .


Edited by Mister Mad Mower

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