Applying Vinyl to a Wall

Applying your Vinyl to a Wall

You will need the following materials: tape measure or ruler, water soluble pencil, masking tape or painters tape & applicator (a credit card or plastic spatula works great!).  A builder’s level or laser level is nice.  Some color pencils remove easily with water and some thin markers are also water soluble. Test them on your surface first in an inconspicuous area.  Guidelines can also be made with painter’s masking tape.

Step 1:  Prepare Your Surface

The best wall surface is a painted one, but vinyl does not adhere well to eggshell paint finishes due to the chalk content of this paint.  You will need to seal eggshell finishes with a clear acrylic or varnish before applying the vinyl.  If your paint has satin, semi-gloss or enamel finish, it should adhere well.  Vinyl adheres to textured walls, but you may have to do some extra pressing in step 5 to help it to mold to the texture.  Vinyl adheres almost too quickly to glass, mirrors, metal and plastic and acrylic materials. You may want to use an application liquid for these surfaces. The wall surface should be clean and dry.  If you need to use a cleaner, be sure it dries thoroughly and then wipe with 70% Isopropyl Rubbing alcohol as some cleaners will leave a residue.

Step 2:  Prepare Your Vinyl

If it was shipped in a roll, unwrap it and let it lie flat with the transfer tape side up (so you can see the lettering or design) until it stays flat on its own.  Then rub it with your applicator to be sure the design is sticking well to the transfer tape. Using a straight edge, pencil guidelines on the transfer tape side of the design.  You can place lines at the bottom of lettering, or carefully measure the whole design (just the design, not including any extra material around the vinyl), find the midpoint and draw vertical and horizontal lines.  This is the way sign professionals line up their vinyl.

Step 3:  Position and Tape Vinyl

Tape the design to your wall with little pieces of tape to get an idea where you want it to be, extend your guidelines to the wall, then remove it and then measure the guidelines on the wall and adjust them to be sure they are straight.  You can use a level or measure from adjacent walls and ceilings, etc. remembering that they usually aren’t precisely straight.

Place your vinyl design back on the wall and line up all the guidelines, then tape with little pieces of painter’s tape on all the corners and along edges to keep it well in place.

Take a longer piece of masking tape and place it vertically a few inches above, over the design and a few inches below at the center of the design.  Another one close to this one will secure it well.  These tapes allow your design to “hinge” for more precise application.

Step 4:  Remove Backing Paper

If you are right handed, lift up the right half of your design, bend it over the long vertical tapes and over the left half.  Peel off the backing paper.  Cut the backing close to the hinge and set it aside for use in the last step.  Carefully press the transfer tape and design back into place on the wall and smooth it out to the edge. Lift up the left side and the hinging tape and lay it over the right side, remove the backing and press down the left side of the design from the center out.

Step 5:  Burnish your design

The design should have placed just where you want it.  Using an applicator, firmly rub the entire design from the center out, like rays of a sun.  This is where you may need to take extra care to press the vinyl into any areas with texture.

Step 6:  Remove Transfer Tape

When it is firmly attached, slowly peel the transfer tape from the design.  Start at a corner of the design and peel down at a 45 degree angle to the design.  Don’t pull the transfer tape up, but pull it 180 degrees back on itself as you pull it off.  If the design begins to lift up, put the transfer tape back and press firmly over the area and then try to remove it again.

Remember the two pieces of backing paper?  To be sure the design is firmly in place you can place the backing paper over the design with the slick side down and burnish with your applicator tool over the paper and the design.  With the transfer tape gone this keeps your applicator from scratching the vinyl.

Written instructions are usually confusing.  There is a video on YouTube at that shows how to do a “hinge” installation.  Don’t lift up the transfer tape as the demonstrator does, instead of back on itself.  Lifting it up can cause bubbles in the vinyl.