Getting Started with Adhesive Vinyl - A Beginner's Guide
Posted by Heat Transfer Warehouse on Oct 26th 2019
You may have heard the term adhesive vinyl, or sign vinyl, or pressure sensitive vinyl, or even sticker vinyl… what’s the difference? These terms actually refer to the same thing!
For the purpose of this blog, we will be using the term Adhesive Sign Vinyl.
In this blog, we explain the different kinds of Adhesive Sign Vinyl and go into more detail as to how to get started with Adhesive Sign Vinyl - or whatever you prefer to call it! We even show you a step-by-step application near the end!
What is Adhesive Sign Vinyl?
Much like heat transfer vinyl, there are a few terms and types of vinyl that fall into the category Adhesive Vinyl.
Keep in mind that no Adhesive Sign Vinyl can be applied with a heat press! Essentially, these products act as a sticker, and they are all designed to be applied to hard surfaces, ideally smooth surfaces.
Also, nearly all Adhesive Sign Vinyl needs a transfer mask or tape of some sort. Don’t let this confuse you - we will go into greater detail on this below!
Different kinds of Adhesive Sign Vinyl
There are different kinds of Adhesive Sign Vinyl depending on how you want to use it. Before choosing an adhesive vinyl, you must have an idea of what your project will be. Then, find a vinyl that will best fit that project!
1) Oracal 651 Sign Vinyl: If you have any familiarity with Adhesive Sign Vinyl already, you’ve likely heard of Oracal 651 before. This vinyl has a permanent adhesive and features a high gloss finish. It could leave a trace of adhesive when you peel it off, depending on what you are putting it on. It works well for vehicle graphics, but it’s not designed for indoor applications such as wall art or home decor. It’s more ideal for outdoor applications, as it features 6-year outdoor durability.
2) Oracal 631 Wall Vinyl: Unlike Oracal 651, Oracal 631 Wall Vinyl has more of a removable-friendly adhesive and features a matte finish. This is specifically designed for wall art or home decor and is not recommended for vehicle graphics. Overall, it’s more ideal for indoor and short-term applications, as it features 3-year indoor durability.
Siser EasyPSV brand: Siser has branded its Adhesive Sign Vinyl as EasyPSV. PSV stands for Pressure Sensitive Vinyl. Because Adhesive Sign Vinyl acts like a sticker, it is, in fact, a pressure sensitive vinyl!
1) Siser EasyPSV Permanent: Siser EasyPSV Permanent vinyl is very similar to Oracal 651. This vinyl has a permanent adhesive and features a gloss finish. It’s great for car graphics, glass, wood, plastic, metal and ceramic applications. It is not recommended for use on drywall or other painted surfaces, as it could leave a trace of adhesive when you peel it off. It is also not recommended for use near heat sources such as in a dishwasher. If you are putting this on glassware, we suggest hand-washing. This vinyl is most ideal for outdoor applications, as it features 3-5 year durability that can withstand sun exposure and rain.
2) Siser EasyPSV Removable: Siser EasyPSV Removable is very similar to Oracal 631. This vinyl has more of a removable-friendly adhesive and features a matte finish. You will notice that when peeling this vinyl off surfaces, it has a clean removability that leaves little or no adhesive, without the use of any solvents. It’s removable for up to 2 years but can last up to 3 years. Just keep in mind that the longer it’s on a surface, the more glue it can leave behind. This is also not recommended for use near heat sources such as in a dishwasher. Overall, it’s more ideal for indoor and short-term applications and will work well on glass, wood, plastics and much more.
3) Siser EasyPSV Glitter: Siser EasyPSV Glitter is similar to EasyPSV Permanent, but with the addition of a glittery appeal. This vinyl features a smooth and sparkly finish that is perfect for applications on glasses, ornaments, or wherever your creative imagination takes you! Once again, avoid using near heat sources such as in a dishwasher. Overall, it has long-lasting durability of up to 5 years depending on the climate and UV exposure.
Patterned Adhesive Vinyl: Sometimes you need something more than your normal permanent, removable, or glitter Adhesive Sign Vinyl. We have a variety of patterned adhesive vinyl options to make your designs pop!
1) Adhesive Patterns: Adhesive Patterns are perfect for decorating any smooth, hard surface. Common applications include car graphics, banners, lettering, window glass, and walls. We offer patterns related to sports, holidays and many other fun categories. These patterns have a permanent adhesive that features a gloss finish. They are printed with latex inks, which help produce high durability of 3-5 years.
2) 2 Color Custom Adhesive Vinyl Pattern: Even though we offer many Adhesive Patterns, perhaps there isn’t the right pattern or color combination for you. These 2 Color Custom Adhesive Vinyl Patterns are the same vinyl; however, these give you the ability to choose your preferred pattern, background color, and foreground color. There are over 1,300 possible combinations to choose from!
Specialty Adhesive Vinyl: We don’t stop at Permanent, Removable, Glitter and Patterened Adhesive Sign Vinyl. There are some other unique options that we have to offer!
1) PSG Textured Glitter: Unlike the other Adhesive Sign Vinyl that we offer, PSG Textured Glitter, as in the title, has a textured finish. It features real glitter flakes encased in polyurethane, similar to glitter heat transfer vinyl. This vinyl is not recommended for outdoor use. This product also does not require a transfer mask/tape (we touch on this below), but duct tape can be useful in place of a transfer mask/tape if you feel that it’s needed.
2) Magnetic Receiving Vinyl: Make any smooth, hard surface become a magnet with Magnetic Receiving Vinyl! This vinyl is great to use as a base layer for colored vinyl, dry erase boards, chalkboards and more. This vinyl does not require a transfer make/tape.
Adhesive Sign Vinyl Application
Now that we’ve discussed the different kinds of Adhesive Sign Vinyl, let’s go over how to do a general application!
For the purpose of this tutorial, we will be using our Adhesive Patterns and will be applying this onto a metal tumbler cup.
1) Unlike Heat Transfer Vinyl, when using any Adhesive Sign Vinyl, you want to cut your design right-reading. You do NOT want to cut your design mirror-image!
2) Once you are done cutting your vinyl, you will want to weed away the excess vinyl around your design.
3) Now you are ready to mask your vinyl! We recommend using either Siser EasyPSV Application Tape, Paper Application/Transfer Mask, Clear Application/Transfer Mask, FDC Paper Craft Hobby Mask 2668, or FDC Clear Craft Hobby Mask 2670. For the purpose of this demonstration, we are using Clear Application/Transfer Mask.
4) To mask your vinyl, you will want to use a squeegee to apply pressure and get all the air bubbles out. A squeegee is not always necessary, but is helpful and recommended. For larger designs, recommend the “taco method”. This method entails laying down the middle of the mask/tape first, then working your way to the edges. This will also enable you to reposition your design if needed.
5) Then, remove the original backing of the vinyl. We find that flipping over your design makes this process easier.
6) After the masking process is complete, you are ready to apply the vinyl. Make sure that the hard surface you are applying to is clean and clear of any debris. Then, you will want to use your squeegee once again to apply pressure against your vinyl onto the surface.
7) Now slowly begin removing the transfer mask/tape. If you notice that your vinyl is not completely sticking to the surface, place your transfer mask/tape back down and apply more pressure until it is fully adhering.
8) There you have it, a finished Adhesive Patterns application!