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How To Apply Vinyl Decals

vinyl decal layersFIRST you need to know Each decal has 3 pieces:

1. The top layer is the transfer tape or pre-mask.
2. The middle layer is the actual vinyl decal.
3. The waxy bottom layer is the backing that the decal sits on.

These decals come to you all together in three layers. 

The top layer is called transfer tape or pre-mask. It looks somewhat like regular masking tape or clear tape. And is used to apply and protect you decal as you apply.
The middle layer is the actual decal. And this will come up with your transfer tape when your ready to apply.
The bottom layer is a backing paper with a waxy surface.


Quick Vinyl Application Tips....

  • Do not apply in cold weather - adhesive may stick but will lift easily.
  • Do not apply in extreme heat, apply in the shade - vinyl will get very soft and stretch.
  • Do not use alcohol to apply - it will destroy the adhesive.
  • Do not use ice scraper on the sticker/decal - may lift or break pieces off..
  • Do not touch the adhesive backing - oils from your skin will prevent sticking.
  • Do not point high pressure car wash nozzle at the edges of the sticker/decal for a long time - may lift or break pieces.
  • Car washes are safe.
  • Before application make sure there is no wax or rainx products on the surface - adhesive may stick but will lift easily.
  • Don't apply wax over graphics, especially if the wax contains any petroleum distillates. 

Wall Application

Each of the following items can cause either poor adhesion when you apply your graphic, or damage when you decide to remove it:

  • Highly textured paint
  • Poor initial paint bond or poorly painted edges (make sure your paint isn’t chipping or peeling)
  • Patched areas that have not been primed
  • Dust, dirt or other contaminants on the wall
  • Freshly painted walls that have not had time to cure (We recommend at least 2 weeks, 3 weeks is best.  If you have questions on how long it takes your paint to cure, contact your paint supplier).  Vinyl graphics tend to bubble and release from the wall if the paint is still in the curing process.
  • Moisture behind the drywall, which can cause the drywall paper to release. Watch for walls that back up to cooling systems, water pipes, overhead windows and windows that have been boarded up. These areas are prone to condensation that may not be obvious at the time of installation.
  • High humidity area
  • Dust, dirt or other contaminants on the wall
  • Wallpaper or other wall covering that is not securely bonded to the wall

Cleaning Procedures:  
All surfaces are contaminated to some degree.  To ensure good adhesion to any wall surface it is critical that you make sure your surface is clean and dust free.

1. Wipe down the wall with a dry tack cloth or a lint-free microfiber cloth to remove any dust, paying special attention to the wall’s edges and corners.

2. For walls that need a bit more help, try a damp cloth and let the wall dry before applying the decals.

Downloadable Football Field Instructions

Vehicle and Simaliar Surface Cleaning Procedures:  
All surfaces are contaminated to some degree.  To ensure good adhesion to any vehicle surface it is critical that you follow these recommended procedures in decontaminating and preparing the surface prior to any vinyl product installation.  

1. Wash and rinse the area with liquid dish detergent and warm water.  Then dry the surface with a clean, lint-free towel or cloth.

2. Finish up the cleaning process by wiping down the entire area with Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol).  To avoid recontamination during the final cleaning step, wipe the surface in just one direction, using a clean, lint-free towel or cloth.  You are now ready to apply the vinyl.

Temperature Recommendations:  
Surface temperatures MUST be between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit before attempting the installation. As a general rule, if the surface is hot to the touch it's over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Adhesive becomes brittle when it gets too cold and gummy when it gets too hot. Applications outside the recommended range of 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit reduce the adhesives' ability to perform.

Application Procedures:  
You can choose to apply vinyl in one of two ways; dry or wet.  Applying vinyl dry does not allow for any mistakes, and recommended for small decals.  Once the vinyl touches the surface, there is no removal without damage.  We suggest that all customers use the wet process for larger graphics.
Do Not use the wet method on Wall words or reflective vinyl.

Wet Application Fluid:

You can make you own application fluid with 4 drops of dishwashing liquid (dawn, joy, or baby shampoo etc.) to 1 quart of water in a spray bottle.


Figure 1

SMALL Decal Installation

1. Measure where you want you decal to be. Then tape in place on 1 side only to use as a hinge, using regular masking tape. Place your tape on the top, bottom or either side, however you feel more comfortable.

Figure 6

2. Peel the bottom WAXY LINER layer away from the DECAL and MASK LAYER starting at the opposite side of the masking taped hinge, and slowly remove it.

Figure 6

3. Wet method is suggested for beginners and larger decals. To use the wet method placement, spray the smooth surface with a mixture of soap and water.

Wet Application Fluid: Wet method is how you install larger images with NO BUBBLES in it (and a MUST for frosted vinyl to ASSURE every bubble is removed) , being wet allows your to squeegee out the air bubbles trapped inside before it sticks to the surface. You can make your own application fluid with 4 drops of dishwashing liquid (dawn, joy, or baby shampoo etc.) to 1 quart of water in a spray bottle.

Figure 6

4. While still holding the PRE-MASK layer away from the smooth surface. Use a squeegee, credit card or any plastic straight edge to help in application. Start from the side with the tape and gently work away from the tape and squeegee out all water and soap.

(Note: if you do not have a squeegee use your fingertips or the sharp edge of a credit card, plastic ruler or similar object)

Figure 6

5. Use your squeegee and apply pressure from the middle to the outward sides, this will remove all water and start the decal adhesion. Let sit for 5 minutes before removing. If your decal appears to not be sticking the fluid is still behind the decal, just squeegee again and let sit for 10-15 minutes.

The decals have a pressure sensitive adhesive the harder you rub the harder it sticks, also the longer you let it sit the stronger the adhesive will adhere.

Figure 6

6. Now your ready to pull off your PRE-MASK layer and view your decal. Gently pull it off, if you see some vinyl start to come up with the PRE-MASK then lay it back down, squeegee, and wait a few minutes and try again.

Prick any air bubbles with a pin and rub down. Be sure that outer edges of decal are rubbed down smoothly and all liquid is forced out. This is essential for proper adhesion.

Wet Method
The wet method is recommended on decals larger than 12" x 18" in size, and frosted vinyl.

  1. Be sure that the surface is clean and free from residue. Find center of decal and the surface on which you want to apply it. Hold the decal in place desired and mark two top corners with pencil.
  2. Put 2 to 3 drops of Ivory Liquid per gallon of water and sponge onto adhesive surface only. DO NOT wet backing sheet. (Glass Plus or other non-ammonia window cleaner may also be used).
  3. Start separating the decal at one corner and pull it back slowly, keeping the adhesive wet as you go.
  4. Wet the surface with the same solution mixed previously and position the decal to the marks established in No. 1. Wet hands with solution and rub over decal lightly, smoothing out any wrinkles.
  5. Work out water with plastic squeegee and dry excess liquid with a soft cloth or paper towel. Squeegee the decal from top to bottom beginning at the center. Proceed right from center, and left from center overlapping strokes 50%. Prick any air bubbles with a pin and rub down. Be sure that outer edges of decal are rubbed down smoothly and all liquid is forced out. This is essential for proper adhesion.
  6. Decal must dry out for 24 hours before adhesion is complete.


Magnetic Sign Care !

Help My Magnetic Sign Blew Off.......This is one of the most common complaints that we hear about magnetic signs.  All of the time, this is caused by applying the sign to a dirty surface, applying a dirty sign, or applying the sign while it is cold.

Magnetic material becomes stiff and relatively inflexible when it is cold.  When the sign is applied while it is cold and stiff, it does not properly grip the vehicle surface.  Take a trip down the highway at high speed, and you could wind up losing your sign.

First and foremost, never apply your magnetic sign cold! It's ok to put the magnetic sign on in cold weather, but the sign itself must be warm.  That means you must store your magnetic signs in a warm place during cold weather or you must take the time to warm up your magnetic signs before applying them to your vehicle.  You can use your vehicles heater to warm up the signs before applying them.  Start up your car and turn on the heat.  After the cars starts to generate heat, place your magnet's in the car under a heat vent for about 15 to 20 minutes. Assuming your car has good heat, that should do it. Make sure the sign feels soft and flexible before applying it.

Also, the magnetic rips and tears very easily when it is cold.   Always be careful when handling a cold magnetic sign.

Always apply a clean sign to a clean surface. It's a good idea to wipe off the area you will be placing the magnetic sign on with a soft damp cloth to remove any loose dirt that might be there.  It's also a good idea to wipe off the back side of the sign too.  If both surfaces are clean, then you should have no problems getting a good strong bond between the magnetic and the vehicle.

It's also very important to store your magnet's flat.  Don't toss them in the trunk or the back of your pick up truck and pile other stuff up on top of them.  Magnetic signs tend to take the form of whatever they are up against.  If yours is in a folded, crumpled heap under a bunch of junk in your trunk or pick up bed, your 're going to have trouble flattening them out next time you want to use them.  If they are not flat when you apply them, they will not properly grip the vehicle surface.

Follow these simple tips and you should get years of service from a set of our magnetic signs.

  • Apply your magnetic signs warm
  • Apply clean magnetic's to a clean surface
  • Always store magnet's flat



  1. Begin by heating one corner of the marking with a blow dryer, heat lamp, hot water or heat gun until hot to the touch. Pick up an lift that area you just heated (use a razor only on glass surfaces). Slowly begin pulling back the decal, at less than a 90 degree angle. Continue applying heat to the area just before the area that is being removed.
  2. Once you have removed the marking, check to make sure that all of the adhesive residue has been removed. Remaining residue may be removed by using Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol).



Vinyl Letters, Vinyl Numbers, Vehicle Decals, Wall Art Declas, Wall Words

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we take all credit card for decals

Call Toll Free to talk to a Vinyl Professional (877) 630-0052
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Copyright 2000, All rights reserved.
Live Oak Productions Inc., 1447 Coolbaugh Road, Gouldsboro PA 18424

Most designs are owned and property of Live Oak Productions any one caught copying OUR EXCLUSIVE decals will be prosecuited.
Some vinyl decals are aftermarket. They are not factory original Decals. All logos and registered trademarks are the property of their respective companies and the use of any purchased vinyl decal is the sole responsibility of the purchaser. By clicking the "Buy" button the purchaser agrees to these terms and regulations.