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Vinyl Decals On Wood

Vinyl Decals On Wood Vinyl Decals On Wood

Another question we hear often is about what kind of painted substrates are suitable. There are two things to watch out for; porous paints that won’t make a good seal with the adhesive, and uncured paint. The best paints to use are those developed for sign making, like 1 Shot brand. If you can’t find One Shot, try an enamel paint.

Can i apply any kind of transparent paint or varnish on top so i can make sure it does not peel of ?!

So here are the bullet points for better adhesion of vinyl on wood. • If the wood is rough or porous, sand it so that the surface feels smooth to the touch. Then make sure there’s no sawdust or residue on the wood before applying the vinyl. • If it’s been painted or sealed, allow a few weeks for the paint or sealant to cure before applying vinyl. • If you have a choice of paint, use 1shot or an enamel paint. • Try a vinyl with a solvent adhesive. • If the vinyl letters are coming up with the transfer tape, give it some time, and/or moisten the tape. • If none of that works, try the stencil option and just paint the wood instead. It might be just as pretty.

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To begin to remove the plastic sheeting start from the right side and lift at an angle to the surface.  If you maintain a constant 45 degree angle to the stencil (see image) and pull back (165 degrees plus to initial surface) instead of up and away (~90 degrees to surface) you will get better final results.

For long term outdoor graphics, the smooth substrates mentioned above are the best choice. For larger graphics, heavier substrates are required. The most compatible options will be aluminum composite materials. These products are comprised of a sheet of aluminum laminated to a thick, flex resistant core made of a corrugated composite or plastic product. There are different trade names for these, but if you look for Alumacore, Alumalite, or DIBOND®, you’ll be able to find a reliable substrate for long term outdoor signage. MDO plywood composite is also a commonly used sign substrate. But If you choose MDO, please make sure it’s properly prepared and painted. If you absolutely must use unsealed wood for your vinyl graphic, keepsake, or bit of rustic restaurant decor, sand it first to get it as smooth as possible. Give the vinyl a fighting chance.

Here I made a slight error and the left leg of the letter “A” started to pull away.  When this occurs simply put the plastic sheeting and the vinyl decal back into place, apply finger squeegee technique (and/or rigid squeegee) to re-adhere decal to surface. When an error occurs make a special effort to slow down and repair the problem rather than giving up and wasting a decal or creating an imperfect application. In a pinch you can use a knife or a rigid squeegee to “pull” the vinyl away from the plastic sheeting and to stick it in place.

Here is the final Datatist decal applied on finished wood. In this instructable I’ve shared several tips and methods learned through trial and error on how to best apply a stencil to finished wood.1) When applying a vinyl decal to wood work slowly and methodically to get the best final result. Some wood finishes will not accept a vinyl decal while other wood finishes will allow vinyl decals to stick well. Consider using a test vinyl piece to test adhesion rather than a sacrificial decal to check if you chosen spot will work.I made it at Techshop Submitted by SFlettering for the Instructables Sponsorship Program

After a minor error make sure that the decal will remain in place before pulling the plastic sheeting fully away from the decal. For best adhesion make sure each letter is applied perfectly before moving on to the next. Most errors that occur with vinyl decals applied to wood can be reduced by making a stencil which is better suited to difficult surfaces through smart design and fewer small pieces.This example of the DATATIST decal was used to show that even complicated decals can be applied successfully to finished wooden surfaces.

Remove the white backing from the vinyl decal and place decal onto the wood carefully considering alignment to the final surface.When cutting the decals if you did not leave a straight edge or a 90 degree corner consider using a sharpie to draw a line across the bottom of the letters of the decal for best alignment with the finished wood application location.

There are differences in the performance of acrylic and solvent-based adhesives that can affect adhesion to non-standard substrates. You can read the full story in our Adhesives 101 article, but the short summary is this. Solvent based adhesives are a little more effective on porous or less than ideal surfaces like wood and stainless steel. If you’re having trouble, try a different kind of vinyl, or purchase one with a solvent-based adhesive to give yourself the best chance of success.

Make sure if you’re putting vinyl on any painted surface that the paint is completely cured. Fresh paint emits VOCs* that may react chemically with the vinyl’s adhesive and degrade it. This can cause adhesive failure after application. Trapped VOCs can also cause bubbles to appear under the vinyl. This is often a precursor for eventual adhesive failure. For more tips about suitable substrates, visit and read the FAQ.

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One of the most frequently asked questions we receive deals with substrates. As craft and hobby vinyl enthusiasts discover the appeal of rustic substrates, we receive more questions about putting vinyl on wood blanks. Many people call asking why their vinyl won’t stick to the wood and assume there’s a defect with the vinyl.  As the old Porgy and Bess song says, “It ain’t necessarily so”. When vinyl doesn’t stick to wood, the problem is usually with the wood. But there are ways to make it work and things to avoid. 

Step 1: Place Decal on Wood Without Backing : DATATIST Decal

If it’ still not working, and if you’re using paper transfer tape (not clear), you can  moisten the back of the tape with application fluid to soften the tape’s adhesive and weaken the bond between the tape and the vinyl. Spray it on, spread it around and give it five minutes to soak into the tape. Then give it one more try. If that doesn’t work, you may be dealing with a substrate that’s just not compatible with vinyl graphics.

Even when you have everything right, sometimes the challenges of the porous substrate make it hard for the vinyl’s adhesive to bond or ‘wet out’ quickly. Sometimes when you remove the transfer tape, the letter come up with it. This is not necessarily a sign of failure. Some adhesives take more time to bond. This is more common with acrylic adhesives. Use good firm squeegee pressure to press the film onto the wood and, if it’s not sticking, give it up to 20 minutes to set before you try to remove the tape.

Once you have followed the steps and done a great job to apply your stencil you can carefully promote adhesion by further “finger squeegee” pressure slowly and carefully to one piece or one letter at  a time.When applying the decal it is smart to treat it like something that you just glued in place. Consider leaving the decal in place without sliding anything over it for at least 5-15 minutes. (this step can vary with the ambient temp and it is more important when very warm to let the glue settle in place for best final adhesion.)thank you for reading about how to put vinyl decals onto finished wood.

Introduction: Vinyl Decals on Finished Wood – a Careful Application Process Step-by-step

Actually unsealed wood, plywood and even painted plywood are not good substrates for vinyl. Vinyl is an adhesive backed film that is expected to last for years outdoors in all kinds of weather. To achieve that longevity, the adhesive must have a firm bond with the substrate. This requires the use of very smooth substrates like glass, corrugated plastic, foam core, and painted aluminum. Rough surfaces like unfinished wood will not provide a sufficient bond with the adhesives used on vinyl films. The vinyl may stick initially, but sooner or later (probably sooner), it’s going to come off.

Pay careful attention to the squeegee step to promote adhesion to difficult surfaces like finished wood. When applying a vinyl decal to finished wood consider using the finger squeegee method for best adhesion especially if the vinyl decal lifts away from the wood during application (see step 4 for recovery from a minor error)

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