A guide to applying a vinyl sticker to make it last
Peeling and applying a sticker might not seem like rocket science but there are some tricks and considerations to ensure a long-lasting application.
Choose a location
Will your sticker be applied to an indoor or outdoor surface? Answer this question before you purchase your sticker so you know what kind of quality and material to look for.
For indoor surfaces, uncoated or paper-based stickers are great. These are a more natural looking sticker and are great for surfaces that won’t be exposed to water or heavy sunlight. Some examples being laptops, notebooks, gifts, or envelopes.
For outdoor surfaces, choose a coated sticker preferably with a UV coating. This coating protects your sticker (and artwork) from the elements. The UV coating will further protect the sticker colour from fading away under the sun. These are great for surfaces like cars, boats, camper trailers, and waterbottles but can also be used for indoor surfaces – if you so choose.
Choosing Sticker Adhesive Type
The “stick” of every sticker varies from company to company. Most adhesives fall into these categories; Repositionable adhesive, semi-permanent adhesive, or permanent adhesive.
Repositionable means you can apply the sticker temporarily to a surface and remove it with no leftover adhesive to clean up. You could also readjust and reapply if needed. Keep in mind, these types of stickers can lend themselves to falling off, peeling, or curling over time and multiple reuse. They may also not reapply well to / from paper surfaces.
Semi-permanent means your sticker will be a little more difficult to remove than the repositionable sticker and might leave a bit of residue behind.
Permanent adhesive means they’ll stick REALLY well once adhered. When you’re ready to remove it, you will need to spend some time removing the sticker and the residue from where the sticker had been stuck. Don’t worry though. Residue is relatively easy to remove with a little elbow grease.
Removing Old Stickers
Speaking of, you might want to consider getting rid of old stickers that are so faded, cracked, and peeled, you don’t recognize them anymore. Or maybe you want to eventually remove the ones you purchase today, down the road at some point if you’re looking to sell your car or trade in that laptop.
Knowing how to remove them, will ensure the surface they’re on stays in tact and ready for the next set of fresh new stickers.
Before attempting the steps below, please test a small area first. Keep in mind these steps won’t work on softer or porous surfaces.
1. Warm up sticker by fanning a blow dryer 3” away, or by placing a hot, damp cloth over it for 1 minute.
2. Once sticker has softened, pull up as best you can using your fingers or a plastic credit card.
3. To clean remaining residue, use a 2-to-1 mix of olive oil and baking soda until you get a paste. Or try a “goo” removal product, ensuring you follow instructions.
4. Apply to residue and let stand for 1 minute.
5. Rub around on residue until it starts to peel up.
6. Clean area with mild soap and damp cloth to remove any remaining film.
7. Dry thoroughly.
Cleaning the surface to apply your sticker
Alright! You know exactly where your sticker is going, have purchased one you want to apply, and removed all the old ones that might be there already.
To apply your sticker:
1. Clean the surface with mild dish soap and warm water to remove dirt or grease.
2. Rinse and dry surface thoroughly.
3. Peel & stick.
Applying large stickers to a car or trailer
For large bumper stickers, apply the sticker from left to right (or visa versa) as opposed to the middle to prevent wrinkling or air bubbles. Use a plastic credit card to smooth and apply as you work your way down to the end.