How to Install a Wall Decal
With a little preparation and a few tools, anybody DIYer at home can to successfully install one of our high quality vinyl wall decals. If you’ve never installed a vinyl decal before, or if you’re just looking to brush up on your skills, we highly recommend watching our installing wall decals video before installing your decal. As well, with every order we include a small test decal that you can use to learn or brush up on the install process.
Wall Decal Layers
When your decal arrives, it will consist of 3 layers. The bottom layer is a backing paper that has a waxy surface to it. The middle layer is the actual vinyl decal that is stuck onto the backing paper. The backing paper keeps the ‘sticky part’ of the vinyl decal clean and fresh until it’s ready to be installed. The third and top layer is a semi-opaque masking tape layer that is commonly referred to as the ‘transfer tape’. During installation, after the backing paper is removed, the transfer tape holds the decal together in its intended design shape until the decal is on the wall.
Step 1: Preparing the Decal
If your decal was shipped in a tube, when you first unpack it, the decal may be slightly curved and won’t lie completely flat. To flatten out the decal, let it sit on a table for a few hours so that the decal is curving downwards into the table. Also, the top layer of transfer tape might have a few wrinkles in it from shipping. Rest assured that this will not affect the quality of the final decal install. To get rid of the wrinkles, place the deckle face up on a table, and use a squeegee (or a credit card with a nice smooth edge), and lightly rub the decal, starting from middle of the decal, pusing out to the edges. Once the decal is nice and flat, you are ready to prepare for the install.
Step 2: Preparing the Wall
Vinyl decals can be placed on just about any smooth, clean surface such as painted walls, glass, metal, plastic or ceramic. A nice clean surface that is free of dust is crucial however to prevent dust from limiting the effectiveness of the adhesive on the vinyl. Before placing your decal on the wall, make sure to give it a good wipe with a lint free cloth to remove any dust. If a dry cloth isn’t enough to clean the wall, then use a wet sponge with water to clean the wall. Try not to use any cleaners if you can help it to prevent residue from forming on the wall. If you absolutely have to use cleaners, make sure to wash the wall with water afterwards to get rid of any cleaner residue. Before installing the decal, it’s important to wait for the wall to completely dry, otherwise moisture may end up getting between the wall and the decal. It can take up to 10 hours for the wall to fully dry after washing it, even if the wall feels dry to the touch sooner.
Step 3: Position on Wall
Before you remove the backing paper, it’s important to first position the decal on the wall and mark its location. Apply some painter’s tape to the top edge of the decal and then stick the decal to the wall with the tape. Use a level to make sure the decal is nice and level from side to side. If there are no straight edges on your particular design to use as a reference for the level, you can pencil a line with a ruler from the two registration marks on either side of the decal. The registration marks represent the exact middle of the design. Also make sure the decal is positioned where you want it from side to side. If you need to center the design in the middle of a wall for example, you can use the registration mark at the top of the design to help getting it right in the center of the wall.
Step 4: Marking the Location
Once the decal is taped onto the wall with painter’s tape, it’s time to mark the location of the decal so you can easily find this exact spot later. With a pencil, lightly trace the top corners of the decal on the wall. As well, draw a couple lines on the decal transfer tape that extend up onto the wall (see the picture). This will help later when actually applying the decal – all you have to do is line up those two lines again and the decal will be in the right location. Now that the decal location is marked, you can take the decal off the wall, and lay it face up on the table again.
If you’ve never installed a decal before, we highly recommend watching the videos above for the next few steps. If you can’t watch the videos because of a slow internet connection, please read the following steps carefully.
Step 5: Removing the Backing Paper
You are now ready to remove the backing paper. Flip the decal over so that the design is facing down into the table. By face down, we mean that the transfer tape is against the table surface and you can no longer see the design. You should see the back of the backing paper which is generally all white with some light manufacturer writing on. With your squeegee or credit card, lightly rub the back of the backing paper to help stick the vinyl down to the transfer tape. Once that’s complete, start by peeling up one corner of the backing paper. Once you have a flap peeled up, use one finger to hold the transfer tape down to the table while you SLOWLY peel back the backing paper with your other hand. Do this at a nice sharp angle. The goal is to peel the backing paper back, and leave the vinyl design behind stuck onto the transfer tape. DO THIS SLOWLY! As you peel back the backing paper at a sharp angle, if any vinyl lifts up along with the backing paper, slowly lower the backing paper back down, press with your finger on the back of the backing paper to ‘re-stick’ the vinyl to the tape, and then slowly lift again at a sharp angle. If you do this properly, the vinyl will stick to the transfer tape and you can continue on your way. Try not to touch the vinyl with your fingers as you may damage the adhesive on the back of the vinyl decal. Once you’ve peeled the backing paper off completely, discard the backing paper.
Step 6: Installing on Wall
If this is your first time, we recommend getting somebody else to help with this step. It is important to do this step correctly the first time to avoid damaging and potentially ruining the decal. Lift the decal up by the top corners with two hands. If you have a helper, get the helper to hold the bottom edge so that he or she is pulling the bottom outwards from the wall so that when you stick the top edge of the tape to the wall, the rest of the decal will not touch the wall. If you’re experienced with installing decals, you can also use your pinkies to push the remainder of the decal away from the wall instead of using a helper. Take the decal over to the wall, and line up the decal to the pencil marks you made earlier, without touching the wall yet. Once you’re lined up, pull the top edge nice and tight and gently stick the top two corners to the wall. Do not let the rest of the decal touch the wall yet. If you did this correctly, there should be no bubbles along the top edge. Now gently let the decal fall downwards. Using the palm of your hand start at the top middle of the decal and slowly run your palm down to the bottom middle. You should have no large bubbles if you did this right. Now start at the top middle again and move outwards towards the edges to smooth the decal to the wall. Hopefully at this point you’ve got a nice smooth decal on the wall! To finish the process, take your squeegee or credit card and rub over over the vinyl design to stick it nicely to the wall.
Step 7: Removing the Transfer Tape
Now that the decal is completely stuck to the wall, start by peeling up one corner of the transfer tape. The goal is to peel back the transfer tape and leave behind the decal on the wall. Much like when you peeled back the backing paper earlier, peel the transfer tape slowly at a sharp angle. As you pull back over the design, the vinyl should stay stuck to the wall. If it lifts up with the tape, slowly lower the tape back down, use your finger to push on the transfer tape to stick the vinyl back down to the wall, then slowly pull back the transfer tape at a sharp angle to release the vinyl and leave it behind on the wall. Continue this processes until the tape is completely removed and the vinyl decal is left behind on the wall. If you are having a lot of trouble removing the tape without lifting up the vinyl, you can try moistening the tape with a wet sponge. Let the tape soak for a minute, and then try peeling back the tape again. Moistening the tape will usually cause the adhesive on the tape to release a little easier. PLEASE NOTE: Try not to get any water behind the tape. You want to wet the tape and not the vinyl itself!
Step 8: Second Decal (Optional)
If your decal came in two parts, you can now repeat the process above to install the second decal. On two part decals, there will be registration marks on both pieces that you can use to line up the two decals perfectly.
Step 9: Finishing Up
Now that your decal is fully installed, you can gently remove the registration marks on the edges from the wall. You’re done! Great work!