Vinyl encompasses a wide range of materials for crafters, but among one of the most popular types is adhesive vinyl. This is often confused with printable vinyl that has an adhesive side, but they are two different products. Today we will take a closer look at the types of adhesive vinyl and how to choose the best one for your project.
What is adhesive vinyl
The first way to identify adhesive vinyl is this: it is not printable – it is cut into shapes. This is not the type of vinyl you’ll be using to make peelable stickers. Instead, adhesive vinyl comes in sheets in a variety of colors and finishes. Since it is used to form patterns, shapes, and words, it is typically cut with a machine like a CriCut® or Shiloutte then moved to its destination with transfer tape. The fusion of technology – a cutter synced with a digital application – allows for some truly impressive results.
For examples of adhesive vinyl projects, simply look around. These are the large words spelling out things like “Live, Laugh, Love” or “Family” as a decal on the wall. It’s the customized decal on the coffee mug you ordered. It’s the pattern on the canvas in your den. It’s advertising baked goods on a shop window. Adhesive vinyl has many indoor and outdoor uses and it is used widely by industry and by home crafters alike.
Thanks to the array of adhesive vinyl available and its many, many applications, you too can easily make your own projects.
Types of adhesive vinyl
There are several ways to break down adhesive vinyl. Let’s start with indoor and outdoor.
Indoor/outdoor adhesive vinyl
Indoor vinyl is for more temporary applications. The adhesive is firm but allows you to peel off the design from the wall or anywhere else you have placed it. If it is a little stubborn in removal, apply some heat (such as a hairdryer) and that should do the trick.
On the other hand, adhesive vinyl formulated for the outdoors is more permanent. It lasts for years and resists cracking and fading in the elements. Because it is formulated to stand up to exposure in shop windows, on outdoor signs, etc., it is also the better of the two types to use on washable items like coffee mugs.
The next aspect to consider with adhesive vinyl is the finish. The finish you choose will have a big impact on the final project. You have plenty to choose from including:
- Polished “metal’
- Glow in the dark
- Wood grain
- And more!
Where adhesive vinyl really shines is the array of colors available. The colors of adhesive vinyl run the spectrum and are seen across a variety of finishes. Some brands have their own colors. For example, official CriCut vinyl has item numbers to make it easier to identify for projects. However, you can get general adhesive vinyl that is suitable for a wide range of cutters. When it comes to color choice, much like the finish, simply choose what works best for the vision of your project. Do check, however, if using non-branded products in your cutter causes any warranty issues.
The thickness of adhesive vinyl can vary significantly. For example, CriCut’s premium outdoor vinyl is 0.13 mm, while its chalkboard vinyl weighs in at a heftier 0.29 mm.
When choosing the thickness of your adhesive vinyl, match it to the end goal. A thinner vinyl is going to be harder to peel off an outdoor surface, but a thicker vinyl may be desired in applications where texture is part of the design. If using a branded project, it will likely be labeled as to its best use (chalkboard, glass, dry erase, etc.) If using a general product take a look around the web to see what weights and thickness other creators are using for projects similar to yours.
A word on transfer tape
No matter which finish, color, or weight of adhesive vinyl you choose, you are going to need transfer tape. You have a choice here too.
There are many different brands of transfer tape. The Creative Folk do a wonderful job of breaking down some of the most popular on the market. The first thing to look for in your adhesive vinyl transfer tape is ease of use. This is the mechanism that ports your thin, flexible design to its destination. You need it to arrive in style!
Most transfer tape comes in rolls so you can snip off the amount you need. It’s also a good idea to choose a transfer tape with gridlines. This helps you position your creation easier on the desired surface.
You’ll also need a transfer tape that provides a good adhesion but pulls cleanly away without leaving residue on the surface.
Again, you’ll find an array of branded transfer tapes, but there are many generic ones that work just as well with a variety of weights and finishes. To save time and money and space in your crafting room, choose an all-purpose transfer tape with gridlines and make sure it comes with a squeegee for the perfect transfer every time. We also suggest using clear (with gridlines) tape. When you can see the surface through the tape, the transfer process is much easier.
To select the best adhesive vinyl for your project, first choose between indoor or outdoor vinyl. Next, choose from among the many finishes available. Further customize your project by choosing the perfect color. There are no shortages of colors and finishes from a variety of sellers in craft stores and online. Consider the thickness. Just a few millimeters make a big difference in the look, feel, and texture of the end result. Finally, select a good multi-use transfer tape that works across a variety of finishes and weights. Don’t forget the squeegee. It makes removing air bubbles and completing the transfer a breeze.
Ready to get started? Royal Elements sells printable vinyl, adhesive vinyl, and heat transfer vinyl along with transfer tape, laminating sheets, magnetic sheets, and more in our online store – and our blog has plenty of design tips. We love to see the projects you make using Royal Elements products. Post your results online with the hashtag #royalelementsstickers so we can feature your designs on our social networks (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube). Visit https://www.amazon.com/royalelements to learn more.