As a DIY crafter that uses adhesive vinyl, did you know you need a middleman? No, not the type of “middleman” that gets your projects to market – the type that gets adhesive vinyl projects from the cutting mat to the wall, tumbler, car, or wherever they are destined. Nothing ruins a great design faster than picking at the edges to transfer it or placing lettering with incorrect spacing. All this can be avoided with one extra step – transfer tape for adhesive vinyl.
What is adhesive vinyl and why should you pair it with transfer tape?
Adhesive vinyl is colorful, patterned, or textured sheets used to create durable designs. This type of vinyl is not printable. Instead, it is cut out (usually with the assistance of a machine like the Cricut® or Silhouette) for intricate designs such as wall murals, furniture embellishment, vehicle signs, décor, etc.
As you can imagine, some designs get very fancy. Delicate leaves on trees, swirling fonts, abstract designs or non-jointed lettering/elements – how does one get a design like that from the cutter to its final destination? This is why transfer tape for adhesive vinyl is so important. By simply placing the tape over the design, you can transport it in its entirety, line it up, and place it in one go. Thanks to transfer tape for adhesive vinyl, you never have to move each individual letter, accidentally tear through the thinnest part of your design when trying to pick it up, or spend hours fussing with a level and ruler to space lettering properly across a door. Simply use transfer tape to pick up and move the entire design.
A closer look at transfer tape for adhesive vinyl
Transfer tape typically comes in rolls of various sizes and is categorized into two types: paper and plastic.
Paper transfer tape is soft, porous, and has a waterslide quality that allows for better repositioning of the design before the final adherence. It’s a good entry-level tape that works for most projects, but unlike plastic transfer tape, it isn’t overly transparent. The lack of transparency in paper transfer tape is its main downfall since the purpose of the product is to move and place designs with precision. When you can’t see the design through the tape, it’s much harder to get a perfect end result.
Plastic transfer tape, on the other hand, easily solves this issue. It is clearly (heh, see what we did there?) the easier choice for transferring adhesive vinyl because you can see exactly how your design is going to look before you remove the tape. No guessing is involved. One thing to watch out for with clear tape, however, is static. Unlike paper transfer tape, plastic tapes can attract dust, lint and pet hair. Dust or wipe down your work surface before using plastic transfer tape so you don’t wind up with hair or debris in your final design.
Both paper and clear transfer tapes come in a variety of tackiness, but plastic tape tends to have a lower adhesive level than paper tape. Despite this, the nature of plastic tape can make it cling aggressively to vinyl, so a steady and patient hand is needed to slowly remove the transfer.
Whether you choose paper or plastic transfer tape really comes down to preference, but here at Royal Elements we lean towards plastic because we find it gives your project a much better final result. There are great plastic transfer tapes for adhesive vinyl that are reusable while also being formulated for glossy, matte, chrome, opal, holographic, glitter, and other types of vinyl finishes. Our transfer tape even comes with a pre-marked grid so not only can you see your design as you move it, you can line it up perfectly too.
Step by step instructions for using transfer tape for adhesive vinyl
To use transfer tape for adhesive vinyl, do the following:
- Create your design using high-quality adhesive vinyl.
- Cut out your design.
- Unspool a length of transfer tape to see how much you need to cover your design. Allow some room around the edges so you can move and peel off the tape with ease.
- If your design is large, cut equal lengths of transfer tape so you can move it in two or more batches.
- Remove the protective layer and gently but firmly press the transfer tape (adhesive side down) over your design.
- Remove bubbles by gently using a squeegee to smooth out the tape over the design.
- As you peel your transfer tape off the cutting mat, your vinyl design will be adhered to it.
- Move the tape with the design on it to its desired location. Press firmly and squeegee to remove any air bubbles.
- Gently peel away the transfer tape. Your design is now at its final destination.
Troubleshooting common transfer tape issues
As with any project, there can be some common issues. We’ve listed them here so you can avoid them and get the results you need.
Wrinkling and folding
To prevent wrinkling and folding in your adhesive vinyl or your transfer tape, ensure you are working on a flat and/or smooth surface. If your design is large, transfer it in batches rather than trying to struggle with several feet of transfer tape. Avoid working near sources of air such as a vent, fan, or a window on a breezy day. Nothing ruins a design faster than adhesive transfer tape folding in on itself.
A few bubbles are normal, which is why we include a squeegee with every roll of transfer tape. Remove bubbles by slowly moving the squeegee from the middle to the outer edges.
Delicate designs can tear if the tape is removed too quickly, or if you try to weed them after they are already in place. Weeding is removing excess vinyl, such as the hollowing out of letters or filigree. For example, think of a doily or spiderweb. What looks better, one sheet on a wall with a spiderweb pattern or a delicate doily or web that shows no vinyl in between the strands? Weeding carefully removes the excess vinyl so only the design remains.
As you can imagine, transferring such a delicate doily or web can easily lead to tearing if you are not careful. Do your weeding on the cutting mat, then after transferring, squeegee and remove the tape very, very slowly. Use your fingers to guide the tape away in a slow, fluid motion and avoid jerking or pulling sharply.
Clear tape can stick a little too firmly to adhesive vinyl. If you are constantly fighting with plastic transfer tape to release your design, look into a lower tack, or even paper options. Remember, however, that clear transfer tape makes it much easier to place and line up your design. You may have to experiment with a couple types of tapes and vinyl to get the result you need. For example, a glittered adhesive vinyl may work better with a lower tack transfer tape than a matte vinyl. It will all come down to the brand and type of materials you are using. Most tapes/vinyl are compatible, but in some cases you may need to experiment to get the best result.
Popular projects that involve transfer tape for adhesive vinyl
Need inspiration for your projects? There are so many ways you can use adhesive vinyl and transfer tape!
- Why hand paint a tricky vintage pattern onto a restored chest of drawers when you can print, cut, and transfer it instead?
- Give your kid’s room a little more personality with customized murals and their name on the door.
- Create your own décor and be your own interior decorator by making signs and pictures. Vinyl clings to wood, glass, paint, etc., so you can easily upgrade mirrors, make rustic cabin-inspired décor, customize your coffee cups, and so much more.
- Run a small business? Forget paper signs. From indicating where the washrooms are to labelling the reception desk, you can customize your own wayfaring with just a printer, adhesive vinyl, and transfer tape.
- Want a cool decal for your car? It’s adhesive vinyl and transfer tape to the rescue! Make a stick family, design a family crest, or do whatever you fancy to give your ride a little more personality.
Transfer tape for adhesive vinyl is the middle step between creating and placing your design. Adhesive vinyl is designed to work with transfer tape to give you that seamless, intricate look you want. Thanks to weeding (and a little time and patience to slowly transfer your design) you never have to be content with a large sheet of sticky paper with a design on it. You can enjoy individually placed elements with a zero-backing look on your walls, car, doors, glass, mugs, and so much more. Paper transfer tape is low cost and easy to work with, but it is not clear, which makes placing your design a challenge. Plastic transfer tape yields much crisper results since you can easily see your design and how it will look at its final point. Be sure to work in a clean, non windy environment to keep the transfer tape free of debris and wrinkles. Using transfer tape is quick and easy. Simply design, print, cut, and transfer. Common issues such as bubbles and tearing are easily solved by using compatible adhesive vinyl and tape, using a squeegee, and working slowly and carefully. There are so many fun projects you can do at home or at work using adhesive vinyl and transfer tape! Try some today and have fun!
Royal Elements has adhesive vinyl, clear plastic transfer tape, and more in our online store. 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 and https://www.royalelements.com/ today to learn more.