What is Cut vinyl, and how do I install it?
Vinyl is a great way to advertise business hours, show customers new products and services, add your logo, and much more! This material will last up to 3-5 years outdoor and more extended if installed inside. In addition, vinyl comes in many different styles and colors that can be made to fit your needs!
Window lettering used to be painted by hand, and if you weren’t skilled with a paintbrush,
you’d need to hire
someone who was. On the other hand, Custom Cut Vinyl is faster and easier to use, and the final result looks
more consistent and professional. Continue reading to learn how to properly install it yourself!
Disclaimer* This article is written for people who are new to installing vinyl. You take responsibility for your own mistakes.
Tools (Some necessary & some not, use your best judgment)
- Your fresh, ready to apply Cut Vinyl: Purchase here
- A tape measure
- Some Painters tape (2” wide is best)
- A T-square or straight edge
- Level or laser level if you have one
- Fine tip marker or pen
- A ladder if the vinyl placement is higher than yourself
- A squeegee / Applicator (make sure it has a firm bend and is made from plastic, not rubber). Here is a link for the type we will be using in the tutorial
- Spray bottle with ¾ water and ¼ dish soap or application fluid
Step 1: Find Placement
First, let’s grab our vinyl and lay it on a table with the masking paper face up. Use a t-square or straight edge to create a straight line across the vinyl on the masking paper to create a line we can level the vinyl from. Next, hold up your vinyl and determine where you would like it to be placed on your window. Once you have decided on placement, use tape on the edges of the masking paper to tack the vinyl down. A general tip for store hours and logo: Place it at an average eye level to capture people’s attention. Try not to put it too high or too low.
Step 2: Align and Level the Vinyl
Once the vinyl is in a good position, it is time to level it. Grab your tape measure or level. Use these tools to adjust your vinyl until you are satisfied. You can use the measuring tape to measure the sides of the vinyl against the window’s edges or use the guideline created in Step 1 and a leveling tool. Adjust your piece of vinyl with the taped edges until it is perfect. Once everything is perfect, grab your painter's tape and put one long piece along the top edge connecting it to your application. In this case, we are applying to a window. You are now ready for Step 3.
Step 3: Time to apply it!
There are two ways to install, wet or dry. Installing vinyl wet or dry both have their advantages. Installing with soapy water can be more forgiving for windows, cars, and applications that are not porous. If you start seeing vinyl move where you don’t want it, you can simply pick it back up and place it where it needs to be with it still on the masking paper. Installing wet can also be beneficial for bigger cut vinyl and vinyl prints. Installing it dry requires more confidence, is usually quicker, and can have a better-looking result. But it is not very forgiving if there are mistakes. Below, I will talk about installing both ways.
Installing with Soap and water
1. Clean and prep your application
- First, take your water and soap or install fluid and use a nice paper towel or microfiber towel to clean the area. Then, give a generous spray where the vinyl will go.
2. Place and align the vinyl.
- Next, start peeling off the backing paper on the vinyl and give a few good sprays on the tacky side before laying it down on the glass. Make sure to keep it taught when placing it on the glass. Also, be sure to double-check the alignment of the vinyl and make sure it is still good.
3. Start Squeegeeing!
- Now grab your squeegee and start at the top of the vinyl. Use a firm grip and pressure with about a 45-90 degree angle perpendicular to your application. ( Not to much pressure to where your hand hurts ) Move left to right or vice versa, whatever is more comfortable for you.
- Note *
If your vinyl is wider than tall (long text script or stripe), it might be best to divide it in the center and start squeegeeing out toward the end. Squeegeeing up and down ( Instead of left to right ).
- I like to start in the middle and squeegee out to the edges making my way down the vinyl. Try to overlap your last stroke by about a quarter and continue with enough pressure to squeeze out all water and bubbles.
- When finished, look over your work and check for bubbles. If there are any, squeegee them out. Once finished, let it dry and peel off the masking material from one of the top corners, and voila! Your new vinyl is looking beautiful!
Installing cut vinyl dry.
- First, I like to take the bottom of the vinyl and roll it up to the top. This helps me have a good grip to keep it taught and easy access to start peeling the vinyl backing off.
- Next, start peeling the paper or plastic backing off while keeping the vinyl off the glass until you are ready to squeegee. Let the backing material lay on the glass as a buffer between the sticky side and the glass.
- Finally, start to squeegee left to right or vice versa from the middle top and have medium to hard pressure as you squeegee down. Make sure to overlap your previous pass about a quarter or half to keep it consistent. If you start getting close to the backing, pause squeegeeing and pull the backing off more. Then repeat the process until you have gone down the vinyl.
Check over your work.
If you have used good pressure and overlapped each pass, you should not have any bubbles or wrinkles in the vinyl. Congrats! You have just installed vinyl to your window. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back!
Thank you so much for reading! If you liked these tips or have any other personal knowledge on this subject, feel free to leave a comment below and help people that might be having trouble!