How to Make Vinyl Stickers: Easy Steps to Use at Home

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Vinyl Stickers make an excellent alternative to regular stickers because they are more versatile, waterproof, and customizable. They are a perfect way to customize how your things look as you can stick them on different things like car windows, glasses, or cups, and they will last. The most significant advantage of using and making vinyl stickers is that they don't cost a lot, and they are easy to make in the comfort of your home.

People make vinyl stickers in two different ways:

  • Cutting out decals from a patterned vinyl sheet or a solid colored vinyl sheet with an adhesive backside
  • Or you can print your design idea or use someone's from your computer to the vinyl paper using a printer like an inkjet printer.

With the right tools and equipment for the job, DIY vinyl decals are easy to make. You will need:

1. Understanding Print Vinyl

Printable Vinyl could sound complicated; on the contrary, it is easy to make in a few steps. It is based on the same concept as using your desktop printer and paper. You can print on vinyl to get a sticker that looks professional and attention-grabbing.

Unfortunately, this process only works with print vinyl since regular vinyl doesn't take the ink; instead, it runs off the page. You could lay six different vinyl colors on the transfer tape to get a brilliant sticker, but the process is tedious. The print vinyl readily accepts the print to give excellent results.

Using printable vinyl will save time and energy since you won't have to weed out the inside of letters and object centers. So, you'll have enough flexibility to make stickers of cartoon characters or animal images. The printable vinyl provides a wider range of color effects that provide intricate details that typical adhesive vinyl can't produce, like watercolor and shading

2. Things You’ll Need

A cutting machine, an inkjet printer, an Adhesive vinyl, Expressions vinyl, Templates, Razor Blade, Sketching paper, Cutting mat/Ruler, Application tool, Vinyl laminate

3. Prepare and Print your Design

The first step to do is find your favorite design or logo sticker, which you can find ideas online. You can also cut your desired sticker designs from any printed materials like paper or magazine and ensure you always check if your chosen design is free to use or copyright protected.

If you would like to draw your design, you can either draw the design using your hand or use image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. If you use your hand to draw your designs, you have to scan them to send a high-resolution photo to our computer. Whether you are drawing your design or selecting an image online, always remember your vinyl sticker's size to paste your custom sticker and what size will work the best.

4. Select and Place your Vinyl

As much as vinyl, in general, is an excellent material, there are various variations of adhesive vinyl available. Ensure you go for a wrap, static cling, high tack rolled, or conformable vinyl if you want a printed type with a high-performance guarantee. But if you are cutting out the sticker, the cut vinyl is ideal as it will provide you with average to high performance.

Since expressions vinyl paper is not cheap, minimize the wastage because, especially for a vinyl sticker business, every coin counts, and blank spaces will stick cost you. Place your designs to leave the minimal space, and run a print preview to see how the printed sheet will look. This is a vital step because it allows you to make any last-minute changes before you print.

5. Test Print

Once you have placed everything on one page, you should print the design by first test printing on regular paper. A test print will allow you to see if your positioning is correct and what side of the vinyl sheets your design will be printed on, and this is important because it is crucial to print designs on the right side.

You can make a pencil or pen mark on any side of your sheet to know which side the printer will print on. Once you are done with the test print, check whether the sticker design will be printed on the marked side or not, and this will ensure you know which side would be facing up when printing.

6. Print your Sticker Paper

Once you confirm the printer setting, place the vinyl paper with the correct part facing upwards, hit the print button, and print on vinyl. If the ink is not sticking to your paper, you probably have printed it on the wrong side. Turn the page and reprint the design on the right side of the sheet.

7. Apply your Vinyl Laminate

This is an optional step to increase your custom decals' durability and extend the use, especially for outdoor uses. To apply the laminate, peel a small part of the laminate adhesive backside and line up the top edge of the sticker to the top edge of the laminate paper. Once you have pasted and aligned, peel back the adhesive and then use a squeegee to press the laminate down.

Pressing the laminate paper down prevents any air bubble from getting trapped.

8. Cut your Unwanted Spaces on your Vinyl Decals

This is almost the last step of making your custom stickers, and you get to add some finishing touches to this step. For this step, you will need a hobby knife, a ruler, and a razor.

Place your printed vinyl sheet on a flat surface and place your ruler where you need to cut the sticker to cut off any unwanted spaces. The ruler will help you manage more of a perfect and even cut. Scissors may not be the best to use because they create a lot of unevenness and variance.

Another method to cut your decals is to use your vinyl cutter and place your vinyl sheet on a cutting mat and feed it into your Cricut. Set the appropriate cut settings, line the mat with arrows on the left, and then hit on the touchscreen load's right. Send the file to cut, and the machine will ensure the decal is cut around the edges of your stickers.

9. Peel Off the Sticker

As usual, the last steps of any tutorial are usually the simplest. Peel your DIY decal off and stick them to something of your choice and smoothen out the sticker using your application tool to ensure no air bubbles or wrinkles remain. The stickers can be used on glasses, water bottles, or even outdoors.

How to Make Vinyl Stickers by Hand

1. Things You’ll Need

You'll need a couple of items before we begin to make the custom stickers.

  • A sticker design
  • A cutting knife
  • A cutting surface
  • Colored adhesive vinyl
  • Tweezers
  • Scotch tape
  • Transfer tape Scissors

2. Create the Design

Use the software of your choice to invent a creative design that you want for your vinyl sticker. You have a lot of freedom in this step since you can search through as many ideas as necessary. After getting the design, determine the size you want and leave a margin of about half an inch and print the design.

3. Securing the Image to the Vinyl

Cut a vinyl piece about an inch larger than the design and tape it to your cutting surface. It's unnecessary to tape vinyl if it's not very curly since it will be easier to manipulate.

Make sure to crop out any large empty spaces in the center of the design. With several anchor points, the paper will not move about as you cut the print.

4. Cut the Vinyl

This is the hard part of making custom decals by hand since you can experience fatigue. That is why patience is crucial to your success if you want to make excellent DIY vinyl decals. If the design on the vinyl paper is detailed, start by rounding the corners and leaving the edges and other details for later.

Unfortunately, you'll have to start with the insides of the letters or numbers. Overlap the cut lines on areas like corners to close any gaps to make the process smooth. If you accidentally cut the digits, you can repair them by taping the back.

5. Picking Out the Pieces

Ensure you cut the border into several sections if you have a complex design. If you made the cuts accurately, you have nothing to worry about; start picking the outside pieces first. Once you have your design, trim the edges and smoothen out the lines to get an excellent sticker.

6. Adding the Transfer Tape

Place the decal flat on a leveled surface and avoid distorting it. Unfortunately, transfer tape has a lot of static electricity, which is why you need to fasten the custom vinyl stickers to your work surface.

Roll the tape, follow with your fingers to ensure it is flush. Then trim the tape to about half an inch from the decal and leave an overlapping end to help you with placement later.

7. Applying it To the Surface

Ensure the place you want to position the vinyl stickers is clean. Place it on and secure the tape overlap, which should be large enough to hold the cut vinyl securely as you remove the backing.

Press the vinyl firmly and ensure it adheres well to the surface, and voila! You have completed making vinyl stickers.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it a must you use the Inkjet printers, or can you use a laser printer?

This depends on the label on the printable vinyl, which says you should only use inkjet, but some say the laserjet printer prints quite okay for their projects. You can attempt using the Laser but make sure you use a laminate layer to protect your print job.

2. Do I need a transfer tape to make vinyl stickers?

With printable vinyl stickers, you don't need a transfer tape because the designs have a straightforward outline, and you can easily peel them and apply them using your hand. However, if you are using a regular adhesive, you will need a transfer tape to transfer the vinyl decal. 

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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