Surface Types for Vinyl Lettering Sticker and Decal Application

Listed here are descriptions and recommendations for applying decals on a variety of surfaces.

Painted Plasterboard, Gyprock, Drywall

Most often used in modern home construction, this cladding material might seal brick walls or may be applied to dividing walls.   Plasterboard is usually flat with a very smooth surface.
Examples:  House walls, office walls, small barrier walls, false walls  
Recommendations:  This surface is ideal for sticker application and highly recommended for wall decals. 
Cautions:  When the decal is applied to painted plasterboard that has bubbled or eroded with time, the paint may adhere to the decal when/if the decal is removed, resulting in tears to the paint surface. 

Painted Plaster Walls

This is a wall that includes a thin layer of plaster applied over brick, which is then painted.  This surface presents several challenges for applying decals, but successful application is possible with some special handling. 
Examples: Interior house walls, office walls
Expectations:Painted plaster walls have a slight texture and, although stickers and decals will adhere to them, it often takes some special handling to achieve successful results. 
Recommendations: When applying vinyl lettering, in particular, it may be necessary to hold the decal to the wall while carefully removing the transfer tape.  Once the transfer tape is removed, carefully press the lettering decal along the surface of the wall, making sure it is fitted into any uneven spaces for a secure seal.  Because there is a slight texture, it is often possible to easily lift the lettering and adjust its positioning before pressing it into place. 

Rendered Walls

Rendered walls are generally treated with special finishes, such as suede.  Purposely textured, these walls often include sweeps and patterns.  Also included in this category are plaster walls treated with special paint finishes to add texture.
Examples:  Outdoor walls, rendered walls for Mediterranean décor schemes or special effects
Recommendations: Rendered walls are unsuitable and are NOT recommended for decal application. 

Glass Surfaces 

Hard glass surfaces are completely smooth and devoid of texture.
Examples:  Windows, shower stalls, mirrors, doors, automobile windows, tabletops
Expectations: Although glass is an ideal surface, decal or sticker application on glass can be challenging.  Achieving a good seal is not difficult but ensuring that the decal looks the same from the front and back of the glass requires some care when applying the decal.  
Recommendations: Begin by cleaning the glass well, removing all residue and dirt and drying thoroughly.  Apply the decal by rolling it on smoothly, making sure that there are no bubbles forming against the surface of the glass.  Because of the hard surface of glass, bubbles or dirt under the decal will be more noticeable and more difficult to remove than those on other surfaces.

Metal Surfaces

Decal application details for metal surfaces are identical to those that apply to glass surfaces.  The surfaces are similar and recommendations are the same.  There is no need for concern about the appearance of the decal on the back of the metal.
Examples: Kitchen appliances, plaques and steel surfaces, filing cabinets, metal surfaces such as building material, automobile and motorcycle surfaces, toys.

Plastic Surfaces

Plastic surfaces fall into two categories, shaped or flat.
Examples:  storage bins, toys, drum skins, food and drink containers, shelving units
Expectations: Depending on the texture of the plastic surface, decal or sticker application has different degrees of difficulty.  For smooth plastic surfaces, such as those on soda bottles and other containers, application is relatively simple and effective.  For roughly textured plastic, such as for furniture, it is recommended that a trial should be conducted before final application.

Lacquered Wood Surfaces

Smooth, cured wood surfaces that are lacquered, or wood veneers lend themselves well to vinyl decal application.
Examples:  Finished pine furniture, floors, lacquered doors, plaques, trim 
Recommendations: If the surface has been finished recently, it is important to allow it to dry thoroughly before applying a decal, up to a week or more.  Vinyl decals can then be applied using the same technique as that used for other smooth surfaces, to ensure successful results.

Raw Timber Surfaces

Natural rough wood surfaces that are untreated are designated raw timber surfaces.
Examples: Rough hewn furniture, doors, outdoor furniture, trim
Recommendations: This surface is unsuitable and not recommended for vinyl decal application.

Fabric and Canvas Surfaces

This category includes fabric of any type that is used for any purpose, including canvas stretched across a frame to achieve a taut surface.
Examples: Silk, cotton, canvas furniture, wall hangings, deck chairs and outdoor equipment
Recommendations: Fabric is unsuitable and not recommended for vinyl decal application.  Vinyl will not adhere to fabric of any type, although if applied to stretched canvas it may adhere for a short time, and then peel.  For canvas that has been finished with lacquer, it is sometimes possible to apply a vinyl decal that will adhere to the lacquered surface.

It is our hope that this information will be of help to those choosing surfaces that will work well for vinyl decal application.  For those who are still unsure of their choices, we recommend obtaining a swatch to test prior to a final decision.

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