How to Apply a Wall Sticker - Quick & Easy Method
Essentially, installing your vinyl wall sticker/decal is the process of transferring it from the backing paper onto the wall surface in one go. Sounds easy right? Well, it actually is when you follow our simple step-by-step guide.
In this guide we're going to show you how to prepare your wall surface, what problems might occur and how to avoid them, how to transfer your sticker in one go quickly and easily and how to remove the sticker without damaging the surface.
So, let's get started:
How to Apply a Wall Sticker Video
Please watch this video to get the best results when installing your wall sticker, it's also highly recommended to read through all of the information below
Prepare the Wall Surface
Our self-adhesive wall stickers will stick to most flat, smooth surfaces but will have trouble adhering to a surface that is too rough/textured or porous.
If you have recently decorated please leave the paint to dry until it has fully cured (we recommend at least 3-4 weeks depending on drying conditions) Outgassing from drying paint will prevent the vinyl sticker from forming a proper bond with the surface.
If the wall has been painted with an washable, low VOC or silk paint then the sticker may have trouble adhering to the wall so it's best to either lightly sand the area to form a key or apply a thin coat of clear coat varnish/watered down PVA to form a layer the sticker can adhere to.
Before starting the installation we're going to clean the wall with a damp cloth or wipe - it may sound unnecessary but in actual fact any dirt or residue on the wall could affect application of the sticker. Once you've cleaned the area where you want to apply your decal leave it until it's dry.
Also it's best to clear the area of anything that might get in the way of the installation process (sofas, furniture etc)
Prepare the Wall Sticker
The sticker will come rolled in a sturdy postal tube, this is great for transportation but not for storage - it's best to remove the sticker from the tube and lay it on a flat surface once you get it. Obviously, this just isn't possible for people who don't have a lot of storage space or aren't going to install the sticker straight away. In this case we recommend unrolling the sticker the day before and laying it on a flat surface with weights to help it flatten out. Books are great to use for weights, you don't want to use anything too heavy or with rigid edges that could damage the sticker.
It's also best to store the sticker at room temperature, once again if this just isn't possible make sure the sticker is kept at room temperature for around 24 hours before you begin installation. Vinyl works best at room temperature and you may find it uncooperative if it's too cold.
The Layers of the Sticker
The wall sticker comes with 3 layers:
- the bottom layer is the backing paper - this can be identified by the text/lines on the back and waxy coating on the front
- the middle layer is the self-adhesive vinyl wall sticker
- the top layer is the transfer paper - this layer is semi-transparent and has a hi-tack adhesive used to pick the sticker from the backing paper
Position the Sticker on the Wall
For this step you will need either a roll of masking tape or painters tape (or any low-tack tape that can be used to temporarily stick the decal in position without damaging the surface when removed)
Add a tab of masking tape to the top corners of the sticker (add more tabs for larger stickers if needed to hold them up) and place it on the wall where you want it. You can use a tape measure to accurately line the sticker up or what I tend to prefer is step right back and line it up by eye. As with some rooms the walls, floors and ceilings aren't completely level and if it looks right by eye when you're lining it up then it'll look right once it's fully installed.
Note: It's important to make sure the sticker is lined up correctly before you stick it on as you won't be able to reposition it later.
Once you're happy with the position use 2 tabs of masking tape on the wall (one on either side of the sticker) and line them up with the top. This will be your guide for lining the sticker back up on the wall later.
Remove the Backing Paper
Take the sticker off the wall and remove the masking tape (don't remove the tabs on the wall though!) as you won't need it. Lay it on a flat surface with the backing paper face up and use a squeegee or credit card to rub over the sticker. This will encourage the sticker to come away with the transfer paper.
Now take a corner of the backing paper and peel it slowly and carefully back.
Note: It's very important to do this part carefully as the sticker must stay on the transfer paper.
Use an acute angle (so the sticker is almost folded back on itself) and roll it away from the transfer paper. For any stubborn vinyl that tries to stay on the backing paper use a finger to press it firmly back down onto the transfer paper and continue rolling the backing paper away.
Once you have fully removed the backing paper put it to one side where it can be disposed of later.
Installation on the Wall
Now holding the transfer paper by the top corners, line it up with the two tabs of masking tape you left on the wall, once you have it in the correct position press the corners onto the wall and then use the flat of your hand or a squeegee (credit card) to carefully smooth the top of the transfer paper onto the wall.
Now using overlapping strokes make your way down the sticker going left then right until all of the transfer paper has been stuck down. To make sure the sticker bonds properly with the wall go over it with a squeegee or credit card.
If the wall has a mild texture you can use your hand to firmly press the sticker down so it follows the shape of the wall. It's important to make sure as much of the adhesive makes contact as possible.
Give the Adhesive Time to Bond
Leave the sticker for 30 mins to give the adhesive time to form a bond with the wall. This will reduce the amount the sticker tries to come away with the transfer paper when you remove it.
Remove the Transfer Paper
Just like removing the backing paper (above) take a corner of the transfer paper and slowly and carefully peel it back on itself. Once again use an acute angle for best results. If any of the vinyl decal tries to come away with the transfer paper pop it firmly back down with your finger until it stays and continue.
Once the transfer paper has been completely removed you may dispose of it as it is no longer needed.
All that's left to do now is to remove the two tabs of masking tape left on the wall and it's finished. Congratulations you now have a beautiful feature wall!
Helpful Hints & Tips
The best piece of advice when applying a wall sticker is just to take your time with it. This will achieve the best results.
Make sure everything is in place or near at hand before you start and with the larger stickers it's very handy to have another person helping you.
Stay calm. In the eventuality that something does go wrong we may be able to help you fix it. There's a troubleshooting section you can check below or get in touch with us. We're here to help.
Don't Panic! Vinyl can be uncooperative at times and even the best of us can have difficulty installing a sticker from time to time. Here's a list of things that can go wrong with your sticker and solutions on how to fix them as quickly and easily as possible:
- Air bubbles - this is usually caused by specs of dirt on the wall or accidentally trapping air when the sticker is smoothed onto the surface. The solution is to prick the air bubble with a pin (on the edge of the bubble is best, not the center). Now carefully smooth the vinyl down towards the hole. The air should escape through the hole and the vinyl should flatten nicely. You'll barely be able to see the hole once it's done.
- Wrinkles and creases - usually caused in the application process by not smoothing the vinyl down properly. The solution is to gently heat the creased vinyl and then carefully smooth it down with a squeegee/credit card. Be careful not to go overboard with the hairdryer!
- Vinyl lifting off - if it's just a small section of vinyl that's coming away from the surface it's usually the case that it just hasn't been rubbed against the surface properly and hasn't been able to form a bond. Use a hairdryer or heat gun to very gently heat the vinyl - this will reactivate the adhesive. Then carefully smooth the vinyl back down onto the surface. Rub over the top then leave the adhesive to form a bond. If this doesn't work you can try using a dab of Pritt Stick or wallpaper paste.
- Sticker completely falls off the wall. In most cases this is caused by trying to apply the vinyl to a recently decorated wall. The outgassing from drying paint prevents the adhesive from forming a bond with the wall and the weight of the sticker pulls it off. Usually this will render the sticker unusable and you will have to re-purchase and wait for the paint to dry properly before you install it again.
Any other problems please contact us and we'd be happy to help you find a solution.
Caring for your Wall Sticker
Once bonded with the wall your sticker should be very firmly in place however you shouldn't subject it to extreme temperatures (hot or cold) as it may affect the adhesive and the lifespan of the decal itself.
To clean the sticker you can use a damp cloth/wipe and lightly go over it - do not soak with hot water or scrub it as this could cause it to lift or damage it.
Removing your Wall Sticker
To remove the sticker gently heat the vinyl with a hairdryer, the heat will reactivate the glue and cause the bond between the vinyl and the surface to temporarily loosen. Carefully peel back the vinyl away from the surface. Be careful not to burn yourself with the hairdryer/heat gun when you do this.
Once removed the sticker will not be re-usable.
Help Something Went Wrong What Can I Do?
It's fair to say that even with the best of intentions things can go wrong, so if something goes wrong with your wall sticker installation then please contact us with photos of the issue and we would be happy to try and help you resolve the problem or arrange a discount for you to repurchase it.
While all the information above is correct to the best of our knowledge and is provided with the intention of helping our customers the application of the sticker is the sole responsibility of the customer. We at Apex Stickers bear no accountability in the event that damage is caused to the sticker or surface, or any harm is caused to the customer during the process.