A Beginner’s Guide To Why And How To Seal Vinyl

When it comes to working with vinyl, it can be tricky to know what works best for a certain material.

The last thing you want is to have spent a lot of time applying vinyl to a bottle, only to find that it comes off in the dishwasher – sigh.

A Beginner’s Guide to Why and How to Seal Vinyl

It is no surprise then that you are going to want the vinyl to last as long as possible. Learning how to seal the vinyl is going to be the icing on the cake for you, especially because it makes vinyls last for ages.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at vinyl in more detail, and how to seal it to make vinyl last so much longer than if you didn’t seal it.

What Is Vinyl And How Is It Used?

There isn’t just one type of vinyl, but if we’re being really simple, it is basically a really thin sheet of material that is quite shiny and perhaps too flexible at times.

It can be used in two ways, either as a heat transfer or a regular adhesive. Both look the same, except they are applied differently.

Also, each one suits different material, so it is always best to choose the method that applies best.

Adhesive vinyl (which is also known as sticker vinyl) uses an adhesive which is pressure sensitive. This is similar to that of an actual sticker, because you press it down to make it stick.

There is also the heat kind (also known as a heat transfer vinyl) which transfers using a warm temperature such as that from a clothing iron. The adhesive is activated due to the heat, so it doesn’t feel sticky until it becomes warm.

The heat activated adhesive vinyl is best to be used on fabric such as a tote bag or T-shirt, whilst the sticky vinyl can be used on anything that is a hard surface.

The Differences Between Adhesive And Heat Transfer Vinyl

A Beginner’s Guide to Why and How to Seal Vinyl

There is a lot to know about vinyl, but it is also worth knowing the basics too. That means, knowing the real differences between both adhesive vinyl and heat transfer vinyl. So, let’s take a look at them in more detail:

Adhesive Vinyl

Adhesive vinyl has many types of finishes and is available in a plethora of colors. This makes it a very versatile vinyl to use, however, it always has a paper backing attached to it. Once removed, the underside is very sticky.

This means if you are planning to stick the adhesive vinyl down, you won’t have much room to maneuver it if the placement goes wrong the first time round.

Also, there is a risk of the vinyl peeling away too, so sealing it is a must if you want it to last a long time.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

If you have used a heat transfer vinyl, you will have noticed that the backing is never sticky.

In fact, it doesn’t even have a backing like an adhesive vinyl has. Instead, it has a carrier clear plastic sheet which covers the top side of the vinyl.

This sheet protects the one side of the vinyl and is the side you will likely cut on. The other side is the adhesive which doesn’t feel sticky at all.

Whilst the adhesive vinyl is quite versatile, you can only use a heat transfer vinyl of something that can withstand heat. For that reason, it isn’t as versatile.

However, you likely wouldn’t use an adhesive vinyl on something soft like a tote bag.

Which Vinyl Is Best To Use?

The project you go for all depends on the type of vinyl you use. This is because you need to think of several factors, from how long you actually want the vinyl to last, to the kind of material you are putting the vinyl onto.

Unsurprisingly there are different types of vinyl, such as one for outdoor use and one for indoor use. The outdoor vinyl can withstand tough times, such as being left outside or going through the dishwasher.

You can also get indoor removable vinyl which can be used for decals on the wall and stencils. There are also different types of finish too, from matte to shiny, and patterns too.

Whatever you need the vinyl for, take a look at what is available and choose accordingly. There is something for every product and need!

Why Should You Seal Your Vinyl Project?

A Beginner’s Guide to Why and How to Seal Vinyl

Vinyl can be an annoyance over time, especially when you see one edge of it peeling away from its surface. Once that starts, it means after a short while the rest of the design will follow.

Whilst using a seal is a good idea, in most cases, vinyl will last without ever needing to seal it at all. However, there are reasons you should seal the vinyl. For example:

  • Any item that is used in water, or that will be put through the dishwasher. Sealing it ensures that the design stays put.
  • Adding vinyl to a rough surface such as stainless steel or wood makes sure it does peel away.
  • And lastly, any items that you are using outdoors will need the vinyl to be sealed.

How Do You Seal Vinyl?

There are a few different methods of sealing vinyl. We shall look at the most common materials to seal vinyl onto, but do keep in mind that there are more ways available.

How To Seal Vinyl On Plastic

A really popular way to seal a vinyl is on a plastic cup, such as a Starbucks one. It is a really fun thing to make.

Once you have added the vinyl to the cup, you can add a sealant such as Mod Podge (which makes it dishwasher safe), or use polyurethane polyacrylic spray.

Both do a great job at sealing, but always follow the instructions.

How To Seal Vinyl On A Metal Tumbler

A metal tumbler is likely to be used often and will need washing almost daily. Because of this, the vinyl may look worse for wear quite quickly. Due to this, a sealant is often needed to preserve the look of the vinyl.

Once you have added the vinyl to the clean metal tumbler, apply a sealant (such as an epoxy) over the top in a thin coat using a paint brush. Repeat another time once the first coat is dry.

Apply as many coats as you desire, but try to avoid going overboard. Once you have added the last coat, be sure to let it dry for 24 hours before using it to make sure the vinyl is fully sealed.

Final Thoughts On Vinyl

Vinyl is a really interesting material to use for craft projects, and it is also very versatile. It can be used to add detail to household items such as bottles and wall decorations, but it can also be added to T-shirts and tote bags.

Hopefully you have learnt the basics about vinyl, and will be on your way to using it for your next project. Have fun getting creative with vinyl!

Check out the rest of our website for more interesting craft tips and tricks.

Michael Moore

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