One of the best things about stainless steel tumblers is that you can customize them, either with regular stickers or with your very own vinyl designs.
The latter in particular is a great way to give your tumbler a bit of personality, especially if it’s a unique design you’ve created yourself.
The following article will break down all you need to know about sealing vinyl on tumblers, including the best kinds of vinyl for stainless steel, and how to effectively apply vinyl to tumblers.
What Kind Of Vinyl Is Best For Tumblers?
You have a choice between two different kinds of vinyl: indoor vinyl (which is also referred to as removable vinyl), and outdoor vinyl (which is also referred to as permanent vinyl).
Some brands will call their vinyl indoor or outdoor, while other brands will call their vinyl removable or permanent.
If you’re adhering vinyl to a tumbler, you’re going to want it to remain stuck to the tumbler for as long as possible, meaning the best option will be permanent vinyl.
This kind of vinyl is also far more resistant to water than the alternative.
It’s worth bearing in mind that while outdoor vinyl is generally very adhesive, it can still be peeled from a tumbler if exposed to high temperatures.
So, if you’re going to be adhering permanent vinyl to your tumbler (or to anything else), never put it in the dishwasher or the microwave.
When it comes to the actual vinyl decal you’re going to be adhering to, it’s best to go with thicker designs. Decals made up of thin lines are less likely to stay in place over long periods.
Most of the eventual problems people tend to have vinyl are due to the decal being too thin.
Your decal doesn’t need to cover your entire tumbler, but the more surface area the better.
If you’re making your design for a vinyl decal and it includes text, consider making the font you’re using bold, as even this small change could add some longevity to your decal.
Do You Need to Seal Vinyl To Tumblers?
The length of time your vinyl remains properly adhered to your tumbler will depend on a few different factors, including the vinyl’s brand (and therefore the vinyl’s quality), the quality of the surface it’s stuck to, and the kinds of conditions it’s been subjected to.
While in a lot of cases your vinyl will survive for many years when you’ve never even thought to seal it, this is less likely if you’re taking your tumbler with unsealed vinyl outside frequently, and exposing it to rain.
It’s worth remembering, though, that your tumbler is going to be getting wet regardless of where you take it (unless you’re just never using it, but this guide would be a lot shorter if we assumed that were the case).
Everything that’s going to be getting wet, including tumblers, plates, and cups, as well as rough surfaces, will require sealant if you’re going to adhere vinyl.
It’s a common misconception that all kinds of vinyl should not be exposed to sealant because they require room to breathe. This isn’t true at all, though. You can use sealant on all vinyl without any problems.
The only problem you might encounter is the vinyl shrinking a little after a long period of exposure to the sealant.
This would only happen to low-quality vinyl, though, and would be no fault of the sealant itself. Besides, you shouldn’t be adhering low-quality vinyl to your tumbler anyway.
With vinyl from a reputable manufacturer and a strong sealant, you’re not going to have any issues sealing your vinyl to your tumbler.
How To Apply A Vinyl Decal To A Tumbler
The first thing you’re going to want to do before applying your vinyl to your tumbler is making sure the tumbler is clean. Use rubbing alcohol for the best possible results.
This will work better than just using soap because it will more effectively get rid of any residue or grease on the tumbler that might have impeded the vinyl’s ability to adhere. Next, fully dry your tumbler.
Once you’ve prepared your tumbler and you’ve prepared your decal (meaning it’s been cut and you’ve weeded out the pieces you don’t want in the final design), apply some transfer tape to the vinyl.
The paper backing should still be in position at this stage.
Position your decal in the exact place you want to stick it. The best way to do this is via the hinge method; run some painter’s tape down the middle of the design so it’s properly secured to the tumbler.
Next, peel one-half of your transfer paper from the decal, cutting off the backing while you hold the rest of the transfer paper.
Pull-on the transfer paper until it’s straight, and then carefully place it down against the tumbler. Rub the vinyl until you’re sure it’s fully adhered, and then take off the tape.
Once the decal is where you want it to be, peel the other side of your paper backing from the vinyl. Pull it until it’s taut before carefully laying it down. Then make it as smooth as possible with your fingers.
Now that you’ve rubbed down your decal, peel away your transfer tape, and your vinyl decal will now be firmly adhered to the tumbler for (with any luck) years to come.
How To Seal Vinyl On Your Tumbler
The best kind of sealant for sealing your vinyl to your tumbler is epoxy resin, which you’ll find on Amazon or at most local hardware stores.
It’s a type of sealant that has several different purposes and is the best choice when working with both vinyl and stainless steel.
The purpose of the sealant in this context is to protect your decal, thus increasing the longevity of said decal on your tumbler.
There are more than one type of epoxy resin on the market, and viscosity and curing time can vary, but the product we linked would be ideal because it’s a heavy-duty sealant, meaning it will last longer than other sealants.
The first step to using this sealant is combining both of the liquid components that the product provides. This will initiate a chemical process by which the liquid will gradually begin to solidify.
You may need to keep stirring the liquids for around ten minutes before they solidify, which is the only downside to this particular sealant.
Once the sealant has solidified, cover the decal with the resin (once you’ve adhered the decal to the tumbler).
Make sure it’s as evenly distributed as possible, and before long your decal will be completely sealed and protected.
Sealing vinyl on stainless steel isn’t always necessary, because high-quality permanent vinyl is bound to last a long time anyway, but for things like tumblers, sealant will likely add a little more longevity to your decal.
The steps involved in applying the sealant are fairly straightforward (mix the resin components until they harden and then apply the sealant to the decal).
The process that requires a little more effort is adhering the vinyl to the tumbler, but with our guide, you should be able to master it quite quickly.
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