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Installing Decorative Wall Decals ~ The Basics

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Your first vinyl wall decal installation can be a little intimidating. It is likely that the process is unlike many other things you have ever done. However, you should not fear this process. Installing decorative wall decals can be a tad tricky the first time but the process is really quite simple. Today I will share the basics of the installation process. In another post, I will discuss some of trickier issues I have run into through the years.

The Components of your Decorative Wall Decals

Typically, there are three primary components of a vinyl wall decal. I say typically because in the past few years the industry has seen a wave of disreputable companies oversees flooding the market in the USA with knockoff products. These knockoffs are often completely unusable while still technically being a complete wall decal.

Hopefully, your wall art is shipped to you in a tube. Folding wall decals will not really damage them but the creases can make them more difficult to install and it may take a week or two for those creases to soften and disappear completely.

Step 1. Remove your wall art from its tube and unroll it.

A good tip here is to lay the wall art flat and put some books all over it. Then let it sit for a few hours or even better, overnight. Your household temperature plus the books should flatten the wall art nicely and make installation easier. However, I have installed many decorative wall decals right out of the tube and it is only a slight difference in difficulty.

You will notice that your wall art consists of three components or layers. One layer, let’s call it the top layer, typically looks like masking tape but can often be a clear tape layer. There is no real difference between the clear tape and the masking tape. Some feel the clear makes the installation process easier but the masking style tape is also see through so I have never noticed any difference.

The second layer, the middle layer, is the actual wall decal. It is made out of sign vinyl and when looking through the tape you should see the design just as you ordered it. This middle layer is the only part that will actually be staying on your wall or other application surfaces.

The third layer, the bottom layer, is a backing paper layer. This is the backing paper that the vinyl comes on when your decal company gets it. Vinyl comes on a large roll sometimes longer than 50 yards. A computer controlled cutter creates the decal. The design is cut into the vinyl layer but not through the paper backing. A person then manually removes the vinyl that doesn’t belong to the design. So yes, someone actually removes each little piece on the inside of an “O” for example. This process is weeding.

These three layers are typically what will arrive when you receive your wall art. Inferior companies will ship the vinyl wall decal without the tape layer. Please understand that this layer is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY even though it eventually gets thrown away. If you didn’t receive a tape layer, you will need to make one. I will cover that process in an installation article that covers trickier installs. But make a note, don’t ever order from that company again. A quality supplier would never ship a wall art that is not ready to install.

Preparing Your Surface and the Decorative Wall Decals

Your wall needs to be fairly clean for a good install to take place. In most cases, just a light wiping with a clean dry cloth will suffice to remove any surface dust. However, everyone’s home is different. If you have smokers in your home, your application wall is near the kitchen or a bathroom, or if you live in a particularly dusty place, you may need to clean your wall a little more thoroughly.

Once your wall is clean, you want to slowly remove the bottom layer of the wall decal. To do this, flip the decal over so the paper backing is on top. Peel the paper back starting at one corner. You want to do this at as sharp an angle as possible. Watch the decal and if it starts to come up with the paper just press the paper back down and pull again at a sharper angle.

Step 2: Clean the application surface

Step 3: Remove the paper backing from the decorative wall decals.

Applying the Decorative Wall Decals

You will now notice that your entire wall art is sticky like tape. You are gonna take the large piece of transfer tape with the wall art decal on it and stick it on the wall. The trick here is that the decal is stickier than the tape. So we will eventually peel the tape off the wall but the decal stays behind on the wall.

Step 4: Place the tape and wall art on the wall.

Make sure to be careful that you are putting your decal on straight and level. If you hold the wall art by the corners of the tape and only push down on the tape in those spots you can step back and check your placement. Once you rub the wall decal down, you do not have another chance to adjust so take your time on this step.

Once you like your placement, rub the wall art down onto the wall through the tape. You don’t need to worry about the tape areas since the tape is being removed anyway.

Tip: If your walls are heavily textured, take a kitchen towel and fold it into two layers. Rub the decorative wall decals down again with the towel applying good pressure. This will allow it to work its way into the texture.

Tip: Leaving your wall art on the wall with the tape still on it for an hour or so allows the adhesive in the vinyl to adhere better to the wall making removing the tape easier.

Let’s take a look

Step 5: Slowly peel the tape layer off the wall leaving the decorative wall decal behind.

This step is similar to removing the backing paper. Grab the tape at one corner and slowly start pulling it back. The tighter the angle the better. I usually fold the tape back onto itself and slide it back so it is at maximum angle. Watch for the wall art to possibly come up in places. If so, just press that spot back down and try again. Eventually, the entire tape layer will be removed and your wall decal will be on the wall. Take a look and repress and weak spots back down. A finger is fine for this part.

Enjoy the View

Your decal is now installed. Take a step back and enjoy your decorative wall decal. Typically it looks like it was hand painted on the wall. Many visitors will comment on how talented you are to be able to hand paint like that.

If this sounded hard at all, it isn’t. A million plus wall arts a year sold and successfully installed. One wall decal company, Scripture Wall Art, is so confident that you can do this, they actually guarantee every part of their product including your installation. So, if you mess it up or even install it crooked, they will replace it for free.

Are you ready for some advanced lessons?  Just —> CLICK HERE <— to go to our Vinyl Wall Decal Installation ~ Advanced article.

Have you ever installed a decorative vinyl wall decal? Leave some comments below with your good story or your horror story.


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