Mon 3 Oct 2011
Vinyl won’t peel from its backing? Join the club! Vector designer Tay Silver was so frustrated with her vinyl that she sprayed, nuked, sunbaked and ironed her way to figuring out the best trick to get stubborn vinyl to do what it’s supposed to do!
Hey vinyl pros, this is Tay and I’m here to help you overcome that all-too-frequent problem when vinyl lettering sticks to its own backing paper instead of pulling cleanly away with the tape. Typically this occurs when cut depth settings are very slightly too deep and the fresh-sliced gluey edge of the vinyl is pushed into the backing paper by the cutting blade, making it stick to the paper more firmly than usual. I have personally run into this issue many times with my Silhouette machine. After being asked to head up a craft project for a youth group, I found myself faced with 100 vinyl decals that were refusing to peel so I set about to find some easy household remedies that both you and your customers can use to overcome vinyl stubbornly stuck to it’s backing.
Tay’s Easy Remedy #1: Microwave the Decal for 3 seconds
This may sound like it would ruin the decal but after several tests, all the vinyl decals were fine with a quick 3 second zap. The decal will emerge feeling only slightly warm in your hand but it’s enough to convince the backing paper to let go and the design should peel away smoothly. This trick was not only the easiest but also worked the best, even on the most thick, stubborn navy blue vinyl I had. Works best when peeled & applied within 20 minutes.
Tay’s Easy Remedy #2: Bend, Wiggle & “Pop” the Decal
Ever seen someone hold the edges of a crisp dollar bill, move their hands close together to arch the paper and then abruptly pull their hands apart to make the paper bill “pop”? When you’re in a pinch you can use the same trick with your vinyl. Hold the decal facing you with the application tape side up. Bend the entire design slowly but firmly, curving the tape side upward and outward and the backing paper inward. Wiggle-wave the paper or “pop” it a few times to help those dug-in letter edges release from the backing paper. The backing paper and perhaps even the application tape will appear crinkled but the flexible vinyl will be unharmed and should peel away from the paper more easily. If not, microwave it.
Tay’s Easy Remedy #3: Iron the Back of the Backing Paper
With an iron set on low or medium-low, iron the paper back (not the tape side) for 5 to 10 seconds or long enough to warm the entire design. Warming the backing paper causes it to flatten and the movement, along with slightly heating the adhesive, seems to cause the vinyl edges to pop free of the paper. Apply quickly, within 10 minutes of ironing for best results.
Tay’s Easy Remedy #4: Spray the Back with Rubbing Alcohol
Anything that flattens or alters the shape of the backing paper while leaving the vinyl and tape in place seems to unstick the letters. Rubbing alcohol evaporates very quickly so it will not drench your decal’s adhesive, just the backing paper. Using a spray bottle, spray the paper back with a light spritz until it feels damp to the touch, rub the alcohol into the back of the backing paper with your fingers and then blot dry with a paper towel. Let dry completely before peeling. This technique, when dry, leaves the backing paper looking normal but has the longest lasting effects, making it a suitable treatment to use before shipping vinyl so customers experience easier peeling.
Tay’s Easy Remedy #5: Let the Vinyl Warm Up Outside
Warming the vinyl and the paper seems to do the trick so if it’s a hot day and you have the time, place your vinyl outside, away from direct sunlight in a warm place such as your mailbox. After 10 or 15 minutes it should be ready to peel cleanly. If not, try popping the vinyl as described in Tip #2 and then peel.
Hopefully these tricks give you a way to cut down on vinyl frustrations and time-consuming customer issues, especially during busy holiday seasons. If you have other tips of your own, please feel free to post them in our comment section!
Click here to purchase the Good Choices Rock BlockART Vector Design for Vinyl and Digital Cutting shown in this post.