How To Apply Vinyl Wall Decals

April 25th, 2011

You gotta love vinyl wall decals.  They are such an easy and affordable way to decorate without paint!  Vinyl is used everywhere . . . museums, schools, businesses and even on cars.  So many times I thought a design or lettering had been hand painted.  Only touching reveals the “vinyl” secret.  Decals are simple to install and take less time than painting.  No Muss . . . No Fuss . . . No Paint!

A decal is packaged as a sandwich of three layers; the bottom is backing paper, the middle is your custom decal, and the top is transfer paper.  During shipping the sandwich may ripple or the layers may have pull apart.  That’s ok.   Lay it on a flat surface and use a squeegee or credit card to gently press the layers back together.  You may find it necessary to allow the decal to lay flat overnight and acclimate to the environment.   We include a sample decal in our packages for practice.  Apply to paper, in the closet, or any flat surface.

Gather a few Supplies and you are ready to rock & roll.

  • Pencil & Scissors
  • Painter’s Tape (please don’t use masking tape as you risk pulling paint from the wall)
  • Level
  • Tape Measure or Yardstick


Prepare Your Wall Your decal should be applied to a clean surface.  If your walls are freshly painted simply dust the wall with a soft cloth to insure there is no surface dust.  If your paint is not so fresh, wash the surface with a mild household cleaner and rinse.  Allow the wall to dry completely before application.  It’s important to allow freshly painted walls to cure before applying your vinyl decal.  Ideally, that’s 30 days.  At a minimum, two weeks, at your own risk, a week or less.

Placement Choose the wall placement for your decal.  If it’s a quote or a phrase you may want to mark a center point as well as a level line on the wall.  If it’s a design with random placement, you want to make sure your design is level.  On most designs, we give you the center point and a level line.  Using a yardstick or a straight edge, mark a pencil line across the design using our guide triangles.   Hold the design to the wall and place pieces of painters tape aligned with those marks.   We like to make marks on the painters tape rather than the wall as sometimes erasing the wall doesn’t work out too well.  Remove design and make sure your marked tape pieces are centered and level.   Matching those marks, secure the design in place along the top edge with painters tape.  The tape acts as a hinge.

Remove the Backing Depending on the design, it may be precut into sections that butt against each other.  If it’s too long to manage comfortably, feel free to cut the design being sure not to cut the vinyl.  Flip the decal design up keeping it flat against the wall and slowly peel off the bottom layer (grid paper.)  Watch that no parts of the decal are sticking to the backing paper.  All design elements should all be attached to the transfer tape.  Also, be careful not to touch the decal adhesive backing.  Once the backing paper is removed (a section at a time if necessary) carefully lay the decal back down into position.

Rub the Design onto the Wall Use the squeegee to firmly rub/smooth the entire surface working from the center out.  This step secures the decal to the wall.

Remove the Transfer Tape Slowly peel the transfer tape which is the sticky paper top layer to reveal your design now on the wall.  When removing the tape pull in a “rock & roll” motion at an angle from top left corner to bottom right corner rolling it back on itself.   Move slowly and carefully watching that all elements of the design have adhered to the wall and not lifted with the transfer tape.  If something hasn’t stuck to the wall, roll the transfer tape back and use your squeegee to burnish the decal to the wall then, continue with the removal.  Remove placement triangles if they transferred to the wall and gently smooth design with hand.

Enjoy!   You did it!  Friends and family will be so impressed with your decorating diva talents!

If you prefer an instructional video, visit us on YouTube.  How To Apply a Vinyl Wall Decal by

When it’s time to remove the decal from the wall, use a blow dryer to heat/soften the vinyl making it easier to remove.

Exposed Brick . . . how did they do that?

February 8th, 2011

A brand new model home but there’s a wall with plaster crumbling away and brick peeking through . . . how did they do that?  It’s easy to achieve the look with craft acrylic paint and a faux brick stencil.   Decorative Artist Margaret von Kaenel  taught an Exposed Brick class in our retail shop and we’re sharing her instructions.


  • sea sponges (one for each color) dampened
  • craft acrylic paints – Margaret’s favorite colors for brick were brick red, dark brown, pink, & cream
  • Styrofoam plates
  • bucket of water to rinse sponges
  • paper towels
  • level – love the iHandy Level App for iPhone
  • brown paper grocery bags
  • painter’s tape (low-tack)


Begin by tearing or cutting brown paper grocery sacks and placing them on the wall to make the edge of the faux plaster.  Dilute light grey (or your choice of grout color) with water and sponge lightly over the wall.  For a more mottled look, add a slightly darker grey (or darker shade of your color choice) also mixed with water and sponge over the lighter grout color.  Soften with a clean damp sponge.   Spray the back of the brick stencil with repositionable stencil spray adhesive.  Tape the stencil in place making sure the grout lines are straight using a level.  You don’t want crooked bricks.  Before beginning, all sponges should be slightly damp and wrung out completely.  A too damp sponge will result in paint seeping or bleeding under the stencil.   Start with your predominant color by loading the sponge, then removing the excess on a paper towel.  Fill in the brick areas almost completely.  The other colors are then added randomly until you achieve the look you want.  Treat each brick differently for a more realistic look.  Complete all bricks in the exposed area.  Remove bags and set aside. 


Americana craft acrylic paint, Charcoal Grey is a very brownish grey and makes an excellent shading color.  Water down the acrylic paint to the consistency of ink.  With a small stencil brush (use the paper towel to offload the paint making the brush very dry) shade along the bottom and one side (the side away from the light source if you have one) of each brick.  Replace your torn or cut paper bag and use that to shade the edges of bricks as well. 

We love exposed brick on a wall with a faux finish.  Cracks can be hand painted if you want an older look.

One-Time Use Vinyl Stencils

January 28th, 2011

We have been making Custom Lettering Stencils for years.  Today it’s not just custom lettering!  You want designs with style!  So we’ve expanded and will be adding 100’s of new designs cut as one-time use vinyl stencils.  Vinyl stencils make beautiful and affordable focal points for any room and the possibilities are endless. 

How To Apply

Complete instructions follow.  In this example, we will assume you are going to center the design on the wall. Measure the wall and divide by two.  Lightly mark the center line with a pencil.   Position the marked center line of the  stencil on this mark.  If your stencil is cut in sections, be sure the stencil pieces butt against each other.  For horizontal placement, use a level and the lines marked on the sides of the stencil.  To hold the stencil in place, tape across the top edge with low-tack painters tape (usually blue.)  The stencil is a sandwich of three layers.  Once the stencil is in place flip it up so you are looking at the back as shown at right.

Carefully pull off the back layer as shown making sure you do not remove the letter centers (a, b, d, e, g, o, p, & q), as they need to stay in place.  Don’t panic if any pieces are left on the backing paper.  Simply remove the centers one at a time, turn over and place back in the appropriate space or letter.

Once the backing is removed, hold the stencil in each of the bottom corners and carefully fold down to the wall.  Firmly press the stencil to the wall (we’ve used a wall scraper, but a credit card will work just fine) making sure it is securely attached.

Next, remove the top layer called transfer tape.  Again, you will want to make sure that the letter centers remain in place on the wall and are not removed with the transfer tape.  If removed simply position back in the proper letter.  The remaining layer is the stencil.  Make sure it is lying flat to the wall surface.  

We recommend you place blue painters tape over the sections that butt up to one another to insure that no paint seeps in where a gap may be present.  Use painter’s tape to protect the outside edges as well.

General Stencil Instructions

Loading the brush – Use craft acrylic paint and apply a quarter size dab of paint onto a Styrofoam plate.  Dip your stencil brush straight down into the paint.  Using a circular motion, rub the brush on a double layer of Bounty® paper towel folded in half.  Continue until all the wet paint is off the brush.  Look at the bristles of the brush.  If you see wet paint, you will need to rub some more.  The brush should look dry.  Stenciling is a dry brush technique.  Too much paint and it will seep under the stencil.  Remember when stenciling, you will waste more paint than you will use.   

Applying the paint – Keep the brush perpendicular to the surface and either tap/pounce or swirl the surface of the stencil.  In most cases you will simply fill in each letter with paint.  If you wish to shade the edges, use a smaller stencil brush and a complimentary or darker color and just hug or tickle the edges of the stencil.   A sample will be included with your stencil for you to practice your technique. 

Once the stenciling and shading are complete, gently remove the stencil.  We recommend you pull the stencil material at an angle working from a top corner to the opposite lower corner.  The stencil material cannot be replaced once removed.  It will most likely tear or stretch when being removed.   This is why it is a one-time use stencil.

Almost Done!

The last step is to gently lift off the letter centers using tweezers, a pin or a craft knife. 


If you stenciled letters, unlike a traditional stencil, these will look like you hand-painted each one on the wall.  With vinyl stencils, the possibilities go far beyond quotes on the wall.  They truly are

. . . another easy way to decorate with paint!

If you prefer not to use paint, choose Vinyl Wall Decals . . . designs that stick.