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Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

#1 2010-05-29 10:03pm

John De Bruin
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Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

A lot of people ask me for tips on how to apply decals, so I’ll walk through some steps that will help you to apply the perfect sticker. My large National Pro down tube sticker is the most difficult sticker I’ve ever applied. I want to reposition it, so this is a good opportunity to document the steps.

Chrome foil stickers in-general are easier to apply than clear-backed material. Although I always order the thickest 3 Mil clear-backed material from my supplier, they do require extra care when applying to avoid imperfections and get it right the first time. There are 3 methods I know for applying decals: dry (peel-n-stick), wet (soapy water), or with application tape. Application tape doesn't require much more effort, and the results are perfect if followed.

For this method you’ll need the sticker, blue 3M painters tape, and 3M brand SCPM-3 Application Tape. A search on eBay or Google should find you some.

http://img20.imageshack.us/img20/779/dsc08180g.jpg

Next we want to pre-determine the location of where our sticker will go, so we can concentrate on applying the sticker correctly and not about locating it. In my case, I had an existing sticker in place, so I worked off that. Use small pieces of the blue painters tape to define the 2 positions of the longest side, and a very short piece for 1 corner in the opposite direction. One way of doing this when you’re not working off an old sticker like me is to cut the backing away at the corners of the sticker, then wrap the sticker around the tube with one hand while your other hand applies a piece of painters tape. The goal is to temporarily see where the corners should be so that the sticker wraps around the tube with the center of the sticker being centered on the top tube.

In my case, I peeled up the corner of my old decal to put the painters tape on the frame, and the arrows show the position of the old corner, and the intended new corner:

http://img241.imageshack.us/img241/8822/dsc08184.jpg

And the tape down at the other end to define the longest edge (and after I removed the old sticker):

http://img96.imageshack.us/img96/1033/dsc08187r.jpg

Next, rip a piece of application tape that’s 4" longer than the length of the sticker and apply the long edge of the tape exactly along the long edge of the sticker (not the sticker backing). The 2" overhang per side is very important, because you’ll be holding onto that rather than the sticker. Smooth out any air bubbles by rubbing your finger firmly across the entire surface area:

http://img202.imageshack.us/img202/9099/dsc08183v.jpg

Next, make sure the area on the frame is absolutely clean and free of any dust, dirt, fingerprints, grease, etc. How I do this is with a soft lint-free cotton shirt or shop rag with a very little amount of Isopropyl Alcohol. You should always test a small area first to make sure it doesn’t dull or ruin the finish on the frame.

Next, hold the application tape/sticker vertical like in this photo below and peel the sticker backing off. Grab the other “tab" on the other end so you’re holding the application tape with both hands. DO NOT touch the adhesive of the sticker or you’ll add fingerprints that might be visible later.

http://img715.imageshack.us/img715/7863/dsc08189.jpg

Now, align the long edge of the application tape/sticker with the long-edge locations of the blue painters tape, while also lining up the one corner of the sticker with the blue painters tape corner piece. The nice thing about application tape is that you can see through it to know where the corner of the sticker is. Use the tip of your finger to slide across the long edge just enough so that the application tape/sticker won’t go anywhere when you let go of it.

http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/6563/dsc08190i.jpg

Now, using your index finger, press firmly and slide back-and-forth across the length of the sticker. Slowly advance across the width of the sticker as you wrap it around the tube. Make sure you keep sliding back-and-forth down the length. Do not rub in any direction other than this. This is the money shot, and I take my time and spend at least a few minutes on this step. I probably rub the length a dozen times for every 1/16" that I advance across the width. Once the entire sticker is wrapped, give some extra attention to all 4 edges.

http://img714.imageshack.us/img714/8313/dsc08191j.jpg

This is what it will look like when you’re done rubbing:

http://img709.imageshack.us/img709/9061/dsc08193v.jpg

Slowly remove the Application Tape. Ooooh, I see some goodness in there:

http://img130.imageshack.us/img130/2277/dsc08194l.jpg

Since it wasn’t easy to see in the pictures above, here’s how the corner looks when lined up with the painters tape:

http://img130.imageshack.us/img130/858/dsc08197w.jpg

With all the tape gone, use the soft lint-free cotton shirt or rag and rub over the entire decal one more time. If there’s any glue residue on the edge of the sticker, you could try using an extremely small amount of ISO alcohol (just a drop or two) on the rag, but use extreme caution since the ISO might damage or remove the printing on the sticker.

All done, and not a single bubble, finger print, crease, or stretch mark:

http://img710.imageshack.us/img710/4163/dsc08199r.jpg

Last edited by John De Bruin (2010-05-29 10:38pm)

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#2 2010-05-30 10:56am

BOMAT
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

John...

          Nice tuitorial! Good tips...


26" Cruisers...outdated,outmoded...but still cool!

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#3 2010-07-20 1:49pm

radluke502
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Good Job teaching us:)


That's what she said...

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#4 2010-08-09 8:27pm

bloud
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Great tutorial, OUCH! on the price of 3M SCPM-3 Application Tape. Cheapest roll I can find is about $100

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#5 2010-08-10 3:57am

Toddzilla619
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

bloud wrote:

Great tutorial, OUCH! on the price of 3M SCPM-3 Application Tape. Cheapest roll I can find is about $100

NAHHHH i know its somewhat difficult to find but i found ONE shop locally that carries it.  ask screen printers and your local car decal guys where to buy it.  The guys who do vinyl decals you see on cars use this stuff too.  you might be able to buy a roll off them... or they can direct you on where to go.

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#6 2010-09-15 6:39am

zombie_jesus
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

very useful and impressive. thanks


#TeamGeiger

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#7 2010-09-15 1:03pm

krunchbang
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

I occasionally have to rip some vinyl for signage at work. We get our application tape at Sign Warehouse

http://www.signwarehouse.com/c-application-tape.html

I have had success with the Endura Mask and the Clear Choice AT-60 for putting decals on various bikes. I also suggest the application fluid, as it will both clean the surface, and allow movement for alignment.

Oh, and a good squeegee helps to get all the air bubbles out.

-Will

Last edited by krunchbang (2010-09-15 1:05pm)


whooooo stole my lighter?

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#8 2010-10-02 10:35pm

instantvintage
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Great tip!

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#9 2010-10-21 3:12pm

agentj37o
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Hey John, thanks for posting this! Messed up a few decal in the past!!!

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#10 2010-10-28 12:15am

niko
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Great demo, I'll be using this method too smile


Whats that animal that kills snakes again? Oh yeh "Mongoose"!!

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#11 2010-12-09 2:21am

551slander
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Great Info!smile


ISO:  Survivor Hazard Yellow RL20II...Let's Talk!

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#12 2011-01-17 8:34pm

oldskoolGT
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

It would be cool if someone posted a how to video on applying a sticker set using the soap water method.

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#13 2011-01-18 11:44pm

kegger
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

big_smile


A WISE MAN ONCE SAID.........   NOTHING...


HE LET HER VENT, THEN THEY WENT UPSTAIRS AND HAD SEX


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#14 2011-01-19 9:11am

xtremevert
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

oldskoolGT wrote:

It would be cool if someone posted a how to video on applying a sticker set using the soap water method.

here's one...


http://ajkbikes.com/downloads/techtips/ … ctions.pdf


My Father once spoke to me and said "The way you look at your bike is the way I see My children, I look past the imperfections and rough surfaces to the beauty of the finished product."

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#15 2011-01-19 9:14am

tim1218
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Good to know, thanks!

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#16 2011-02-26 9:18am

irishbike
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

im restoring my natty and was wondering if i should put on new sticker as mine aren't in the best shape

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#17 2011-03-16 8:38pm

Rividude
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Completley Unecessary although a Nice tedious way to do it... wink

The easiest and best way... Walk into your kitchen... Look under the sink... See that stuff called Windex (AKA Glass Cleaner)???

Take it over to the frame-set and wet that puppy down... SOAK it!!! Throw the decal at the wet spot carelessly... Sticky side down of course...

Now comes the Hard part... Slide the decal around until it is right where you want it... Tough right??? Slippery When Wet!!!
And you can see what you are doing without hiding your work with that $$$ 3M stuff... big_smile

Now use your finger like an impromptu squeegee and rub out any bubbles or wetness... Wipe down any runs and the rest of the bike while you are at it for a showroom shine!!! DONE (This does not work well with the Thailand Copy super Thick Decals i.e. babylovley they are just crap)

Side Note: You do have about a minute or so before it starts to stick on its own, then it ain't movin' no more... So work semi quickly...

Last edited by Rividude (2011-03-16 8:40pm)


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#18 2011-03-17 9:01am

zombie_jesus
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Rividude wrote:

Completley Unecessary although a Nice tedious way to do it... wink

The easiest and best way... Walk into your kitchen... Look under the sink... See that stuff called Windex (AKA Glass Cleaner)???

Take it over to the frame-set and wet that puppy down... SOAK it!!! Throw the decal at the wet spot carelessly... Sticky side down of course...

Now comes the Hard part... Slide the decal around until it is right where you want it... Tough right??? Slippery When Wet!!!
And you can see what you are doing without hiding your work with that $$$ 3M stuff... big_smile

Now use your finger like an impromptu squeegee and rub out any bubbles or wetness... Wipe down any runs and the rest of the bike while you are at it for a showroom shine!!! DONE (This does not work well with the Thailand Copy super Thick Decals i.e. babylovley they are just crap)

Side Note: You do have about a minute or so before it starts to stick on its own, then it ain't movin' no more... So work semi quickly...

^^^ ME LIKE THIS WAY MORE THAN THE UDDA-FAST AND CHEAP-LIKE MOST DAMES I DIG  ^^^
TANKS


#TeamGeiger

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#19 2011-04-14 7:17am

kilrgt
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Great Tip, I bought 2, 100 yard rolls for 25.00, I have tried the water method and works, but i think this way will work better and it allows me to take  my time..I hate being rushed when it comes to things like this

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#20 2011-04-19 11:58am

dale12four
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Thanks a lot Bro! Nice tip.

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#21 2011-04-26 8:27pm

zmanh2o
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

nice trick

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#22 2011-06-07 1:32pm

clubautio
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

Nice.  Don't want to "f" this step up.  Speaking from experience.

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#23 2011-06-14 7:43pm

jffm107
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

always good info

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#24 2011-06-14 7:46pm

myone
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

COOLLLLLL!!!!!!!cool


Everybody sing GOOOOO YANKEES !!!                      MAH!! COULD WE GET SOME MEATLOAF ??????????

Your gonna wear the shirt of the band your going to see??? DONT BE THAT GUY!!!!!!
R.I.P. Autmn Pasquale 12yrs. old you will not be forgotten. Murderd over BMX parts. UNFORGIVABLE.

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#25 2011-07-31 11:22am

micc0246
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Re: Method For Applying a Decal or Sticker

great tip. i am gonna try it.

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