If you’re just getting started with adhesive vinyl, you might be wondering how you’re supposed to get that awesome decal you just cut off the vinyl backing and onto your project.  Vinyl does look like a big sticker and it might be tempting to just transfer the design by hand.  But, you’ll quickly find out it’s not that easy.  Unlike stickers, vinyl is very thin and it doesn’t hold its shape when it’s off the backing.  It will bend and fold over itself and cause a sticky mess.  It’s even worse when you have an intricate design or a design with lots of letters and it’s nearly impossible to keep everything lined up and straight.  This is where transfer tape comes in.  Transfer tape helps you quickly and easily transfer your vinyl design from the vinyl backing onto your projects.  You might have heard a little bit about transfer tape and might be wondering why you need it, how to use it, and where to get it.  This tutorial will teach you all those things!  Plus, we’ll even create a fun little project to show transfer tape in action.

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Why you Need to use Transfer Tape with Vinyl

Transfer tape is used to transfer adhesive vinyl designs from the vinyl backing to the final surface where it will be applied.  The transfer tape temporarily adheres to the non-sticky side of the vinyl and allows you to lift the vinyl off the backing and expose the sticky side of the vinyl.  It keeps everything in place so the entire design can be transferred from the backing to the surface at once. After the vinyl has been applied, the transfer material is removed.

Types of Transfer Tape

There are two types of transfer tape: paper tape (aka transfer paper) and clear or transparent transfer tape. Both types come in a variety of sizes.  They come on a roll or in precut sheets.  The transparency of clear tape is ideal for multi-color designs where exact placement is required. Paper tape is similar to masking tape but comes in much larger widths.  It is somewhat transparent, but nothing like the clear tape.  You can get paper tape slightly damp to help make application on some surfaces easier (this is known as the wet method). Either type of transfer tape will work to transfer adhesive vinyl, it really is a matter of personal preference.  I almost always use clear transfer tape because I love being able to see my designs through the tape.  I also prefer it on a roll and without any backing.  That way I can just unroll the amount I need, cut it off, and it’s good to go.

Where to Purchase Transfer Tape

Alternatives to Transfer Tape

I love using transfer tape and would totally recommend always having it on hand.  But, if you really need to transfer a design and can’t get your hands on transfer tape, you can try contact paper or painters tape.

How to use Transfer Tape

Now that you know all about it, let’s get started using it!

Once you’ve cut and weeded your design, you are ready to use the transfer tape.  Cut a piece a little bit larger than your design.

Place the transfer tape over the design.  See how nice the clear transfer tape is?  You can see your design right through it.

Use an application (scraper) tool or even an old credit card to rub over the transfer tape.

Trim off the excess tape.

Flip the design over and start pulling off the vinyl backing.  The vinyl should release from the backing and stick to the transfer tape.

After you’ve removed the vinyl backing, it’s time to move the vinyl onto your project.  See how nice the transfer tape is?  It keeps the whole design perfectly in place.

Place the design over your object.  Make sure it’s centered and straight and then push it down.

Use an application tool, or even your fingers, to rub over the vinyl and help it stick to your blank.

Grab one corner of the transfer tape and slowly pull down at an angle.

That’s it.  Isn’t transfer tape amazing?

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