How to make your own clear vinyl decals for cars

Written by cristel wood
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How to make your own clear vinyl decals for cars
A vinyl decal is a great way to personalise your automobile. (yellow car, a honda Japanese sport car model image by alma_sacra from

Clear vinyl decals are great for automobiles. Whether you are applying the decal to a window or to the body of the automobile itself, the clear vinyl adds stability to the design of the decal, allowing the decal to better resist weathering without drawing attention away from lettering or designs. Vinyl decals can be applied and removed without leaving behind unsightly adhesive or damaging paint.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Poster board
  • Printer (optional)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Cutting mat
  • Vinyl decal paper
  • Clear vinyl decal paper
  • Vinyl decal die-cutting machine (optional)
  • Graphics editing software (optional)

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  1. 1

    Design your decal. Draw your design on a piece of poster board, or print out a design on your computer and attach it to a piece of poster board with a little tape. The poster board gives your design sturdiness while you complete the process of creating the decal.

  2. 2

    Cut out your design using a pair or scissors or a craft knife. If you use a craft knife, be sure to use a cutting mat in order to avoid cutting or scratching your work surface.

  3. 3

    Place a piece of vinyl decal paper on a flat surface with the colour facing down and the backing facing up. Lay your cut-out design on top of the vinyl decal paper. Secure with a little tape. Trace your design onto the backing of the vinyl decal paper.

  4. 4

    Remove the poster board design and set it aside. It can be reused for future decals.

  5. 5

    Cut out the design you traced on the vinyl decal paper. If your design contains lettering, you will need to reverse the lettering for it to read properly. Most graphic editing software can mirror a design for you, or you can attempt to hand draw reverse lettering.

  6. 6

    Place a piece of clear vinyl decal paper on a flat surface with the backing of the decal paper facing up. Remove the backing of the vinyl decal paper.

  7. 7

    Carefully place your cut-out vinyl design on the adhesive side of the clear vinyl decal paper. The colour side of your design should be facing down. Apply the cut-out design slowly, starting at one edge and working across to the second edge. Check for bubbles or ridges as you go and correct when necessary by lifting a little of the cut-out design and reattaching.

  8. 8

    Remove the backing paper from your cut-out design. Cover the complete vinyl decal with the backing you removed from the clear vinyl decal paper. The result is a clear vinyl decal with a design that is ready to be used at your convenience or even stored for future use.

Tips and warnings

  • A vinyl die-cut machine can be used to cut out designs. Simply follow the instructions that come with the machine.
  • Vinyl decal paper is available in a variety of colours and can be purchased at most any craft or office supply store.
  • There are computer software programs for creating vinyl decals and special vinyl decal paper for printers, but printed decals tend to be less sturdy than handcrafted vinyl decals.
  • Vinyl decals can be removed from the surface they are applied to and reapplied to a new surface.
  • Use caution when cutting with scissors or a craft knife.
  • With clear vinyl decals, the only part of the decal that will show up on windows or other surfaces will be the design you add to it.

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