How to Use Transfer Tape
If you're looking to use transfer tape to install vinyl graphics and decals onto a surface, you'll need to know how to install it, what type of tape to use and other handy tips. As an expert in transfer tapes, TapeManBlue has collected a great deal of knowledge about transfer tape over the years. Whether you're using transfer tape for commercial or personal purposes, you'll find the information you need to get started below.
What Is Transfer Tape?
Sometimes known as application tape, transfer tape is a plastic or paper film that is often applied onto the top of a piece of vinyl to make its placement easier. With transfer tape, the installer has full control over how and where the vinyl is being installed onto a piece of substrate. Highlighting the many uses for transfer tape, this substrate can include car doors, windows and plastic materials, among many other options.
Transfer tape often gets its name for its ability to transfer vinyl decals or graphics onto a substrate. To ensure accuracy and proper placement, transfer tape is often an essential part of the placement process.
Paper Versus Clear Transfer Tape
As you use vinyl transfer tapes, you should be aware of the two main types of transfer tapes: paper and transparent tapes. Paper tapes, as their name suggests, are tapes that are constructed out of paper. As such, the paper face film will come with an adhesive coated on it. The film will usually be somewhat translucent but will not be entirely see-through. Often, this tape is the go-to choice for those who need a versatile tape that doesn't require a great deal of precision.
In contrast, transparent tapes are made out of plastic face films. Unlike paper transfer tape, clear transfer tape is totally transparent, allowing for greater accuracy in the placement of graphics. For example, if you need to place layers of multi-colored vinyl graphics on top of one another, then clear transfer tape is the kind of tape you need.
What Type of Transfer Tape Should I Use?
As you compare vinyl transfer paper tape versus clear transfer tape, consider their pros and cons:
Paper Transfer Tape Pros
Many companies use paper tape for the benefits they provide to users. Some of these benefits include:
- Greater flexibility and softness as compared to clear transfer tape
- Wide range of tack levels, coming in low, medium and high tack levels
- Often less expensive than its clear tape counterpart due to its material
- Porous film allows for it to be used with application fluids
Paper Transfer Tape Cons
Though there are many pros associated with paper transfer tape, there are also a few cons that you should be aware of before you select it:
- Not as precise as clear transfer tape
- Paper pre-mask can reduce a graphic's visual appeal before being removed
- Will not be as transparent or have as high of a presentation quality as clear transfer tape.
Clear Transfer Tape Pros
Clear transfer tape is a higher-grade transfer tape, often used when a great deal of accuracy is required. As you consider it, see its main benefits below:
- Completely transparent
- Pre-masked image is more attractive to customers who will be completing the installation job themselves
- Easier and more precise installation
Clear Transfer Tape Cons
Along with its benefits, there are also a few cons that come with using clear transfer tape:
- Inability to let liquid through the fill, meaning that the water can end up degrading the vinyl adhesive and the tape
- Lower tack adhesive, making it unsuitable for certain types of vinyl
- Often generates static charges, which then bring debris to the graphics
- Not as versatile, as it can't heat-press T-shirt transfers due to plastic face films melting at high temperatures
What to Look For When Purchasing Transfer Tape
As you decide on transfer tape, you'll want to check the following qualities to determine the quality of the tape you are purchasing:
- Tear quality: As you decide on a tape, you'll want to see what kind of tear quality it offers. A low-quality transfer tape will tear off in uneven pieces that are often useless. A high-quality tape will allow for precise, consistent tearing.
- Wrinkling: Wrinkling is one of the most frustrating problems that comes with low-quality tape, as it can harm the visual appeal of a graphic. A higher-quality tape will reduce the amount of wrinkling that occurs with your transfer tape.
- Edge lift: In lower-quality tapes, the edges will often curl upwards and away from the vinyl. If you sell graphics, tape that's curled away from the edges can collect dirt, harming the graphic's appearance. A high-quality tape will stay attached to the corners.
- Static: Often, clear tape will bring with it issues like a static charge when people unwind the tape. Investing in higher-quality transfer tape will reduce the amount of static generated.
- Tack level: As you purchase a transfer tape, you'll want it to match the type of substrate you're placing your vinyl graphics onto. As you pick a tape, consider the bond between vinyl and substrate, tape and substrate and vinyl and tape. You'll want the tape's bond to be stronger with the vinyl than it is on a paper release liner so as not to remove the vinyl from the liner.
How Is Transfer Tape Commonly Used?
There are several ways to use transfer tape. For example, it's often used to improve the visual appeal of a company's signs, buildings and other relevant surfaces. Typically, transfer tape is used with decals, stickers, vinyl graphics and craft projects.
For commercial use, transfer tape is often employed to make a company's building look more attractive, impressing potential clients or customers, while also making their space more pleasant for employees to work in. Companies that want to grow their brand awareness often utilize transfer tape to put up custom decals, graphics and stickers in key locations.
Many stores use transfer tape to place graphics in locations that attract potential customers. For instance, companies often use transfer tape to place an attractive decal in a storefront window that aims to attract foot traffic.
For personal use, many people like to use transfer tape in craft projects. DIY types love the feeling of crafting a graphic that can be placed directly onto their living room wall as decoration. To make sure they get the placement just right, they use transfer tape.
How Do You Apply and Use Transfer Tape?
If you're looking to use and apply transfer tape yourself, you'll need to follow a set of rules to ensure that the transfer tape is used properly for the most visually appealing final product. Below you'll find the proper steps to install transfer tape:
1. Create the Design and Cut the Vinyl
The first step to using transfer tape is to have a graphic that you want to apply to a surface. Once you have a graphic you want to use, you'll typically print it out on vinyl. Often, cutting machines have a kiss-cut feature that only cuts the vinyl, rather than cutting the backing paper as well. This sort of cut makes the vinyl decal peeling process much easier.
2. Weed Any Excess Vinyl
After you've printed out the decal that you want to use and had it kiss cut, you'll need to weed the transfer tape.
Weeding refers to the process of removing the unnecessary parts of a design that you don't want to use. Essentially, weeding is the process of removing the material that you don't want with your design. Just like weeding a garden, you are getting rid of the unattractive parts that distract from the main elements.
To complete the weeding process, you can remove the excess vinyl by peeling it off of the vinyl liner. After peeling, if there are any extra pieces of vinyl remaining, you can carefully cut them off. While weeding the excess vinyl, it's important to note that the vinyl's backing should remain intact.
3. Place the Transfer Tape
Next, you'll cut out a piece of transfer tape slightly larger than the decal. You'll place it over the vinyl graphic, making sure that there are no air bubbles in it. Once the tape is over the image, you'll then want to rub, or burnish, the tape onto the vinyl. You should begin burnishing the tape in the center of the tape, slowly working outwards until all of it is securely placed on the graphic.
4. Place the Vinyl Graphic
After the transfer tape has been placed on the graphic, you can then peel the decal from its backing. With the decal's adhesive now activated, you can then place the vinyl graphic onto the proper location.
Finally, you'll place the transfer tape and graphic onto your desired surface. Start with the edge of the transfer tape to make sure you are in the proper position before fully placing it on the location. To complete the installation process, burnish the decal and tape, starting in the center and moving outward. When it's fully burnished, you can pull the tape off of the decal, leaving it firmly attached to the substrate.
Tips and Tricks for Easy Application of Transfer Tape
There are a few tips for applying transfer tape that you should follow to ensure proper application.
- Avoid removing all transfer tape: If you're unsure about where exactly you want the decal to be placed, you should wait to take all of the backing transfer tape off. First, only peel a corner off, striking it onto the part of the substrate you'd like it to be. Once you've evaluated how the rest of the design will look in that position and find it acceptable, you can then remove the rest of the tape, placing the decal confidently.
- Cut transfer tape larger than the vinyl: To help you peel transfer tape easily, you should cut the tape slightly larger than the vinyl you are looking to install. The larger piece of tape will help you easily pull it off of the graphic when it comes time to remove it.
- Snip the transfer tape for curved surfaces: At times, you'll need vinyl placed onto a curved surface. For the inexperienced, this kind of placement may result in wrinkles in the final product. To prevent this, you can snip little bits of the transfer tape to increase flexibility. Of course, you'll want to make sure that you don't cut the decal you'll be placing.
Frequently Asked Questions About Transfer Tape
To help you gain a broader understanding of best practices associated with transfer tape, consider the following answers to common questions about transfer tape:
1. What Do You Need to Use Transfer Tape?
All you need to have to work with transfer tape is vinyl, the transfer tape and something to cut with. Depending on the job, you may only need paper punches, die-cuts or scissors, while others may require a cutting machine. Often, squeegees are used when applying the transfer tape and vinyl to a surface to prevent air bubbles and wrinkling.
2. How Does Adhesive Vinyl Work With Transfer Tape?
Adhesive vinyl comes with an adhesive on the back of it and a backing sheet covering the adhesive. When the adhesive vinyl is cut into the shape you need, you'll make sure that it's not cut through the paper backing. The backing is then removed so that the adhesive can attach to the surface you are placing the decal on.
3. How Will the Substrate Affect the Transfer Tape Application?
Before you decide on a transfer tape, you'll want to be aware of how the surface will affect the tape. For instance, cut vinyl is often meant to be applied to a flat surface. Rough surfaces reduce how much the adhesive sticks to the substrate, making it difficult for the vinyl to stay attached to the substrate.
Often, companies will mistakenly pair high tack tape with low tack vinyl as they apply a graphic onto a rough substrate. This combination will typically fail due to the vinyl film having a stronger bond with the transfer tape than the rough surface. As you select a transfer tape, you'll want to check to see if the substrate and transfer tape pair well together, as you don't want the tape overpowering the substrate's adhesive power.
4. Do I Really Need Transfer Tape?
Most likely. While it's possible to remove vinyl from its backing to its new location, it's challenging to place it accurately or prevent damage from occurring to it. Transfer tape makes the process much easier and saves companies the time and money required to fix or replace an improperly applied piece of transfer tape.
5. What Is the Difference Between Tacks?
Tack describes a transfer tape's ability to attach to a substrate after being placed under pressure or over contact time. In other words, low, medium and high tack all describe how sticky the application tape is. Medium-high tack transfer tape is often best for smaller graphics, while low tack transfer tape is often used for larger graphics.
Looking for High-Quality Transfer Tape?
Whether you're looking for paper or clear transfer tape, TapeManBlue can help you find it. With our tape, you can be certain that you're getting the highest-quality transfer tape around. Our online store has a variety of paper and clear transfer tapes, all coming in different sizes to fit your needs. If you already know what you need, visit our store now to find what you're looking for.
If you're unsure about the type of tape you need or have any other questions, contact us today to speak to one of our knowledgeable representatives.