Types of Self-Adhesive Vinyl

From window decals to decor, self-adhesive vinyl is a handy, versatile material that can be used in a multitude of DIY home projects. But did you know that not all self-adhesive vinyls are created equal? There are actually several different types of self-adhesive vinyl, which can make it difficult to know if you’re using the correct type.

Use this handy list to make sure that you’re using the right type of self-adhesive vinyl for the job.

3 most common self-adhesive vinyl types

Monomeric self-adhesive vinyl

Monomeric vinyl is a type of calendered vinyl and one of the most ideal self-adhesive vinyl types for labels and decals. Calendered vinyl is made by melting vinyl ingredients (among them chlorine, ethylene and plasticiser), then rolling the molten material through a set of rollers to achieve a flat finished product.

Monomeric vinyl products contain small molecule plasticisers, which makes the final product more prone to shrinkage. However, monomeric vinyl also:

  • Is one of the most affordable self-adhesive vinyl options
  • Is perfect for flat surfaces like signs
  • Has a moderate lifespan of up to three years depending on the climate

Polymeric self-adhesive vinyl

Like monomeric vinyl, polymeric vinyl is a type of calendered vinyl. However, they are made with long-chain plasticisers that facilitate stronger bonding with the other materials in the vinyl. This makes polymeric self-adhesive vinyl:

  • Last longer (the outdoor lifespan is around 5–7 years)
  • Less prone to shrinkage
  • Ideal even for curved or rough surfaces

Cast vinyl

Unlike the other two self-adhesive types of vinyl on our list, cast vinyl goes through further processing in order to achieve the finished product. To make cast vinyl, the PVC resin, plasticiser and other materials are melted via a special solvent into a thick liquid. This liquid is quickly dried and cured using high temperatures. The fast and extremely hot heating process causes it to form a thin and flexible film.

Of course, the extra steps to the manufacturing process mean that cast vinyl is one of the most expensive types of self-adhesive vinyl. The benefits of cast vinyl, however, often more than make up for the price.

This type of vinyl is perfect for wrapping vehicles or other uneven surfaces thanks to its flexibility and thin design. And because it undergoes such an intense heating process, the finished product is much more resilient to shrinkage and heat damage.

Applying self-adhesive vinyl

Most self-adhesive vinyl types often come with a sticky coating on the back that will allow you to attach it to a surface. To apply monomeric or polymeric vinyl, you should:

  1. Clean the surface to which your vinyl will be sticking.
  2. Gently peel a small portion of the back from the vinyl.
  3. Apply the exposed vinyl to the clean surface, sticky side down.
  4. Use a squeegee or credit card to gently smooth the vinyl in place, peeling away more of the backing as you go.
  5. If bubbles appear, use a small knife or needle to puncture them, then smooth the vinyl down.

Cast vinyl is actually applied in a similar method, though with several extra steps. Once the chosen surface is clean and dry, the vinyl is stretched over the area and then smoothed down. A heat gun may be used to ensure the wrap remains malleable. After the cast vinyl is in its final position, a heat gun is used to secure it in place.

How to choose the right type of self-adhesive vinyl

Once you understand the different types of self-adhesive vinyl, choosing the proper one for your project is simple. Most signage and other common projects utilise monomeric or polymeric vinyl, while cast vinyl is often reserved for projects like vehicle wrapping.

Have questions about which type of vinyl would best suit your next project? Contact our team, we’re always happy to lend a hand.

Discover quality self-adhesive vinyl and more at Creative Graphic Supplies

At Creative Graphic Supplies, high-quality print media and sign materials are our specialities. For years, our team has been providing companies with excellent, client-approved products. Whether you’re searching for self-adhesive vinyl products, heat transfer options, window films or something else, we’re here to help. Our innovative solutions promise something for everyone, no matter your needs.

Browse our entire collection of supplies online today and enjoy competitive pricing, a huge selection of products, speedy delivery and exceptional customer service. Looking for a particular product? Need some advice? Our team is always ready to step in and help. Reach out to us today!

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