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Thread: Vinyl decal under or over clear finish?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Plano, Tx

    Vinyl decal under or over clear finish?

    Im making a box for a friend and she wants a logo on the lid of the box. My sister-in-law happens to have a vinyl decal machine and made me the logo today while my family and I were there for a visit.

    My thought was to seal the wood with an initial coat of arm-r-seal or polycrylic (Im not committed to one or the other for this project and will use whatever comes more recommended), place the decal on the lid, and apply several more coats of the finish to bury the vinyl graphic in the finish.

    I could really only find one video on using vinyl graphics on wood and the person in the video said no finish over the vinyl was necessary. My worry is that, even though the box will be indoors, that at some point the vinyl might start to lift. It seems a more common approach is to use the vinyl as a stencil for paint as opposed to applying a permanent vinyl sticker but Im not sure when the next time Ill see my sister in law so I am kind of inclined to give this a go.

    Anyone have any experience with this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Put it over the top of the finish. Vinyl requires a smooth and uniform surface. Give it this and it will stick without peeling. Get your sister in law to show you how to lay the sticker correctly. If you want the look of a buried sticker, you will have to experiment with what finish is compatible with the vinyl. Be prepared to apply many coats to level the finish. Even if you do it this way, you must have a smooth substrate for the vinyl to adhere to. Cheers

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    I agree...over the finish for both the reason that Wayne mentions and because vinyl "moves" a lot with temperature. Some types of vinyl used in sign work get edges sealed for weather reasons, but that's a different situation.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Peters Creek, Alaska
    Another option...if you have the graphics file...would be to use inkjet-printable water slide decals. I bought two flavors: clear and white. I applied them over a base of shellac sealer and finished with spray lacquer. The edges of the clear decal virtually disappeared under four coats. One caveat, can be tricky to apply larger decals without wrinkles.

    Peters Creek, Alaska

    Man is a tool-using animal. Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all. Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

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