What Are Transfer Tapes and Decals?

Transfer Tapes

Vinyl graphics seem to be the new trend on several blog spots. These graphics or transfer tapes and decals are like stickers, bearing customizations.

Have you noticed those arts on your favorite cup or that on a neighbor’s guitar that looks like Jimmy Page’s signature? Yes, that’s it! They are called decals. It goes by other names like thermal decals, pro-cut, or die decals.

Though they sound alike, transfer tapes and transfer decals are two different things. Transfer tapes are also called application tapes. Before placing a vinyl graphic on the material, you need application tape.

Decals have a wide range of applications. However, you must understand which kind to apply. For example, if you use those tapes meant for indoor use for an outdoor job, they might not stay on for long. However, in this article, we will exposit on the types of transfer tapes and decals. We will also consider some advantages and disadvantages of each decal. 

Transfer Tapes and Decals?

Types of Application Tapes and Decals 

Transfer tapes are a necessary part of this art. They are used to connect the graphic art to their destinations – the substrates. A substrate refers to any platform on which you place the art. It can be a car door, cup, window, etc.

The process involves cutting out the graphics with a vinyl cutter. Next, the tapes are laid over the designs, covering them. Stimulate the tape’s glue power using a squeegee and some pressure. Finally, pull the tape away to expose the art.

Applying a decal is not hard. You can click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeFtWXAuk7A to see a video of how to install dry transfer decals.

There are several types of decals. However, for this article, we will consider just two types. 

Paper Transfer Decal

Every type of decal art is unique. However, there are certain things that you should consider before you choose.

Paper tapes are of paper with a face film covered with adhesives. They have translucent characteristics. That means they are partially transparent and opaque. Compared to other types of tapes, they are a cheaper option and have various tack levels.

Another outstanding feature of the paper tape decal is the characteristics of the film used. The film is porous. You might be wondering why this is even an advantage. Well, with this, it becomes easy to use with administration fluid. 

Using an application fluid usually causes a fluid trap and can become messy if not properly handled. However, with paper tape, this is not an issue because you can press it out from the film during transfer. It is only possible because of the nature of the film.

Paper decals can be used in various applications, be it indoor or outdoor. However, they have some disadvantages. Certain graphical qualities will forbid using paper tape.

Vinyl graphics with multi-colors are not compatible with paper tapes. This is because it is difficult to see through it during installation. Installing multiple-colored arts requires precision. So, you will need another type of tape for this purpose.

Clear or Transparent Transfer Decals

These tapes are called clear because of their films that are transparent and made from synthetic. It is convenient for DIY (Do It Yourself) installations. The transparency makes it easy to see the vinyl design underneath the tape.

An advantage of the clear tape over the paper tape is the clear view. Since you can see the underlying design with ease, it makes it easy to install. However, there are some drawbacks.

First, the plastic film, which is its best feature, causes its major setback. A wet tape application does not work well on clear tapes. It is because the face cannot absorb the fluid and can result in a messy job.

You need to be very careful when using a wet application method to install a clear tape decal. You must avoid using much of the fluid. It can spoil your work and make it less attractive. You can read this article to know more about clear tapes.

If you are looking forward to using clear tape for your decals, you should know this. The clear ones have a lower tack adhesive. It means that they will not be very effective for transferring certain types of vinyl.

Another setback of the plastic film tape is that they are static. In an arid environment, these plastic faces develop static charges. With this, they attract debris and dust that make it hard to have a bubble-free installation.

Finally, clear tape decals have limited usage. Compared to paper tapes, clear tapes are specific to their purpose. That means you cannot use a clear tape decal intended for vinyl art to press shirts. To use clear tape decals to suit this purpose, you will need one with a heat-resistant face.


A decal is a new form of graphic art. It has several applications. Anything that you can customize can have a vinyl graphic. You can find them on cups, t-shirts, cars, and seats.

There are several types of decals. However, choosing the one for your job is quite tricky. Each type of transfer sticker is unique and also has its disadvantages.



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