How to apply the vinyl decals
This entry was posted on March 16, 2014.
Paige and her mom and dad recently stopped by so I could take pictures for a step-by-step guide on applying our high quality decals to baby helmets. We have instructions to how to remove the decals as well.
Your vinyl decals will come with transfer tape already applied to the front of the letters. The transfer tape, which is sticky and transparent, allows you to lift the vinyl decal off of its backing and transfer it to your child’s band.
Step 0 - are you painting your helmet? Please pop over to our painting guide!
Step 1 - separate the sheet of decals into each element. This will make applying them much easier. You can cut close to the decal on some sides, but leave a smidgen of space so you don't cut into the decals. It helps to cut larger decals closely to minimize the excess transfer tape. The transfer tape does not flex as easily as the decal when bending around curvature.
Step 2 - Either a) clean the outside of the baby helmet with rubbing alcohol, or b) I have started including a small square of sandpaper in orders. Please sand your band everywhere you expect to apply decals. You are not trying to dig to china, just to firmly roughen the surface. You should rub firmly enough that you feel some heat. A good band sanding should take about 5 minutes. A few customers have had issues with getting the Mod Podge to stick to the band even with the rubbing alcohol bath. Since it is easy, why take the chance?
Step 3a - added from customer feedback. Some decals are larger and need to be centered on the band. Use a pencil to mark the center line of the band to help you get them on straight.
Step 3b - Pick a small element that you have more of to start. It only takes a little practice to get adept at this, so the first element you try is the most likely you will make a mistake on. From one edge, slowly peel the transfer tape (the masking tape like material) from the backing (the slick stuff). The decal should stick to the transfer tape. Watch where the separation is happening, to make sure everything sticks to the transfer tape.
If something is not sticking to the transfer tape, you can stick the sides together and rub the transfer tape (a credit card works well) until the vinyl sticks to the transfer tape side.
Step 4 - Slowly stick the decal down. Start at one spot, and from there use your fingers to stick the decal down completely. Watch for bubbles or creases. If you have a bubble or crease, see if it is possible to lift up the vinyl to release. If not, use a credit card or squeegee to work it out.
Step 5 - A vinyl decal may appear to be stuck down firmly with just your fingers, but if possible, it really needs more pressure to firmly bond. Mom started with fingers, and finished with a credit card to bed the vinyl.
Step 6 - pull back the transfer tape and slowly remove. Mom demonstrates the correct method for this. Pull back slowly, not up, and watch the edge. If vinyl still wants to lift, pull the tape back over, and use fingers and a credit card to firmly stick down the vinyl. Then pull the tape off again.
Step 7 - Here is a boo-boo. A crease got put into this flower. We then demo what can be done about it, if the vinyl got stuck down too firmly to lift it off and release the crease.
Mom worked this crease out a little with the transfer tape still on, but it is easier to work a crease or bubble out with the tape removed.
Here mom works the crease with a credit card. Using the squeegee you can get fairly aggressive with the vinyl, as it is tough.
You can apply the decals with a credit card, but a blue squeegee makes the job easier. The squeegee is easier to grip, more flexible, and softer. The credit card can want to 'dig in' the vinyl, instead of sliding, while the squeegee likes to slide. *** Note from an unhappy customer - credit cards can have sharp edges and credit cards can actually scrape/cut off the printing. The advantages of the squeegee become most apparent in this case.
In this case the vinyl was so firmly stuck down before the crease was spotted, the crease could not be completely removed, but it is nearly invisible.
The experience was very enjoyable for mom, and Paige was a happier baby for it.
But my design has big decals like goggles or glasses!
If your design has goggles or glasses (or other large decals), please see our special application guide for goggles and glasses.
Pro tips on cleaning a Mod Podge'd band
Your band looks fantastic! I have a page of tips from experienced parents on how to clean the band and eliminate band smells. Quick note - washing mod podge with high percentage rubbing alcohol can damage the protective coating and is not needed.
Why do we recommend Mod Podge?
The #1 enemy of vinyl decals is friction. Run your fingernail along the band until you get to the decal. Feel the edge? Keep pulling, and eventually you will get the edge of the decal to lift. Active children are rubbing their heads on bedding, rugs, and furniture, and fabric rubbing on the decals, over time, is just like your fingernail, pulling and tugging on the decal edges.
We have had very few reports of damaged decals from folks who followed the Mod Podge application instructions (and we have been able to find a solution for them at no cost to them).
Mod Podge is:
• Easy to apply
• Easy to remove (removal won't damage decals)
• Hardly visible (most helmets in our picture gallery have it on)
• Protects decal points from breaking off
• Prevent the ink from sanding off
• Prevents the edges from lifting up
We recommend using five medium coats of “Mod Podge” as a sealer over the top of your decals and we have a Mod Podge application guide as mentioned above. You have enough Mod Podge thickness when your fingernail keeps sliding and does not catch on the decal edge. Not every design and child needs this, but most of the time you won’t know until it is too late. Reapplication every few weeks may be needed with active children. We recommend two coats at the time of initial decal application, two more the next day during the time your child is not wearing the band, and one last coat the day after.
Designs and lettering with thin or pointy parts (like the name Paige above or see the pictures below) are prime candidates for Mod Podge, as just a little rubbing will lift or shift the thin lettering, break off corners, or can even rub the ink off.
Without Mod Podge, damage happens fastest with active children who move more, and the damage will usually happen first on the back of the helmet where the rubbing generally happens most. Damage to unprotected decals can happen from just a few days to a few months.
Mod Podge is great at addressing each of the issues - it reduces pulling at the edge of the decal, protects the top of the decal from wear, and helps lock small parts in place!
Mod Podge is very safe and Non-Toxic. Please use the brush on Mod Podge (matte finish) and NOT the aerosol Mod Podge, our outdoor Mod Podge.
We recommend you put two coats on per day, the first two right after you apply the decals and before your child wears the band, and two more the next day, and the final coat the day after. This should fit the one hour per day your child is allowed to be bandless.
You may want to reapply the Mod Podge every other week or as needed.
If you would like to change the design, Mod Podge is easy to remove when applied to the proper thickness. Work an edge with your fingernail until it starts to lift up, and then you can pull it off in sheets.