How to Transfer Vinyl to Transfer Tape

Table of Contents

If you’re a first-time crafter, you may have encountered the words ‘transfer tape’ several times, but what is it for? You’ve landed this page because you’re trying to find answers on how to transfer vinyl to transfer tape. 

Today, you’re going to get the answers you need. To give you an initial idea, to transfer vinyl on a transfer tape, remove the transfer tape’s backing, and place it over the adhesive vinyl. That’s it! 

It may sound simple, but you’ll learn the step-by-step instructions and some tips on how to stick vinyl and transfer tape properly.

What’s a Transfer Tape For?

transfer tape

Purple grid transfer tape from TeckWrap Craft

Before stepping in, you need more information about transfer tapes. The photo and screenshot above are what a transfer tape looks like in case you haven't worked with one before. It comes in rolls or in sheet packs. 

Basically, a transfer tape is used to transfer the vinyl design going to the merchandise. Why? You can’t directly stick the adhesive vinyl to the merchandise especially if it has a complicated design. Consider the transfer tapes as a means of transporting the design to the merchandise. 

Transfer tapes also called application tape, are made of two sides — a removable paper backing (bottom layer) and the adhesive side made of sticky plastic or paper film (top layer). As seen in the screenshot above, the backing sheet is removed and placed directly above the craft vinyl. 

Another thing you need to know about transfer tapes is it comes in different sizes, and appearance, and may differ when it comes to their grip. Transfer tapes are widely used for crafting especially when you’re working with craft adhesive vinyl. Here’s how you can choose from the transfer tapes product available. 

Clear Plastic or Paper Backing Transfer Tape?

As mentioned, transfer tapes come in different forms. One notable distinction is the top layer — paper or plastic film. Some products are made of either a clear plastic film or a paper transfer tape. If you ever tried working with both materials before, you may notice the main difference between their clarity, stickiness, and flexibility. 

So which product would you choose? Is the one made of a clear plastic top layer or one with a paper top? To be honest, clear tapes are easier to work with because you can see through them. Thus, it’s easier to layer especially when working with multiple layers of vinyl and easy label placement. 

Also, clear plastic films are more flexible and easier to work with as compared to top layers made of paper. Plus the stickiness and strength of clear plastic transfer tapes are stronger. Although you can work with transfer tapes made of the paper top layer, it can be quite challenging as compared to working with clear plastic film. 

Standard Grip vs Strong Grip Transfer Tape?

Transfer tapes come in standard or strong grips as well. What do you choose? For regular adhesive vinyl, you can use the standard grip transfer tape without encountering any problem. For specialty or heavier vinyl like glitter, it’s recommended to use a strong grip transfer tape. 

Can you use strong grip transfer tapes on regular vinyl? It’s highly frowned upon, especially by expert crafters. Strong grip transfer tapes might be challenging to work with regular vinyl as it may be too sticky and hard to separate away from the vinyl. 

On the other hand, if you use a regular transfer tape with glitter vinyl, the tendency is, that the vinyl won’t separate from the transfer tape, thus the project may get ruined. That’s why it’s better to follow the recommendations above rather than risk the whole project going to waste. 

Grid Lines: Yes or No?

Transfer tapes come with grid lines or with none. What’s a better product to use? If you want to ensure proper lining and placement of the vinyl, it’s better to use transfer tapes with grid lines. The grid lines will serve as your guide markings to ensure proper placement. 

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Transfer Vinyl to Transfer Tape

By this point, you’re now aware of the options of the transfer tapes you can choose from. In a nutshell, it’s recommended to buy transfer tape with a plastic top layer and with grid lines. Also, standard grip transfer tapes are recommended for regular vinyl. 

Meanwhile, strong grip transfer tapes are recommended for specialty or heavy transfer vinyl. Without further ado, here are the step-by-step instructions on how to transfer vinyl to the transfer tape.

how to transfer vinyl to transfer tape

Image from TeckWrap Craft’s Facebook Page

Supplies Needed

If you plan on creating craft projects like vinyl stickers on tumblers, mugs, or just like the image above here are the supplies you need to gather:

  • Electronic cutting machine (Silhouette, Cricut, or Brother)
  • Permanent adhesive vinyl
  • Transfer tape 
  • Scissors or cutter
  • Weeding tool
  • Cutting mat
  • Squeegee or credit card
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clean cloth
  • The merchandise you want to personalize

Step 1: Cut the Design

transfer tape

Screenshot from Beginner Craft Tutorial | Customize a Libbey Cup with TeckWrapCraft Adhesive Vinyl by teckwrapcraft

Of course, your first step is to upload and cut the design on the cutting machine’s design space. Remember, do not mirror permanent vinyl! If your design has multiple layers of colors, finish cutting all the designs before going to the next step.

Step 2: Weed the Excess Vinyl

                       how to transfer vinyl to transfer tape

Screenshot from Beginner Craft Tutorial | Customize a Libbey Cup with TeckWrapCraft Adhesive Vinyl by teckwrapcraft using TeckWrap Craft’s Weeding Tool

As soon as you finished cutting all the vinyl decals, it’s time to weed the excess vinyl using a weeding tool or a tweezer. When weeding excess vinyl, remove all unwanted parts of the design you don’t want to be transferred to your merchandise.

Step 3: Clean the Desired Location on the Project

how to transfer vinyl to transfer tape

Screenshot from Beginner Craft Tutorial | Customize a Libbey Cup with TeckWrapCraft Adhesive Vinyl by teckwrapcraft

The next step is to clean the merchandise where you want to stick the vinyl. Clean the project surface using rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth. After cleaning it, avoid touching the surface and set it aside.

Step 4: Apply Transfer Tape to the Vinyl

how to transfer vinyl to transfer tape

Screenshot from TeckWrap Craft’s YouTube page: DIY Mother's Day Gifts Tutorial Using TeckWrapCraft 001 Series Vinyl

  • Start with cutting the proper size of the transfer tape to avoid waste. 
  • Desirably, cut the transfer tape slightly larger than the vinyl decal size. 
  • Lay the vinyl flat on your workstation, better if it’s still on the cutting mat. 
  • Use the grid lines of the transfer tape as guide marks to ensure proper alignment of the design (especially when layering multiple types of vinyl).
  • Start with the top portion of the transfer tape and peel the bottom layer slowly. Don’t peel off the whole backing paper just yet.
  • Start sticking the transfer tape to the vinyl, start slowly pulling back the bottom layer and stick the top layer of the transfer tape to the vinyl.
  • Make sure to stick the transfer tape slowly and use a squeegee (or credit card) to flatten the surface. Avoid getting into a rush as it may form wrinkles and air bubbles. 
  • Once the vinyl and transfer tape are stuck properly, use a squeegee to flatten the surface, remove bubbles and ensure the vinyl is transferred properly to the transfer tape. Do this process in front and the back of the decal.
  • Do not remove the transfer tape and the backing sheet of the vinyl just yet!
  • If you’re working on multiple layers of vinyl, make sure to watch this video: How to Layer a Challenging Design?

Step 5: Apply Vinyl to the Merchandise


how to transfer vinyl to transfer tape
Screenshot from TeckWrap Craft’s YouTube page: DIY Mother's Day Gifts Tutorial Using TeckWrapCraft 001 Series Vinyl

  • With the transfer tape and backing sheet still intact, place it over the merchandise to ensure correct sizing and placement. 
  • If you’re satisfied, stick the exposed part of the transfer tape to the merchandise while slowly removing the backing sheet of the vinyl. 
  • Slowly transfer the design to the merchandise, use a squeegee if necessary.
  • If you’re comfortable directly sticking the vinyl to the merchandise (like the screenshot above), then do so. Directly stick the design like a sticker. 
  • Once you’re done transferring the design, don’t throw the transfer tape just yet, set it aside and place a parchment paper over it so you can reuse it. 

There you have it! Surely, your final project is going to look amazing! You can stick adhesive vinyl directly on acrylic, plastic, or glass surfaces. There are many vinyl types available at TeckWrap Craft. You can choose from color-changing vinyl, glitter, Christmas plaid, and many more. 

Tips When Using Transfer Tape

For vinyl projects, you may encounter problems along the way, especially when using a transfer tape. That’s why knowing tips on using transfer tape will go a long way to avoid errors and of course any waste. Here are some tips when using transfer tape: 

Tip #1: Fold the Backing Instead of Removing It Completely

For good placement and application, rather than completely removing the backing of the transfer tape, fold one edge first. Expose only little parts of the transfer tape so you can carefully position it, without the sticky part getting stuck prematurely. 

Tip #2: Smooth Out the Transfer Tape Well to the Vinyl

Always smooth out the transfer tape down to the vinyl using a squeegee or use a credit card. You want to prevent forming air bubbles or wrinkles during the transfer process. Bubbles or wrinkles may cause the vinyl decal to not completely stick to the transfer tape. You might encounter problems later on while creating the project. 

Tip #3: Recycle the Transfer Tape

The good news about transfer tapes is you can reuse them! After transferring the vinyl design to the merchandise, you can do either one of two things to preserve the transfer tape:

  • Stick it on top of your transfer tape roll (the unused ones)
  • Place a parchment paper underneath it

Transfer tape can be used multiple times, around 2-4 times. So when you peel off the transfer tape, don’t throw it away just yet. Keep it so you can use it for the next project. 

Tip #4: For Curved Surfaces, Try Snipping the Transfer Tape

There’s no challenge when applying vinyl on a flat surface, just place it like a sticker. However, if you’re sticking the transfer tape on curved surfaces, like glasses or tumblers, try snipping the transfer tape. This neat little trick avoids causing wrinkles on the vinyl decal. Use scissors to clip through the transfer tape. 

Tip #5: What to Do When the Vinyl and Transfer Tape Doesn’t Come Off Easily

If the transfer tape doesn’t come off easily from the vinyl, it can be tricky. To avoid that, with a squeegee, use firm pressure and rub the vinyl to the transfer tape firmly. Do this in both front and back. 

If this still doesn’t work, probably, you’re using the wrong transfer tape (grip-wise). Once again, use standard grip transfer tape with regular vinyl. For specialty or heavier vinyl, use a strong grip transfer tape. 

Tip #6: You Can Stick It Directly!

hwo to transfer vinyl

Screenshot from TeckWrap Craft’s YouTube page: DIY Mother's Day Gifts Tutorial Using TeckWrapCraft 001 Series Vinyl

You can directly remove the paper backing of the vinyl for small designs like this. For bigger designs, it’s always better to slowly place the design rather than sticking it directly to the project surface. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Transfer Tape Necessary?

Yes, transfer tape is necessary when creating projects using craft vinyl. Transfer tapes are necessary especially for multi-layered vinyl decals. Without a transfer tape, it’s hard to transfer the vinyl to the merchandise. 

What Else Can I Use as Transfer Tape?

If you don’t have a transfer tape, you can use a painter’s tape or a lint remover instead. These options may not be as good and sticky as a transfer tape, but they will do the trick. Some crafters use scotch tape as a substitute for transfer tape as well. 

Why Do You Use Transfer Tape for Vinyl?

You use transfer tape for vinyl projects in order to transfer the vinyl decal going to the merchandise. Without a transfer tape, it may be hard to transfer the vinyl decal to the merchandise. 

Do You Use Transfer Tape with Iron-on Vinyl?

No, you do not use transfer tape with iron-on vinyl or heat transfer vinyl (HTV). Heat transfer vinyl already has a plastic carrier sheet above it. Simply press the vinyl directly to the garment and remove the carrier sheet. You can use transfer tape for heat transfer vinyl when you’re trying to visualize a multi-layered design. 

Is Transfer Tape and Transfer Paper the Same Thing?

Transfer tape and transfer paper are two different things. Transfer tape and transfer paper are terms used simultaneously, but they are different. A transfer tape is used to transfer vinyl to merchandise. Transfer paper is used for t-shirt printing, such as light transfer paper and dark transfer paper printed using a pigment ink printer. 

What’s a Great Transfer Tape Brand?

There are plenty of transfer tape brands out there. There’s the Cricut transfer tape, Silhouette transfer tape, and many more. One of the top and recommended brands is the TeckWrap Craft’s Transfer Tape.

It’s every crafter’s dream and is a great transfer tape for adhesive vinyl application. TeckWrap Craft has four transfer tape products that come in 12"x10ft rolls:

  • Matte Transfer Tape: Best for layering and works with most of our vinyl 
  • Purple and Grey Grid Tape: Medium tack 
  • Yellow Grid Tape: High tack and works with glittered vinyl

Wrapping It All Up!

That’s everything you need to know on how to use transfer tape. Just remember, when working on a transfer tape, especially when transferring designs, do it slowly. Also, recycle the transfer tape if you can if still has adhesiveness on it. This way, you can avoid wasting transfer tape use and save money.

There are a lot of project ideas you can do with a craft vinyl and a piece of transfer tape. There’s no limitation when it comes to your creativity. If you want to learn more project ideas, check out TeckWrap Craft’s Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest pages. Happy crafting! 

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