How to Cut & Apply a Large Wall Decal (V3&V4)

…a wall decal in temporary adhesive vinyl.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.

My studio in the new house has a big empty wall.
I have a Silhouette machine.
And temporary adhesive vinyl.
And a saying I’ve been dying to put up in my creative space somewhere somehow.

Do you see where this is going? Yuppers, I have me a new wall decal. And I couldn’t be more pleased with it.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
I went all-in with a 5-footer. It’s quite different working with such a large design, but other than wishing I had a second pair of hands to help with the application, it was a breeze. I’m excited to share my process and free cut file with you, so you can add a quote (mine or yours) to a wall near you. Below you’ll find a photo-packed tutorial on how to cut a long decal on the Silhouette (with and without a mat!) and how to apply it. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps…they’re super simple and go quickly.

Here’s the quote I’ve been carrying around in my back pocket:

Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.

Isn’t that great? And so true. I can’t think of a single creative venture to which it doesn’t apply. The quote is from Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip. Inspiring words come from all kinds of places, so they do.

This post includes affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy HERE.

What you need…

 

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.Free File Download
Creativity & Art Silhouette .studio3 File
Creativity & Art Silhouette Legacy v2 File
Creativity & Art SVG File

 Note: These files were updated May 20/17 to correct the “ke” in “mistakes”. 

The design…

The free download file contains two versions of the design:
1). The finished design (no stars). Set this one aside. It’s for reference purposes.
2). The design divided into four pieces, each with stars. The stars are registration marks to help line everything up when applying the decal (I’ll show you how to do that later). Drag the pieces around and you’ll see the stars of one piece align perfectly with the stars on the adjacent pieces. This is the version to cut.

If you’ll be using vinyl colors other than teal and black, I encourage you to change the fill color in the file to match your choices. It’ll be a big help in making sure the right pieces get cut from the right colors.

If you’re working with your own design, and need help dividing it and adding registration marks to it, you can find my How to Divide a Large Wall Decal tutorial HERE.

Getting the right size…

The finished size of my wall decal is about 58″ x 15″, but go ahead and resize it to suit your space (to resize: line up the pieces, group them together (select them, right-click, choose ‘Group’ from the list), and drag a corner in and out to get the size you want).

To see whether the size is a good fit with your wall, print a sample of each font type & size and tape it to the wall. (To get a printable sample, copy the design in a new window and ungroup it (select it, right-click, choose ‘Ungroup’), then drag chunks of each text style into the printable area of your mat, and send to print). Take a step back to see if it’s appropriately sized and looks good. Here’s what my text sample looked like:

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.It was enough for me to see that the font was a good size for the wall and the viewing distance in the room. It also showed me that the font was bold enough so the saying wouldn’t get lost on the wall, and that the letters would be thick enough to cut well.

Choosing vinyl…

Do not use permanent vinyl (Oracal 651 or equivalent) for this project. It’ll apply just fine and look great, but removal will be a pain in the you-know-what. You’ll likely end up with peeled paint, and possibly damaged drywall or plaster.  When it comes to walls, temporary (removable) vinyl is the way to go. For this project, I used Oracal 631 (Teal) and General Formulations cc 500 MR (black). Avery, 3M and MacTac are other great brands I wouldn’t hesitate to use.

Cutting Part 1: with a mat…

Cut out Creativity and Art from teal vinyl, and is knowing which ones to keep from black vinyl. Because these parts are all shorter than 24″, I used a 12″ x 24″ mat. Here’s how my mats looked.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.Note the stars are included with each piece. Remember to adjust the settings for the larger mat so the machine will know to cut longer than 12″. To do that…

In Silhouette Studio Version 3: Click on the ‘Open Design Settings Window’ icon (A), change the page size ‘Height’ to 24.000 (B), and the ‘Cutting Mat’ to 12 x 24 in. (C).

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.In Silhouette Studio Version 4: Click on the ‘Open Page Setup Panel’ icon (D), change the page size ‘Height’ to 24.000 (E), and the ‘Cutting Mat’ to 12 x 24 in. (F).

How to cut & apply a large wall decal
In V3 & V4: The easiest way to avoid curling when removing a large sheet of vinyl from the mat is to flip the mat over and remove the mat from the vinyl. Curve the mat back onto itself with one hand while holding the vinyl down with the other (my real right hand is operating the camera), and peel off the mat.How to cut and apply a large wall decal.


Cutting Part 2: without a mat…

The remaining part of the saying—is allowing oneself to make mistakes—is longer than 24″. Since it’s too long for the mat, I went matless, oh, yes, I did. If you’ve never cut without a mat before, don’t be intimidated by the idea of going matless. It may feel like flying without a net, but it’s actually quite easy. This blog post was getting really long, so you can find the instructions for cutting without a mat HERE.

Weeding…

The advantage of cutting a large scale design is that weeding is easy peasy and goes fast. The other thing about large scale designs is that blank spaces are usually quite large. Oh, that wasted vinyl! What I usually do before weeding is cut out any large areas of uncut vinyl to use in future projects. You’ll see that on all of the pieces in this project. Here’s what my teal pieces looked like:

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.

Cleaning the wall…

In order for the decal to stick well, the wall area must be very clean. Clean it well with warm water. If your walls are pretty clean, that’s all you need. If there’s any hint of grease, fingerprints, or other grime, clean it off with warm soapy water, then rinse with clean water to remove any soap. Allow to dry. Any dampness will affect the adhesion, so make sure the wall is completely dry before continuing. I waited overnight.

Checking the layout…

Lay out the pieces on the floor to make sure it all fits together. In this photo, I’ve shifted the pieces so you can see the pairs of stars that will line up.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.If you want, you can also tape the pieces to the wall to check where you’d like it.

Applying transfer tape…

Apply transfer tape to the cut vinyl. I applied a strip of transfer tape to Creativity and is allowing oneself to make mistakes to start with and then reused the strips for the other two pieces later.

Applying to the wall…

Thanks to the star registration marks, if you get the first piece applied straight, the rest of the pieces will end up straight, too, so it’s worth spending the time to make sure the first part of the quote is on straight. Don’t settle. It’s going to be on the wall for a while. A few minutes spent now getting it right will save you from months or years of sighing and lamenting “Too bad it’s a little crooked.”

An extra person is handy for long decal application. One of you can hold a carpenter level in place while the other person positions the decal. I was the entire application team on this project and couldn’t manage all that (oh, my kingdom for a third hand!), so I used a metal measuring tape and blue painters tape instead. Here’s my process:

STEP ONE: Measure the same distance from the ceiling on either end of the decal and mark it with a piece of painters tape.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.How to cut and apply a large wall decal.STEP TWO: Line up the right side with the tape and hold the decal in place with the right hand while one finger presses it against the wall. Keeping the finger in place, use that spot as a pivot point to line up the left side using the other hand. Tape the decal in place. Check that it’s straight by measuring from the ceiling to the bottom of the letters at either end of the decal. If it’s not straight, repeat this step until it is.

STEP THREE: Place a strip of blue painters tape across the middle of the decal.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
STEP FOUR: Peel back one side of the transfer tape over the blue tape. The text should stick to the transfer tape, leaving the backing on the wall. Trim the backing close-ish to the blue tape.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
STEP FIVE: Slowly roll the transfer tape+vinyl onto the wall, smoothing it down with your hand as you go. Once it’s on, give the letters and stars a good rub with your fingers to make sure they’re nice and stuck.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
STEP SIX: Remove the blue tape (save it; you can reuse it on the other pieces) and roll back the transfer tape+vinyl+backing.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
STEP SEVEN: Remove the backing and slowly roll the transfer tape+vinyl onto the wall. Burnish (rub with good pressure) all over with a squeegee.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
STEP EIGHT: Remove the transfer tape. Go slowly, pulling the tape right back onto itself. I find it works best when the fold is at an angle to the text.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
And ta-da! The first piece is applied.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
STEP NINE:
Trim the backing from the stars area on Creativity. Then line up the teal stars exactly with the black stars. There’s no need to measure the placement of this piece—the first piece is on straight, so if you align the next pieces with it (using the stars!) they’ll be on straight, too.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
STEP TEN: Add a piece of blue painters tape across the stars. Do not cover the backing.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
Peel back the transfer tape+vinyl+backing, remove the backing…

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
and as you did with the first piece, roll the transfer tape+vinyl onto the wall smoothing it down with your hand as you go. Remove the blue tape, burnish the design well, and remove the transfer tape as in STEPS SEVEN & EIGHT.

STEP ELEVEN: Repeat STEPS NINE & TEN for the the other two pieces, first is knowing which ones to keep, then Art. Apply the “hinge” painters tape wherever it works best for you. I tried to keep it off the already applied vinyl, so I got a bit creative. Here’s how I did the third piece.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
After the third piece is applied (it was hard to get a good photo because of the window on the right):

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
STEP TWELVE:
When all four pieces have been applied, remove the stars, and yo, you’re done.

How to cut and apply a large wall decal.
That’s all there is to it. Have fun installing your own large wall quote!

effCheers!

–Eff

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6 thoughts on “How to Cut & Apply a Large Wall Decal (V3&V4)

  1. HI EFF!
    Thanks for sharing your inspiration, hard work, and experience with us!
    I look forward to creating a wall decal, and this file is just what I needed to get going…
    Question….When I download the”Free File Download
    Creativity & Art Silhouette .studio3″File , the last letters of “mistakes”come out with a jumble of two fonts, and neither one is the cool one which you show in your finished work? I am using a Cameo… Edition 3.6.57ssde ( if that means anything… ) I have noticed that sometimes items don’t go away like we intend, as we create, and I’m wondering if that is what has happened here? (I wish I could show you how it looks, but that just does’t seem possible !) I’ll save the file, and if you get around to checking this dilemma out, please let me know what I may have done wrong here ?
    Thanks again for your kindness in sharing with folks ! :-)
    Laura B Baxter

    1. Hi LAURA! :^)

      Good news… it’s me, not you…and it’s fixed. :^) The “ke” in “mistakes” looks funny for you because it’s in the file as a text box and you don’t have that font on your computer. To solve this problem, I change text boxes to objects before uploading for others to use, but this time I missed the ‘ke’. I’ve gone in and changed it and uploaded a new version with ‘ke’ object-ized. It should work properly now. Please let me know if it doesn’t. Thanks so much for telling me about this so I could fix it!

    1. You’re very welcome, Pat!

      Yes, such a great quote. I love seeing it on my wall. It reminds me to be a little kinder to myself when something doesn’t go quite according to plan…it’s all part of the creative process. :^)

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