How Die-Cut Wall Decals Are Made and Applied

Before I got into the vinyl graphics business, I wasn’t quite sure how die-cut decals were applied. How did they get the phone number so straight on a truck? Or how was that intricate logo die-cut logo applied to a wall allowing the wall color to show through?

Now, having been in the business for over 16 years and understanding the process, I forget that our consumers don’t always comprehend how their custom wall decals are made. I thought I’d try to explain both how, and why, they are so easy to apply.

So, let’s take the Nike logo. It’s mostly letters and a swish, right? Well what if I wanted the wall color to show through where the letters were absent?

Some may think that we would print the decal on clear vinyl. That would make sense right? The color of the wall would show through and it would be easy to apply.

But in all honesty, do you think that would look professional? In some lighting, you know you would be able to see where the clear tape ends and that would look, well… tacky.

So then the only option would be to die cut each letter right?

That wouldn’t be too difficult for our logo, especially if the wall decal were to be very large – for a lobby or conference room.

But what if the lettering were smaller? Or what if we wanted to include the smaller text “Adhere to your style” in the decal? That text is script and much smaller and thinner than the letters in our logo.

That’s where a three layer mask comes in. Here’s how it works.


So the vinyl is either printed and cut, or die cut from a solid color vinyl sheet. It comes off the machine still held together by the backing because the blades are set to only cut the vinyl and not through the paper backing.

Then it’s time to “weed” the vinyl. Weeding is when someone takes a tweezer or a pointed pick tool and pulls off each piece that is not needed. So in our logo example, we would need to weed everything around the logo, including the inside of the “e.”

Then, the only part left on the paper backing would be the logo.

So how do we get that logo from the backing paper to our wall? Here’s where the third layer comes in.

Next, we take clear transfer tape and apply it over the entire decal. (It’s important to know what the decal will be applied to so that the correctly transfer tape is used.)

In our case, we now ship the custom wall decal out to our customer.


And all our customer needs to do to apply the decal to their wall, is simply peel off the paper backing.

Once the backing paper is removed, the adhesive side of the decal is exposed. The logo or decal is held together by the clear transfer tape and can easily be applied in as if it were one decal.

Once the decal has been squeegeed onto the wall, the customer simply grabs one corner of the transfer tape, and slowly pulls it at a 90 degree angle. Like magic, the decal stays on the wall and the clear transfer paper becomes trash.

And there you have it – a three layer mask.