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How to Make Car Decals At Home

How to Make Car Decals At Home: Step By Step Guide

Car decals are a great way of sharing with the world what you love.

While there are many sellers for car decals out there, most of them sell them at exaggerated prices and have expensive shipping rates.

Luckily, you can come up with your own car decals at home and save yourself some money while being able to customize your decal according to your own preferences.

In this post, we’ll share with you two main methods of making a car decal—how to make vinyl car decals by hand and how to make car decals with Cricut.

How to Make Vinyl Car Decals by Hand

If you don’t have a vinyl cutter, there’s nothing to worry about. Our first method will take you through the process of successfully making a window decal for your car or truck without a cutter machine.

First you will need to prepare the following:

  • Your design
  • Adhesive-backed vinyl (choose your preferred color)
  • Cutting surface
  • Scotch tape
  • X-Acto knife
  • Tweezers and scissors
  • Transfer tape

1. Prepare your design. You can come up with a design for your Photoshop software or even cut a design from something you saw.

Once you’ve got your image on a piece of paper with your preferred size, cut it with around half an inch margin (consider using this as a template and holding it up to the surface where you plan to stick it to ensure it’s the right size and the placing will look good).

2. Now grab your vinyl and cut a piece out of it that’s half-inch bigger than your design. If your design is curly, you might want to tape it to the cutting surface to make your job even easier.

Now tape your template to the vinyl in as many places as possible. If there’s a big empty space in the middle of the design, consider cutting a hole in it and taping the middle as well.

The whole idea of taping will make the paper more stationary and easier to cut.

3. Time to cut your design. Depending on the size and complexity of your design, the cutting process might become tedious for you. Smaller designs usually take a long time to cut.

A few tips to keep in mind when cutting your design:

  • Cut the inner designs first
  • Making deeper cuts is better. Let the thickness of your vinyl and template paper guide you in knowing how deep to cut
  • In case you make any cutting mistakes, wait until you take off your template to correct it

4. Picking up your cut design.

As long as you have made your cuts well, picking up the image won’t be hard. You can choose to start from an outside piece or negative space and the rest of the cut out will solve itself.

For designs with complex edges, you should start by cutting the border into several sections for easy removal.

Use tweezers to pick up your design.

5. Apply the transfer tape to your decal. And when doing so, make sure your decal remains flat to avoid distortions that can seriously ruin your car decal.

Start the taping process at one end and roll it down slowly, following the tape with your fingers to ensure it’s completely flat and there aren’t any bubbles or creases.

When you’re done taping, trim it with a pair of scissors to around ½-inch from the decal and leave one end overlapping. This will not only help with decal placement but will also make it easy to take off the backing.

6. Finally, apply your decal to your car. Start by cleaning the surface and then place your decal and secure the overlapped tape side. The overlap should be large enough to securely hold your decal in place so that it doesn’t move when removing the backing.

When the decal is well sat, take the backing off and roll it down while ensuring it goes down even while minimizing air bubbles. Firmly press your decal to make it stick well and rub it all over to make sure every little piece gets covered.

How to Make Vinyl Car Decals With Cricut

If you have a Cricut cutting machine, this method is for you.

The supplies you’ll need for the job include:

  • Cricut cutting machine (we’ll use Cricut Explore Air 2 for this post)
  • Premium outdoor vinyl
  • Transfer tape, and
  • Scrapper tool

1. Prepare your design. You can get a wide range of options from the Cricut Design Space or you can upload your own image for cutting.

If you go with your own image, make sure you upload it to your computer (if it’s not there already and then follow these quick steps to upload it the cutting machine):

  • Go to Cricut Design Space and click new project. On the left sidebar, click the upload button.
  • Click on upload image and you’ll be prompted to choose your image type as simple, moderately complex, or complex.
  • Now select all the areas of your image that you don’t intend to be part of your final cut. It’ll turn into a white and blue checkerboard
  • Select your design as cut image to give you a preview of what the cut image will look like. If you need to make more changes, simply click the back button.
  • If the image is ok, approve it and you’ll be taken to the initial upload screen, where you can see your already cut file. Click on this image to highlight it and then click insert image. This will take you to an area where you can adjust the size and direction of your design before you can finally cut it.

2. After you’ve cut your image, make sure you remove the excessive vinyl.

3. Grab your transfer tape and apply a layer on the cut vinyl design. The tape lets you easily place your vinyl without allowing any piece to stretch or get out of place.

4. Clean the surface on which you wish to put your decal. After cleaning, you might consider wiping the area with alcohol to remove any fingerprints or grease.

5. Applying your decal.  Peel back the vinyl paper backing slowly to ensure all parts of your design release from the sheet. Apply the vinyl to your car surface then start at one end and put down the vinyl in a rolling motion for even placement and to minimize air bubbles.

With the help of a scraper tool, push out any air bubbles that might have been trapped underneath the vinyl.

Lastly, peel back the transfer tape and enjoy your job!

See Related Topic: How to Make Decals for Shirts – A Guide


These are the two common methods for applying decals to your car. Both methods are easy to follow for anyone and can be used to make all types of design, including the most complex ones.

If you don’t have a Cricut machine, stick to the first method which involves making decals by hand. The second method is a lot easier than the first one since it uses a Cricut machine.

Remember that making your own decals will save you a few bucks while enabling you to fully customize your car decals according to your preferences.

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.


  1. I would like to make a multi-colored car decal. Is there any special vinyl or printer needed for this?

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