Plastering a sticker on your laptop, toolbox, fridge or life-sized cardboard cutout of Alf is easy – but what if you want one on something curved like a helmet?
Everyone has seen a botched sticker job — bubbles, creases, torn corners, children crying — read on to discover some of my tried and tested methods of ensuring a good result
So what do I do?
It really depends on the type and size of the sticker you’re applying, the type of surface you’re applying it to, and how good you want it to look.
I’ve broken down some of my own preferred methods into a few key categories below, but before that, it’s worth mentioning a few obvious but often neglected tips.
If you skip these, you’re almost guaranteed to be unhappy with the result. They’re simple things that make all the difference.
- Check that the sticker will fit where you want it to
Before you do anything else, lay the sticker on top of where you want it to go. Does it fit?
- Clean the surface
It’s so simple and obvious, yet so often people skip this step. Not only will it make the result infinitely better to look at, it will help the sticker to adhere and make it last longer.
- Stop and think
- Are there any rules about where you want to place your sticker? (for example, your car windshield or company laptop might be against the rules).
- Will you damage the surface you’re sticking it to?
Our stickers are high-quality, long life stickers with adhesive to match. Avoid sticking them onto something like your granny’s antique furniture.
- Helmets are particularly susceptible to damage by heat and chemicals. Avoid using chemicals or heat to apply stickers. If you have questions, contact the manufacturer before applying anything.
Those things aside, let’s look at stickers on curved surfaces.
This isn’t a ‘rule’ but most people better results if they lay the the middle of the sticker down first, then work my their outwards. It helps preventing those ugly creases, crinkles and pesky bubbles.
The hair-dryer method
Use a hair dryer to heat the sticker up when trying to work it into tricky corners, or stretch it around strange curves. Unfortunately, this one takes a bit of practice.
You want to get the sticker warm enough so that it has a bit of stretch, but not so hot that you can’t touch it (or that it melts).
As mentioned above, be careful not to damage the surface that you’re applying the sticker to. In general, it’s a bad idea to use heat on a helmet.
One of the easiest and most forgiving methods. Simply add 1 drop of dish washing detergent or hand soap to 2-3 cups of warm water. Using a sponge or cloth, wet the destination surface with the solution.
Now you can apply the sticker, but it will be much more forgiving if you decide to peel it up and adjust it slightly (some surfaces will even let you slide the sticker around).
When you’re happy with where it sits, use a credit card wrapped in a soft cloth to press down on the sticker and squeegee the water out from underneath it. As above, it’s best to work from the center outwards.
This method should be avoided for paper-based stickers (unless you’re aiming for a soggy clump of paper).
Inevitably, even using the above methods, you’ll end up with a bubble from time to time.
Where possible, use a credit card wrapped in a soft cloth to press down on the sticker and squeegee the bubble out. As above, it’s best to work from the center outwards.
If this doesn’t work, use a sewing needle to put a tiny hole in the center of the bubble, then flatten it down using a finger.