Easy steps to correctly apply transfer stickers.

What are transfer stickers?

Over the years our customers have asked us for stickers “with no background” or stickers that are cut to a specific shape. They often seem to not know what these stickers are called or how to apply them correctly leading to failure and frustration. These stickers are called transfer stickers and this article aims to provide a complete guide on how to successfully apply these transfer stickers yourself.

Transfer stickers vs regular stickers

Transfer stickers are different than normal sticker as they are cut into shapes, designs, graphic or text and the background is removed, it can be applied using either the dry or wet application method, although the wet method takes a loner amount of time.

While other stickers are made up of 2 parts, the back film and the sticker with the adhesive, a transfer sticker is made up of 3 parts, the back film, the sticker with the adhesive in the middle and a masking paper at the front which is used to cover and hold the sticker during application.

The Application Process

In this article we will be specifically looking at the dry application method due to our client request but if you’d like to learn the wet application method then you can check out our other article about the subject matter here. 


The first process of any sticker application is cleaning the surface area. Take some soap water, a clean cloth and gently wash the area before wiping it dry, this helps remove any residue and dirt from the surface which would stick to the adhesive preventing it from binding with the surface. Wooden surfaces can be sanded and smoothened out before applying the sticker.


  • Take and place the tape with the sticker onto the surface, you can use masking tape to hold the sticker in place.
  • Once satisfied with the position, peel off the backing film from one side of the sticker. The transparent application film at the front will hold the sticker together while it is applied onto a surface.
  • This transparent film contains adhesive which will help adhere the sticker to the surface.
  • Use a plastic card or a squeegee to apply pressure evenly across the tape starting from one side, make sure there are no air bubbles as you do this. Start from one side or the middle and more towards the edges.
  • Once set leave the sticker for a few minutes so that it is properly set.

Finishing up

After the sticker is properly set, raise the edges of the transfer tape, and peel it off slowly at an angle while making sure the sticker itself stays on the surface and not on the tape.

What are the cons of transfer stickers?

Sticker not transferring/sticking to the surface

One of the main problems faced is the sticker not transferring onto the surface or getting stuck onto the transfer tape itself, this is a common problem that is easily fixed.

  • First is to make sure the surface is clean and smooth before the sticker is placed on the surface. Dirt and pollutants can effect the adhesive strength.
  • Remember to peel the transfer slowly and at an angle, apply pressure from one edge to the other or from the middle outwards.
  • If a part of the sticker does not adhere to the surface, then put the transfer paper back on and use the squeegee to apply pressure and peel it off again. Always pull the transfer sticker slowly and at an angle.

Bits of sticker getting stuck on the back paper

Another issue that people face is the sticker not coming off the the backing paper. We at Signprint we use medium tack adhesive on the transfer film to prevent this issue but if this happens to your sticker you can try the following.

  • Take the sticker and place it on a flat surface with the backing facing upwards.
  • Use a squeegee or a plastic card to apply pressure across the surface and slowly peel off the backing making sure the sticker and all its parts adhere to the transfer film instead.
  • Apply pressure and check if the image has transferred, if not then put the backing film back down and apply more pressure.
  • Bending the backing film while the sticker is stuck on it can cause the sticker’s edges or corners to peel off, you can then use your nails or a flat object to peel the sticker off.

Air Bubbles

A common and a rather frustrating issue faced by many, air bubbles  appear on the sticker surface after they apply their sticker. This happens if the surface is not initially cleaned, if the method of application was wrong or the sticker was not given enough time to set.

  • This problem can be easily solved if the application processes is done correctly.
  • Clean the surface before applying the sticker, use soapy water and a clean cloth to wipe the surface.
  • When using the squeegee try to “push” the air out from under the sticker.
  • Let the sticker set for more than 20 minutes before removing the transfer tape. Peel slowly at an angle and once completely off make sure that the sticker is set in place correctly.
  • Leftover tiny air bubbles usually disappear over time.

If you want an in-depth explanation on how to remove air bubbles then check this article. It also provides alternative methods to achieve the same.

Still Having problems?

The process of applying a sticker can be daunting, especially when you don’t know much about stickers, hence if you require information on stickers, want assistance applying one or want to request a quote then you can contact us at 1300 627 548 or sales@signprintaustralia.com.au. Check out our other useful articles and instructional here or connect with us on our social media platforms.

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