A Buying Guide for Sign-Making Self-Adhesive Vinyl

Views 2 Likes Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful
A Buying Guide for Sign-Making Self-Adhesive Vinyl

Signage is incredibly important for a variety of purposes, including providing information, keeping individuals safe, and attracting consumers and other individuals. Signs and signage are commonly seen in educational institutions, such as schools and libraries, as well as in hospitals, businesses, and government buildings.

Business owners or other individuals interested in making signs for their establishment have several different options to consider when looking at materials and may choose to use more than one signage option depending on where their signs are located and what type of information is included on the signs.

While some establishments may prefer to have ornate, lighted signs to advertise the name of their business, others may choose less expensive, yet still effective options such as vinyl signs. Vinyl signs are also ideal for advertising sales and special promotions or indicating where safety devices are located. Self-adhesive vinyl signs allow business owners to adhere signs virtually anywhere and can be made in a variety of shapes and styles with text, images, or both. When shopping for sign-making self-adhesive vinyl, there are several important things prospective buyers must keep in mind to get the best quality vinyl for all of their signage needs.

Brief History of Vinyl and Vinyl Signs

Although many individuals believe vinyl to be a relatively new creation, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has in fact been in existence since 1872. Eugen Baumann, a German chemist created PVC; however, Baumann never patented his invention. The first person to patent PVC was another German by the name of Friedrich Klatte, who invented a new way to create polymerized vinyl chloride using sunlight.

While the discovery and improvements of PVC are significant factors in the history of vinyl, the substance was not really declared useful until 1926 when Waldo Lonsbury Semon created a way to plasticise the PVC. Plasticising the vinyl made it infinitely easier to work with, thus presenting a usable product to the industrial world.

Vinyl Signs

While vinyl signage had been around prior to the 1960s, this is the decade when it became a popular option for signage material. Early vinyl signs often had grommets on all four sides so that they could be tied or affixed in place. Some users may have preferred to just nail the signs into place, but by using the grommets, individuals could be removed and reuse the signs without damaging them.

A variety of technical advances in the last several decades have led to even greater freedom where vinyl signage is concerned. Individuals can choose from a variety of colours, sizes, and custom fonts, and can even include photos and images on their signs. The incorporation of adhesives makes placing these signs even easier as well. Individuals who opt for self-adhesive vinyl signs can simply peel and stick them wherever they would like, which means no more worrying about where to tie off a vinyl sign or how to affix it so it stays put but does not get damaged.

Types of Vinyl for Signage

When shopping for self-adhesive vinyl for sign making, prospective buyers should be aware of the fact that there are several distinct types of vinyl used for signage. Which vinyl type or types is best for a specific sign depends on how and where the sign is used. Prospective buyers should take the time to think about this before they determine which type of vinyl to buy so that they do not end up wasting their money by purchasing vinyl that is not suitable for their specific application.

Gloss Vinyl

Ideal for colourful photographs and images, gloss vinyl has a shiny coating that allows a sign's true colours to shine. Gloss vinyl is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications, though bright sunlight and indoor lighting could create a glare on glossy vinyl making the sign difficult to see.

Matte Vinyl

Matte vinyl is also coated vinyl; however, the coating applied creates a matte finish rather than a glossy one. The coating applied to matte vinyl eliminates glare and is waterproof, which makes matte vinyl signs ideal for all applications, including those in extreme weather conditions.

Scrim Vinyl

Scrim vinyl is incredibly durable and is ideal for a wide range of applications and situations. The durability of scrim vinyl typically ensures that outdoor banners that are kept in one place, as is the case with self-adhesive signs, hold up and last longer than other types of vinyl.


When shopping for self-adhesive vinyl, prospective buyers need to consider both the type of vinyl and the type of adhesive used to make the sign. The chart below details the benefits of three vinyl types.

Vinyl Type



Vivid colours; suitable for outdoor use


Waterproof, glare-proof, and suitable for outdoor use


Durable, strong, and suitable for extreme weather conditions

Purchasing a high quality vinyl suitable for outdoor use and pairing it with a self-adhesive that is not suitable for outdoor use results in a sign that does not stay adhered in outdoor conditions. Prospective buyers should be sure to buy vinyl with durable, outdoor-approved self-adhesive if they plan to use their sign outdoors or in areas that are even partially exposed to the elements.

Applying Self-Adhesive Vinyl Signs

After spending the necessary time and money to research and purchase the perfect self-adhesive vinyl and turning it into a custom sign, the last thing an individual wants is to see that sign put in place with bubbles or wrinkles, or one that is falling off a short time later. Even though not all self-adhesive vinyl signs are expensive, it is still a hassle to have to purchase more than one sign because the original sign was not adhered to the surface properly. Before attempting to put up a vinyl sign, individuals should take a few moments to learn the proper way to adhere a sign to reduce the chance of bubbling and non-adherence.

Clean Surface

A dirty or oily surface can significantly impact how well a self-adhesive vinyl sign adheres. In addition, large particles of dirt or debris create bumps beneath the vinyl that could be visible. To prevent both of these issues, individuals should thoroughly clean the surface before attempting to apply their vinyl sign. A special cleaner does exist for use when applying vinyl signs; however, they are not entirely necessary.

Simple rubbing alcohol is also an effective and inexpensive cleaner that most individuals already have on hand. When cleaning the surface, individuals should use paper towels to clean and dry the surface because towels may have residue from detergent or fabric softener that could interfere with the adhesion of the sign.

Applying the Sign

Specific instructions on how to actually apply the vinyl sign may differ based on the specific adhesive used, so individuals should always read through the instructions provided with the sign before they begin this step. Most self-adhesive vinyl signs are simply peel and stick; however, there may be some types that require special vinyl adhering fluid.

Before moving on to the peel and stick phase, individuals should ensure that the sign is positioned in the correct position and that it is not crooked. When working with large signs, it may be necessary to have them broken into two or three sections to make working with them possible. If this is the case, ensure that each piece is applied level and that the pieces line up before actually adhering them to the surface.

Smoothing the Sign

Using a credit card or other item with a flat edge, start at the middle of the vinyl sign and work outward, applying light pressure to work out any bubbles that may have gotten underneath the vinyl. It is important for individuals to take their time with this step and be thorough; otherwise, the bubbles could grow and create problems.

Sign Maintenance

Harsh chemicals and cleaners may damage the vinyl sign, especially with repeated use, and could actually remove the print from the sign, so individuals who use vinyl signage should consult the manufacturer of the vinyl as well as the company that printed the sign to determine the best way to care for the sign. Typically, gentle cleansers, mild soaps, or plain water are fine and do not damage the sign, but individuals should check to be safe.

Shopping for Sign-Making Self-Adhesive Vinyl

Individuals interested in purchasing self-adhesive final for signage may be purchasing it for one of several reasons. These individuals may be ones who work for printing companies that produce vinyl signs on a regular basis, who have vinyl cutting equipment and want to make their own sign, or who want to have a sign made for them using a specific colour, vinyl type, or size that their printer does not carry.

Individuals who are interested in buying self-adhesive vinyl in bulk typically shop online through companies that specialise in these products, while those looking for smaller quantities may be able to buy from these companies, other vinyl printing companies, or sites like eBay. Before making a purchasing decision on any self-adhesive vinyl sign material, prospective buyers should ensure that they are purchasing the right type of vinyl and that there is a sufficient quantity of the style and colour they are interested in.

Buying Sign-Making Self-Adhesive Vinyl on eBay

If you want to browse the listings currently available on eBay sign-making self-adhesive vinyl, go to the site's main page and type in that phrase. Once the search results load, you can narrow down your options by condition, location, and shipping options, or you can simply browse the listings that appear. If you are looking for a specific type of vinyl or an exact colour, you could also include that in your search request; however, some sellers offer a variety of colours and they may not appear in your search results if you are too specific.

Before making a purchasing decision, prospective buyers should read through the listings carefully to determine what type of vinyl is being sold and what the ideal applications of that type of vinyl are so they know if it is acceptable to use outdoors and in extreme weather conditions. Prospective buyers should also review the seller's return policy to determine whether the vinyl can be returned unused if the purchaser is not happy with the colour or quality.


Self-adhesive vinyl signs are an inexpensive way to advertise special promotions and sales or to test out a new sign before investing in a permanent sign, as well as for everyday signage needs. Because they are inexpensive, they can be changed out as needed and may create or renew interest in a company. Shopping for sign-making self-adhesive vinyl does not have to be a daunting task, especially if consumers know what to look for.

The first step for any prospective buyer is to determine under what type of conditions the sign must endure as this information is necessary for selecting the correct type of self-adhesive vinyl for a sign. After that, most of the decisions are based on the prospective buyer's colour and style preferences, so there are no wrong choices. Learning about the different types of self-adhesive vinyl that are available ensures the prospective buyers can find the perfect sign-makings self-adhesive vinyl on eBay.

Have something to share? Create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides