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Sunday, January 23, 2011

How To: Faux Vinyl (made from clear contact paper)

Introducing...(drum roll please)...
Faux Vinyl

Want vinyl?

Don't want to pay full price for it?  ...Yes.

(keep reading)

Did you know that you can use contact paper to save money?  ...Yes/NO.

(keep reading)

People use contact paper as vinyl in their vinyl cutting machines all the time (it's cheaper).

What if you don't have a vinyl cutting machine?
(cricket, silhouette,etc.)

(keep reading)

Did you know you can use contact paper and cut your own vinyl (without a machine)?...No.

Yes!!!!!  Yes you can!!!!!

I DID!!!


I wanted our last name up on the wall in our living room.  I wanted it large and beautiful...
but, as you know I don't want to pay full price.  I knew that I could do it.  I just needed to figure out how.

I don't have a vinyl cutter (so sad). 
I love vinyl as much as the next person but just can't get myself to buy one. 
So...I set out to do it on my own.

Here is how I did it...

1.  I bought clear contact paper (I wanted black contact paper but couldn't find any in my area).  I didn't want to buy it online.  If you know me, I won't buy something "special" if I can figure out how to make it myself.   FYI-clear contact paper is cheaper than black.

Contact Paper = $1 (Dollar Tree)

I tested the contact paper using acrylic and spray paint.  
I sanded to prep the surface (one sample for each type of paint) and the other I didn't.   

One hour later I did a scratch test.  They weren't fully dry so they scratched.
I left them to dry over night and scratch tested them again.  They all held up well (no scratch marks).
I decided to use the NO PREP SPRAY PAINT method...the easiest method (of course).

2.  I laid the contact paper out on newspaper and used tape and rocks to hold it open.  I sprayed it using our good old trusty Walmart brand $1 spray paint.  I did 2 light coats to prevent dripping, letting it dry overnight between each coat.  I ran out of spray paint so I actually had to buy some:(

Spray Paint = $1 (Walmart)

(depending on the quality of your screen you may not be able to see the font in the pictures)

3.  I went on the computer to find a font I liked and got it hubby approved (I changed the font to outline style).  Then I traced a horizontal line along the bottom of the lettering, along the top and through the middle (at the top of the lower case letters).    I folded the paper in half (vertically and horizontally), and again and again until I got a
grid of squares and then traced the folds.

4. I taped your basic computer printing paper together to match the size of the contact paper (to be used as my pattern).

5. I created a grid on the computer paper to match the grids on my font paper.  This is a technique used by artists to take a smaller image and enlarge it.  I'm sure you probably remember doing this back in school in art class.
Here you can see where I went back and made a grid on my font paper to make it easier to see the grids
(just for you...cuz I love ya). 

6. I used the boxes on the font paper to help me enlarge the image.  I copied the picture in each box from the font paper onto the larger paper (drawing it the same just bigger).   When I was done copying the boxes I went back and smoothed out the image (connecting the lines smoother, checked spacing, etc.)  When I liked what it looked like I colored it in with a marker to make it easier to see.

Here we are checking it out.  Love it!

7. I trimmed the pattern and taped it onto the sprayed contact paper. 

8.  I cut out the pattern and the contact paper using a utility knife/exact knife/box cutter with a cardboard underneath (and it cuts right through)-which isn't necessarily a problem.  I also cut part of it without a backing (cutting directly onto the cement). Each technique gives you different results.

Cardboard behind-cuts through the pattern, contact paper, and backing of the contact paper.
Nothing behind-cuts through the pattern and contact paper but not the backing of the contact paper.
But...of course all of this varies based on the amount of pressure you use when cutting.  You may want to practice before doing a giant sized one (like me).
FYI-I didn't practice or try it out on anything. 
I just did it...that's how I am. 
I like to do it and learn along the way. 
I think it's fun.

Getting it up on the wall is the tricky part.  Why is it tricky?  Because you need to take your time and go slowly.  I was running behind schedule for a meeting but wanted to get it up (because I was so excited) I totally forgot to take pictures along the way.  I know that pictures are worth a thousand words.  Bare with me as I try to explain.

9.  Prep the wall.  I marked my living room wall marking the center and where I wanted the bottom of the lettering to go.  We decided we wanted the top of the lettering to be one foot from the ceiling.  I drew a horizontal line marking where the bottom of the lettering would go.

10.  I removed the pattern from the contact paper and drew a horizontal under line under each of the letters (stretching beyond the letter to the left and right).  This is the line that I use to line up to the line on the wall (the line that I made in step #9).

11.  I checked the backing of the contact paper. 
Some of the areas had cut through the backing so I taped it together.

12.  I taped the contact paper to the wall using the under line of the lettering to match up to the line I drew on the wall.

13.  I slowly peeled the back of the contact paper (from behind) one section at a time and adhered it to the wall.  As I finished a section I would remove the outer area surrounding the letter before moving on to the next section.  This took time and patience.  There were areas that didn't cut all the way through.  I did have to use my box cutter/scissors here and there.  I did it with all the kids I lost my patience a few times and a couple of kids got a good yelling at....thus no pictures.  Maybe next time I'll have the kids take the pictures?  That might be a good idea.  You never know.

14.  I took a step back and looked for areas that needed a little tweaking.  Remember this is hand cut and not perfect...but I love it!  I just peeled the small area off the wall, gave it a good trim with my handy dandy scissors and stuck it back on. 

Faux vinyl (4 feet by 1.5 feet)

Time = FREE
Patience = um....FREE
Contact Paper = $1
Spray Paint = $1

Grand Total = $2

I got an estimate from someone in our community who does vinyl.   It would cost about $22.
I saved $20.
How awesome is that?



wishing you luck on your next faux vinyl project


  1. My friend used a different method of material and water with cornstarch for the glue. Turned out super cute, with patterns. She even did huge wall flowers for her daughters room out of old clothes, and I believe trucks for her boys room out of an old sheet set or bumper pad?? I should link you to each others blogs! Hers also soaks right off, which is perfect since they live in a rental.

  2. Sounds cool! I'm tempted to give it a try. Now just to figure out what and where. Super cheap...FREE. Love it!



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