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Vinyl Decal to car - DIY or Professional Installation?


New Member
After looking through some of the welcome threads here, I'm just gonna be honest.........Im extremely nervous for even asking a question here because I feel like im gonna get my head bit off for asking probably an idiotic question. But I've tried to do my very best in researching as much as I could,.......with the exception of actually asking those who are in the trade in the first place so this is where my research has lead me to so far.

So, I'd like to apologize in advance if my questions are dumb. Also, I may not even be up and current on all the sign jargon.......but I will do my best to learn what anyone responds with.


I have a new car
(yes the paint has sat long enough). 2017 Kia Forte fresh off the lot as of this past Dec.

I want to put a design on it with Vinyl. Got a Silhouette Cameo 3.
I want to figure out if its worth going out of my way to put it on myself or should I bite the bullet to pay someone lots of money to do it instead?

Also, I was looking into different kinds of vinyl. Depending on the effort it takes to design and cut, I may or may not change the design whenever I get bored of it. If it takes too much effort, I wont and opt for something like some good Cast vinyl. If its easy, I'll use Calendered vinyl and just peel it off whenever. But if its TOO involving or really requires Professional Grade equipment, then I'll adjust my plan for professional installation.

But in the last few weeks, I found out about printed vinyl. I'd buy some and print what Id want. But I read that it needs to be Solvent based ink. I hope that there are print shops that could print this for me. Maybe Staples??

Longer Version:

My budget = $200 or less

As mentioned before, I got a new Kia Forte. Love it......but I love customization more. I can art well
(but with vibe I got from reading some posts, I guess I'll just say that I can draw good. I dont mean to make it seem like Im trying to start anything. Its just that.........from a new person's viewpoint..........its EXTREMELY intimidating to read and makes us very nervous. I understand that some people get on here and may ask the same question over and over and may think that they are hotshots.......but guys.......we dont know. Thats why we come here. and for those who DO understand that we dont know everything like me and want to learn.......its rather nerverattling. But I'll stay optimistic that this thread will be a wonderfully civil discussion and I'll learn alot from everyone that takes the time out to answer my questions.) and I'd love to be able to put what I want on it. Now, I do have a Cameo 3 at home.

Yes. I know its just a toy compared to the big cutters out there, But I have experience with Photoshop and im used to using the program to break down projects that are easy for me to execute. and what I planned to do was order the different colors i need, Cut out the shapes I want, piece them together via transfer paper and then put it on the car. At the time, I was looking into Oracal 651. did more reserarch, found that 651 would only be good for a short term plan, so I upgraded to possibly getting 751. 751 had more color options. That was my old plan.

I, not too long ago, found out about Printable vinyl. I thought that the paint would fade after awhile but recently I talked myself into to taking a chance on it. If it goes as Im thinking, this would cut my production time in almost 1/4th of what I was thinking.
I did some checking and reading blog posts on the Sign Warehouse and I found out that it CAN be quite durable. On SignWarehouse's site I stumbled across the link to a roll of Orajet 3751ra. its 13 x 30ft; defintetly something I wouldnt mind getting.

After doing even more searching around on youtube, this site, and SignWarehouse some more, I see that it does need to be laminated to give it the best chance to stand up against UV Radiation. Again. dont mind doing this either. I did, however, see that it has to be printed with solvent based ink. From the research I've seen, it just doesnt need to be your standard office inkjet printer fluid. cant be run in a latex printer either but, you get the point. I could see myself buying this roll, Printing it HOPEFULLY at some printing place that DOES use solvent based ink, cutting my design out MYSELF
(with an exacto knife. Design im going for right now would be too big to pass through the cameo. other ones I do later on...maybe.) and applying it myself. already bought a varying temp Heat gun just for this. And I already understand that if used incorrectly, the heat could ruin my clear gloss. I'll continue to do all my research on that as well and be sure Im using it right if I ever need to take off my vinyl.


In a nut shell....

I want some opinions on whether I should continue to try to do this myself.
Or is this something a novice should still not try?

I have the extra money to spend on doing this.........but I've talked to the big vehicle wrap shop in town. they said they'd want $300 just to something trivial like a racing stripe down a car. Now....I dont EVER want to talk ill of ANY professional creators being paid for their craft. that is ONE thing I am against. But, its one thing to be paid in full for your craft.......and another thing to just buy that same expensive vinyl.....watch a few videos on how to prep your car properly for the vinyl to be applied, be meticulous about doing a good job, then DOING said job, and only spend $65 at the most for vinyl, Claybar, and washing supplies.

But Im not naiive. I'm trying to get the most realistic approach to this. I like to say that my price range is rather flexible. I know it will take some money. Thats to be expected. Saw some Galaxy Black Vinyl online that is basically $5 per square foot. Wouldnt mind ordering that in small amounts for some added detail. I do have a warranty on my car.....but i know that warranty may not cover my paint job. It defintetly wont cover anything I do to my car. Oracal ALSO has a warranty...but its only covered if its installed by certified professionals. But i figured that the design was going to be effortless in a way that I dont mind taking the risk. Im willing to pay to have my clear gloss repaired if anything goes wrong.

If the pros here feel its better that I get professional installation. I'll look into doing that instead. Just know that I wasnt going to hold back on my color choices for my design. I know that if a mundane racing stripe would cost a whole $300, then my design would probably cost close to a grand.

I have a cousin that wanted me to put some vinyl on his car. I've opted to not do it so far because I cant gurantee the quality of my job.

I hope I was on the right path with my plans. : )



Active Member
Welcome. Just to touch on a few things. Don't go to Staples. Don't try to take your material to a shop to have printed or cut. Solvent prints are absolutely not the only print method to use for vehicle graphics. $300 for stripes is a decent price. Just assume that every vinyl has no warranty, because even "certified" shops have trouble getting warranty claims. Unless you go with some weird chinese material, it won't hurt your paint. You can damage your paint with the heat gun, but you'd practically have to be asleep on the job to do that. That said.

I sell a lot of graphics to people for them to install themselves. A good chunk of them come back needing stuff redone or end up having us finish the job. It was typically because the install price was "way too high, man!" I honestly can't figure out how people have a hard time getting lines straight or where they get giant wrinkles. It's really not a hard job. You can actually learn how to do it from Youtube. You won't be able to do it until you actually practice, but it can be taught. So, do it yourself. Provide the graphics and measurements to a local print shop, tell them it's for vehicle lettering and that you'll be installing yourself. If you don't like the price, try somewhere else. If not there, you can always cut the stuff yourself, in panels.


Active Member

here you go. $27 for 12" x 54"... works out to $5.35 per SQFT printed, and laminated, in a 10 year, easily removable material.

That said, theres a reason it costs $300 for stripes. Applying vinyl isn't that hard... doing it correctly and knowing how to is. If you want it to last a long time, you need to know how to prep the surface... how to lay the vinyl down, how to post heat around any curves... etc. If you want it to look good you need to know how to do measurements... depending on the design how to lay it down without it wrinkling / moving....

If you want to do it yourself, Vivvid's service is pretty good. But keep in mind the professionals have "non baby" cutters that can cut 54" printed material down to the MM in accuracy. So while $300 seems like a lot to you... When you factor in a 20k printer and 10K cutter and 10K laminator... you can see theres other costs involved than $20 in vinyl.

$300 at our shop gets you a template, a custom set of stripes that match the curve of your vehicle...Gets it cut, your vehicle cleaned, installed... It's not a 10 minute job, it all adds up and can take hours.

Design what you want, make it 53" max in width by whatever length. Call a sign shop, let them know you want it on a cast/removable such as 180, and ask how much they'd charge. A smaller shop that's slow might be willing to print it for cheap. If not... just go through Vivvid. I'd order your print twice though. sometimes it's a 1-2 week lead time from file to print to arrival... you don't want to mess up on a piece and have a half finished vehicle.


Premium Subscriber
Ya gotta start somewhere. Do it yourself and watch all the videos you can, til you're videoed out. Do it and practice on your own vehicle and see what results ya get. If ya like it and are satisfied with the project, tackle your cousins car, next. You'll be off and flying in no time.

Good luck............​


I learned back when I was 16 to not LOVE car customization until I could afford to do it right. By then I grew out of having my own cars "customized" outside of maybe window tint or wheels. If you can't or are not willing to spend what it takes to do it right, save you money and wait or don't do it.

Or you could always look on Flea Bay. Seems to always be "industry whores" on there taking peoples money. ;)