Vinyl Trouble


New member
Hey all!
So I'm pretty new to painting....painted my first bicycle frame 2 weeks ago and it came out pretty nice! Now that I've had some time in the booth, I'm loaded with questions and this forum rules!
One thing I couldn't really find an exact answer to was about vinyl stenciling...
To create a layered look, I created a stencil of an octopus using a very nice vinyl cutter. I sprayed a base coat of black, and then topped it with pearlescent. I then applied the vinyl and peeled the the tentacles were pretty thin and the stencil small (bicycles have a much smaller area for applying things and the areas are always round! maybe thats part of the issue haha) when I pulled off the backing, a lot of the little tentacles didn't want to stick. I had also created a larger tentacle to wrap around the chainstay, which also didn't want to stick around the edges. Since it was wrapped, I tried cutting it on the underpart to get it to lay nice and flat and tight. Once I got all of them to stick well enough, I started painting the red top coat. In the middle of painting though, the stencil started to raise up and I lost a few arms, plus an edge of the larger stencil on the chainstay.

So my questions are these:
Is there a trick to getting the vinyl to adhere better? Is the backing paper I'm using too adhesive and not allowing the vinyl to release? Could part of the issue have been the pearlescent?
Even though it's not perfect, it still came out nice! But, ya know, I want it to be perfect hahaha


New member

And here's a picture! Lil' octo-bike
You can see that sort of shaded area...? That's a lost arm



Actually, it does look pretty good.
Working with that small of stencil is pretty hard to do.

Possibly you got your paint too heavy and it bridged too much on the edges.
Or you didn't use good stencil material, or the surface was not sanded good enough.


New member

thanks Taz!
that's one thing that I was wondering about too...I actually didn't sand between the pearlescent and applying the stencil because I was afraid it would dull it too much. I thought the paint may have been heavy too, but it was curling up before I started the red and just got worse once I started spraying...

And thanks for the compliment! she's my first solo go-around:moon:



New member
Beyond what TAZ said, I'd add in a couple of questions.

How hot was it where and when you were working?
If the frame was hot it could soften up the adhesive on the masking material to the point where it, the masking material, was released from it's hold and tried to flatten itself out.

How was the surface of the paint when you applied the masking material? Was it dusty, glassy smooth, or...?
If the surface had a lot of loose particles on it it may have kept the masking material from sealing down tightly.

How tightly did you seal down the masking material around the bike frame?
You always need to work from the center out, and make sure that all the material is laying down flat and smooth, edges and all, if there are ripples or bubbles, don't pop them, but work them out.
The vinyl or masking material will shrink and pull away, making a pinhole or small incision into a much bigger opening as it retracts.
Working from the center out means that you are pushing any air bubbles out rather than trapping them, and while trapping them may not sound like a big deal, those bubbles and ripples mean that you are shortchanging other areas of your design from getting the masking material they were supposed to get.
Hope that made sense

When you go to apply a vinyl mask or a transfer tape mask that's difficult or large, you may find that cutting/slitting the backing paper into several sections then peeling one section of it off at a time and applying and smoothing that section before you go onto the next will help you get a smoother surface and one that will cause less frustration and lost time for you. It keeps you from having to try to juggle lots of loose sections or parts and from having them try to fold together, adhesive surface to adhesive surface. (kiss that stencil goodbye!)


New member
Thank you so much!

Thanks for all the advice! It was pretty friggin hot in there which I'm thinking had a lot to do with it....The next set I did came out great so it must have just been the humidity and heat in the booth.
I'll definitely try the splicing technique next time I'm doing a crazy stencil like the octopus:freak:

Here's a picture of the next set not givin' no lip and coming out awesome!
Hornet wings with a side to side fadeIMG_0710.jpg


New member
Jenny, remember that hot air rises and cool air sinks/goes down.
So putting a vent/opening at ground level with a second opening high up with a fan pointing out will pull cool air into the room as it blows the hot air out. Putting filters at both vents/openings will help keep the air coming in or going out clean from dust and overspray.


New member
@Jenny what kind of vinyl cutter did you use? Are you happy with it?

Sorry for being off topic.

I'm in the market for a vinyl cutter and I sure could use some help. Where did you get started? Because there are a number to choose from. At the moment I don't want to shell out a lot of money so I was looking at desktop vinyl cutters. I've got tired of all the hype reviews that were on the net. And actually managed to find one that seems legit. On this website I've found a review that was critical. It actually showed the flaws of each machines. What do you think which one would be better.

Any help is appreciated


I've been using the US Cutter plotter. I've had it for about 10 years now. Kind of dated, but still works great. I don't use it that much but haven't had any issues with it. I think I paid about $600 back then.