How to Apply Dry Transfer-Decals

A dry transfer wall label in a museum. Learn how to apply dry transfer decals.

Transfers are super easy to apply—all you need to do is rub them down with a supplied burnisher.

Surface preparation

Try to make sure your wall surface is clean and free of dust for fingerprints. You might want to cut off the tagline (at the bottom of the transfer) and try that as a test. If the tagline isn’t on the wall surface for long, it should be able to be tacked off with painter’s tape. Please do testing in a spot that will not be an issue.

You should probably have some kind of guides on the wall where you want to place the transfer/text/graphics so you can make sure it is straight—maybe painter’s tape with a line on it for placement? This will be up to you. For application, we recommend cutting apart the captions. Try not to bend the clear slick because the transfers might start to release. You can use a straight-edge razor blade or Exacto blade to cut apart. Try not to put pressure on the transfer either because you don’t want it to start to come off and stick to the backing sheet (rare but if you do put a lot of pressure on the text they will want to stick).

Transfer placement

Place the individual caption on the wall. Be careful to place accurately because once the transfer touches it will start to stick to the wall surface. Hold in place with painter’s tape. The most important things are for the transfer not to move in the application (because you can get a wrinkle in the ink). Use the supplied burnisher. We suggest rubbing the image left to right making sure you rub the entire text/caption surface. Don’t worry about burnishing over the clear area. The adhesive is only on the image area. This is also an important aspect – make sure you burnish the entire surface of the text/caption so it releases. Remove the clear slick carefully and slowly to make sure you have been successful rubbing everything and all you will have left is the copy adhered to the wall surface. If there is a spot where the text/caption doesn’t look securely applied, you can use the backing sheet to place over the text/caption and use the burnisher again to rub-down the area that may be lifting. The longer the text/captions are on the wall the more secure they will be. Just remember they are lacquer ink and can get scratched if someone intentionally tries to do that. We have had no issues in museums and galleries with a lot of people attending and visiting for this to happen.

It is truly easy, and since transfers are fresh they release beautifully. We are sure you will be pleased with the final results.

– Luann LaRussa


Image Transfers are custom dry rub-on transfer specialists. We make only one thing: custom rub down transfers for graphic designers, artists, and model-makers. A dry transfer (or rubdown) is an image printed on a translucent sheet. The image has a coating of adhesive on its back. The image is transferred from the translucent sheet onto another surface by applying light pressure in a rubbing motion. The dry transfer can be applied to any surface that is free of dust, grease or oil. Dry transfers are referred to as DRY because they are applied dry, without the use of water or solvents. A dry transfer is not a slip-off label or a water decal, instead, the transferred image appears as if it was printed directly onto the item. Our dry transfers are opaque because we back the colors with white, so our rubdowns can be applied to a surface of any color without changing the color of the rub-on transfer. We consider dry transfers a semi-permanent application. A top coat of clear lacquer can make them more permanent. Our production artists can match all Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors including Metallic. Standard transfers are semi-gloss but we also offer matte and uncoated finishes. We deliver within as little as 24 hours. -- Specialties: Custom Rub Down Dry Transfers, Art Gallery Signage & Museum Labels, Custom Transfers for Product Prototypes, Comps & Mock-ups, Dry Transfers for Scale Models. Decals for Glass and reversed transfer decals for inside glass cases.

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