FAQ: Can Adhesive Vinyl be applied to plastic?

Can adhesive vinyl be applied to plastic? That’s an excellent question, and the answer is…maybe. It depends on the type of plastic, the chemical formula. Some plastics take readily to adhesive vinyl graphics application, others don’t, and still others will work, but only if installed properly.

Can I apply vinyl to plastics?

According to experts, applying adhesive vinyl graphics to plastic can be a challenge. Some are friendly, and some are not. Outgassing is a possibility much of the time. Before considering wrapping a plastic substrate, you need to know its chemical composition.

Polycarbonates are used on equipment for automotive, home, and the office. Polycarbonates contain water which when covered with vinyl graphics may outgas forming water bubbles between the substrate and vinyl. An experienced applicator can determine the best method of installation, dry or wet.

Polymethacrylate (PMMA) is the clear, shatterproof plastic used as a replacement for glass. Most adhesives will stick to a PMMA surface; however wet installation may be the best to avoid outgassing.

Polyethylene is used for plastic bags, containers, bottles, and tarps. Vinyl can be applied to this material using dry application and for some applications heat may be required.

Polystyrene is a hard plastic. For example, computer casings are made from polystyrene. This material can be wrapped, but outgassing varies from formula to formula and may cause separation.

Styrofoam is a polystyrene plastic, and although vinyl can be applied it’s difficult and isn’t recommended on some types of Styrofoam

Polyvinylchloride (PVC) is in most cases user-friendly for adhesive vinyl application; however the hardness of the plastic impacts the installation. Hard PVC will accept the vinyl, but may be difficult to remove while softer PVC may not offer the best adhesive surface.

The answer is Yes and No

Proper adhesion of vinyl graphics on plastics depends on several variables that include the type of plastic and how it was produced. Much of the success or failure will depend on the knowledge and experience of the applicator. Should it be installed wet, dry, or not at all? Other factors such as the condition and cleanliness of the surface as well as temperature and humidity during installation will impact the appearance and longevity of the graphic. If you’d like to learn more let us know.

By |2018-10-17T11:25:17+00:00October 14th, 2015|FAQs|

About the Author:

Randy Clark is the Director of Communications at TKO Graphix, where he regularly blogs for TKO's Brandwire. Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He is a beer geek and, on weekends, he fronts the rock band, Under The Radar. He is the proud father of one educator, one principal, has four amazing grandchildren, and a public speaker wife who puts up with him. His twitter handle is: @randyclarktko, Facebook: Randy Clarktko, Google+: Randy Clark on G+


  1. Erika January 9, 2017 at 10:13 am

    If the vinyl does not stick to the plastic I’m applying it to, is there some type of glue that I can use to apply this vinyl?

  2. Randy Clark February 27, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    We’d advise against it because it can cause problems to the finish especially upon removal.

  3. Chantal June 14, 2017 at 2:47 am

    What type of material is recomended for branding of plastic chemical bottles

  4. Randy Clark June 14, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I’m not certain. It’s not one of our offerings.

  5. Diane March 11, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Im trying to do frisbies and didnt know it would stick. I dont know what to do. Help

  6. Randy Clark March 12, 2018 at 10:23 am

    We’re not sure of your question, are you having trouble removing the adhesive vinyl? If so use a citrus based solvent, or steam, either way it will be difficult. As far as using adhesive vinyl on a Frisbee we wouldn’t recommend it. We’d suggest having them printed with your copy. If you do use vinyl use a high tech material such as 3M’s 3690 but don’t attempt to wrap it — place a decal on it.

Leave A Comment