Static cling decals are a popular material used for graphic displays. Static cling is made from a thin vinyl film that clings to various surfaces. Typically, they are displayed on glass windows and doors. However, they can also be displayed on smooth plastic or metal. The most popular use is the clear sticker in your vehicle reminding you to get an oil change. Window clings are free of adhesive and can easily be removed, repositioned and reused. The lack of adhesive means that static clings are not weather resistant and therefore not recommended for outdoor use.
Contrary to what the name might suggest, static cling vinyl does not actually cling to the application surface with static electricity. You’re probably thinking, “What? No static electricity in static cling decals? It even has static in the name.” In some ways, static charges are like magnetic charges. Two objects with the same charge will repel; they push away from each other. If the vinyl decal had a static charge, then it should not stick to itself. In fact, it should push away from itself. It’s a similar concept to plastic wrap. If plastic wrap were statically charged, it would repel itself, but plastic wrap sticks to itself. Not convinced yet? Metal is a conductor of electricity, so there is no way that something would stick to it with static cling. Grab a metal cookie sheet and try to stick a static cling decal to it. It sticks!
So if it’s not static electricity, then what is it? It clings to smooth surfaces, such as glass because of cohesive forces between the smooth surfaces. The soft, highly polished pliable vinyl is so smooth that it acts like a flat suction cup. This also enables static cling vinyl to adhere to smooth surfaces in a wide range of humidity levels. This same effect can be seen when stacking plates of glass on top of each other. The ultra-smooth surfaces wants to bond to each other.
To apply a static cling decal, it is recommended to clean the surface thoroughly and allow it to dry. Use a tape measure to find the center point at which to place your static cling. For larger window clings, tape the top to the window. Lift the bottom of the static cling away from the window and remove the protective backing starting at the top and pulling downward. Spray the surface of the window liberally with water. Lay the exposed portion of the decal down onto the window. Continue peeling away the rest of the backing as you squeegee from top to bottom. Once the decal is fully applied, squeegee from the center toward the outer edges to remove air bubbles. You can cover the squeegee with a paper towel or soft cloth to prevent it from scratching the material. Remove the tape and squeegee the top of the window cling. Finish by wiping down the edges of the cling with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. For cleaning, a mild spray of soapy water with a gentle wipe down is all that’s needed. These decals are easy to remove and reposition if you are not happy with the installation. Gently remove and reposition your window cling as desired, making sure the material never touches itself.