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How to Apply Vinyl to a Canvas

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If you own a Silhouette you probably have played around with cutting vinyl, maybe you’ve even been inspired by some of my Silhouette projects.  Adhesive vinyl can be cut and manipulated in so many ways and applied to just about any surface.  The key to flawless vinyl application is knowing what type to use and how to prepare your surface.  I’m sharing a simple piece of art today and showing you exactly how to apply vinyl to canvas.  

how to paint an ombre canvas with watercolor look and how to apply vinyl to a canvas

I made this pretty blue and white canvas for my bathroom, I needed a little pop of color in an otherwise white and wood room.  There are a couple of ways to get letters onto a canvas.  You can stencil and paint them like this sign below, or you can use vinyl which is easier and leaves less room for error. 

Will vinyl stick to canvas?

Does vinyl stick to canvas? It does, but there’s a simple technique you need to master before cutting your vinyl.

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Home is our happy place DIY framed canvas art

How to apply vinyl to canvas

The key is to paint the canvas first.  I started with a 9×12 white stretched canvas and used blue and white acrylic paint to create a watercolor look. 

How to paint an ombre canvas with these supplies
How to paint an ombre canvas

I started by brushing solid blue near the bottom of the canvas, then added white into my color as I moved up.  This left an ombre effect on the canvas and it looks like water, especially with the rough edges.  Then I let the paint dry completely, overnight ideally, before moving onto the next step.

I used matte finish white adhesive vinyl and cut the words using my Silhouette. You can use any Silhouette vinyl or Cricut vinyl to do this project, but be sure you are using permanent adhesive vinyl.  Once the words were cut I weeded out the excess vinyl and used Con-tact paper to transfer the vinyl to a dry canvas.  

vinyl on a painted ombre canvas
how to put vinyl on a painted canvas

 The dry paint creates a textured surface for the vinyl to stick to.  For the best results, put a book or something solid under the canvas and use the Silhouette scraper to really burnish the letters onto the canvas before removing the contact paper. This is the best technique for putting vinyl on canvas.

When you are applying vinyl to canvas you want to make sure you have a textured surface that the vinyl will stick too. Painting the canvas first is how you to get vinyl to stick to canvas.

Check out this Facebook Live for a step by step tutorial on cutting, transferring and applying vinyl.  

Once you have gone over the letters really well with the scraper tool, peel back the Con-tact paper slowly and your vinyl will be stuck down securely.  Go over the vinyl one more time with the scraper tool just to be sure everything is stuck in place.  No need to seal this canvas, the vinyl will stay put.

Vinyl on canvas painted sign - Hello Love

Applying vinyl to canvas is an easy way to create art for your home. These pieces make great custom gifts too.

This was a fun project to get the kids involved in.  I had a few solid 5×7 solid canvas boards left over from another project so I let my youngest paint with me, she felt so grown up using a real brush and paint.  

kids painted canvas

I used this technique to make a simple sign for my oldest daughter’s room as well.  She wants so badly to visit Paris (don’t we all) but for now we are working on some Parisian decor. 

paris canvas art with vinyl on painted canvas

Now you know how to put vinyl on canvas.  I hope you’ll give this a try and create something beautiful. Let me know what you are creating in the comments!

Thanks for visiting!

3 ways to stencil a wood sign. Full video with all the details. Plus how to build a wood sign

How to Build Stain and Paint a Wood Sign

Canvas paper art. Summer colorful wreath, oh happy day.

Colorful Canvas Floral Art

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Thursday 28th of January 2021

can i use adhesive foil on a painted canvas?


Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Yes you can, that would work too.


Monday 5th of October 2020

I use a Cricut, but the same idea. I made a wall decal, and had a lot of trouble with transferring the vinyl when I used the Cricut transfer was SO sticky!! Do you (or anyone reading this) know if that was the problem, or if it WOULD be a problem, with sticking too much to canvas, and maybe removing the paint...?

It didn’t pull the paint off of my wall, it was a large piece of vinyl (maybe the issue), and tbh I’m not the most patient with reading instructions, as I’m a lifelong autodidact with most things.

But still a concern...wondering if that transfer tape would work on canvas, or if I need to get contact paper for this to work. On a tight budget, and have had bad health flares since buying a ton of supplies...hoping to avoid the need to buy anything that’s unnnecessary, but want to make things of high quality! (Would also appreciate any links to videos with basics/info on this, as well...thanks!!)


Wednesday 21st of October 2020

Hi Kelly Cricut transfer tape can be sticky, but it works really well on most surfaces. I have used it to transfer vinyl to a canvas, this is a video from earlier this year. Hope this helps!

Lynn Spencer

Saturday 15th of February 2020

How great is it that your sweet daughter can create her own Parisian art!

Kathleen Pope

Thursday 13th of February 2020

Love this Sarah, someday, I hope to jump into new, creative projects like this, thanks for the easy to follow instructions!

Sherry Denise Cole

Thursday 13th of February 2020

I love creating my own art. this is perfect!

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