The Chemistry of Vinyl Decals


  1. Vinyl decals have become the latest trend for high schoolers. Accompanied by the latest water bottle craze the Hydro Flask. They tell a story just like a tattoo does but less expensive. This cheap alternative to permanent ink has made vinyl decals accessibly successful.Composition of ...
    1. Vinyl film
      1. R-CH₂=CH
        1. Carbon
        2. Hydrogen
        3. R is a variable group that depends on the manufacture of the vinyl film
        4. Top and bottom layer
    2. Silicone middle layer
      1. [R₂SiO]n
        1. Silicone
        2. Oxygen
        3. n is a variable on how many chains of
    3. Nitrile
      1. CN¯
      2. Water resistant coating
      3. Outermost top layer

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Vinyl Decals are a product of man made manufacturing. Vinyl decal stickers are made of.... you guessed it... vinyl polymers (specifically R-CH₂=CH). Polymers are in simple terms a string of the same molecule bonded together by covalent bonds. Vinyl polymers are made of chains of vinyl acetate (C₄H₆O₂). These polymers are bonded until you have a layer of vinyl film. Then, a layer of silicone rubber ([R₂SiO]n) is sandwiched in between another layer of vinyl acetate film. The top layer of vinyl will get a Nitrile (CN¯) coating to keep the adhesive qualities of the vinyl only on the back, and add water resistant quality to the decal.

Now, onto how the decals stick to car windows, water bottles, and computers. Vinyl decal backings either have adhesives or rubber backings that are sticky, but how does the backing stick to the surface of an object? First, we have to understand that no surface is a flat surface. Every surface has grooves that can not be seen by the naked eye. These grooves provide footholds for the adhesives and rubber polymers to grip the surface of an object. Think of the backing of a vinyl decal like the legs of a spider. Spider’s legs have tiny hairs that sit in the textured grooves of the walls in your home and allow it to climb up your wall. Vinyl decals stick to surfaces just like spiders do.

Background Research:

Vinyl decals became a popular trend of the 1960s as freedom of speech and protest swept the nation in the midst of the Korean conflict and Civil rights movement. Freedom of expression was key. What better way to express political opinion than to slap a peace sign or favored presidential candidate on the back of your VW wagon. Today vinyl decals are in many ways still used as they were in the 60s. High school students room the halls with water bottles plaster with vinyl decals of their favorite sports team, vacation spot, and ice cream shop. Granted these themes are not as politically driven as most of their parents used them back in the day. The main goal is freedom of expression.



Breaks down the chemical makeup of adhesives pn stickers.


The chemical makeup of vinyl.


What is a polymer? Why do they interact with alcohols? What makes a polymer “sticky”?


In depth look at the chemicals that make vinyl and the adhesive that makes vinyl stickers stick.




How to cut/ shape your own decal. What vinyl decals are. How we use in decals in the world

About the Author

Kayla Murray is a Junior at Billings Senior High. She enjoys playing volleyball, watching University of Alabama football, and wandering with her basset hound. Chemistry is her favorite subject. Kayla hopes to attend the University of Montana to study Pharmacology.