Skip to Content

Applying Vinyl to a Tumbler So That’s It’s Always Straight!

Applying vinyl to a tumbler is a super easy and fun way to personalize your cup.  Find out how easy it is to apply straight and make sure to watch the video tutorial! 

Yetis and Ozark Tumblers are all the rage these days!  There are so many options out there, that sometimes it’s hard to know what to choose.

And when it comes to decorating tumblers and making them truly unique, the possibilities are endless!

I personally like the Ozark Tumblers or Built from Amazon or Walmart.  They are a third of the price and work just as well.  They keep ice and water cold for up to 30 hours.

They are amazing, it is the only cup I use anymore, for hot and cold drinks!  I have about five different decorated stainless steel cups since I never leave home without one.

So along with being amazing tumblers, they are very fun to decorate.  You can do almost anything and jazz them up to suit your personality.

So today I thought I’d share how to go about applying vinyl to a tumbler.  I even have a video tutorial and printable directions at the bottom of the post if that’s more helpful.

yeti ozark with vinyl decal

Best Vinyl for Tumblers

So before we get into how to add a decal to a tumbler, let’s talk about the best vinyl to make the decal with.

When it comes to adhesive vinyl, there are two types:  removable also called indoor vinyl, and permanent also called outdoor vinyl.  What they are called depends on the brand you are using.

For tumblers, you definitely want to use a permanent or outdoor vinyl.  These vinyls are intended to get wet and have a longer-lasting adhesive on them.

My personal favorites are Cricut and Oracal brands.  Cricut calls the vinyl you want to use Premium Permanent vinyl.  Oracal names their vinyls with numbers, so Oracal 651 is their outdoor vinyl.

Even though these types of vinyl are called permanent they can still peel off or be removed when high heat is applied to them.  That is why you should never put a mug or anything with vinyl on it in the dishwasher or in the microwave.

Best Types of Vinyl Decals for Cups

Now that you know what type of vinyl to use on a mug, you might be wondering if a certain type of decal will last longer.  In my experience, the answer is yes.

Thicker letters and images are ideal and will last longer.  If I ever have an issue of vinyl coming up, it’s because the letter was super skinny or had an intricate loop at the end.  The more surface area that the adhesive is on, the better it will adhere to the stainless steel or mug.

You can try to bold the font you are using to create a thicker font.

cricut 101 course

Applying Vinyl to a Tumbler Tutorial

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Amazon and/or I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links.

This process will work for either Ozark Stainless Steel mugs or Yetis.

You can purchase Ozark tumblers by clicking here.  Or for 20 oz click here and for 30 oz tumblers click here!

Or you can always browse my Amazon storefront with my complete DIY Tumbler supply list.

The first thing you need is a vinyl decal.  I cut mine out with my favorite tool, my Cricut Explore Air™.  Weed the vinyl and apply transfer paper over it.  (For more detailed information on this part see my post here.) 

To learn more about a Cricut, make sure to check out my Ultimate Resource of Cricut Ideas.

vinyl application to a tumbler

Prepping a Mug for the Decal

Make sure your stainless steel tumbler or mug is washed and dried.  Next, clean the mug with rubbing alcohol.  This helps get any remaining grease or residue off that will prevent the vinyl from adhering properly.

I just use a cotton pad or paper towel and wipe it around the whole thing to get all oils off so vinyl can seal better.

Getting Vinyl Straight on a Tumbler

I have a full video tutorial on the side of the post and also a tumbler web story here, so make sure to watch it with the volume on to see how to apply a decal in action!

Apply a piece of transfer tape to your weeded out vinyl decal.

Then with the paper backing still on position the decal on the tumbler where you want it.

I find it easiest to use the Hinge method.  Place a strip of blue painter’s tape down the center to secure it in place.

applying vinyl to a tumbler with hinge method

Peel off one half of the transfer paper and cut off the backing while holding the sticky transfer paper.

applying vinyl to yeti so it's straight
vinyl on ozark

Pull the transfer paper so it’s straight and lay it gently down on the mug.  Rub on the decal so it adheres.  Then remove the blue tape.

applying vinyl to a yeti

Now that it is secure in its position, peel off the other side of the paper backing.  Pull a little bit so it’s taught, and gently lay it down while smoothing it out with your fingers.

vinyl on tumblers
putting vinyl on tumblers

After rubbing down the vinyl you can slowly start peeling off the transfer tape.

applying vinyl to tumblers

There you have it.  Easy peasy!

Tips for Ensuring the Vinyl Sticks Well!

Let the vinyl cure on the mug for 48-72 hours to make sure it sticks really well.  So do not get it wet for 72 hours!

I will also run an embossing heat gun back and forth hovering over the vinyl and then press down really hard with my finger to make sure it adheres really well.  This heats the vinyl glue a little.

Just be careful, not to touch it when it’s too hot! If you have a heat protector glove that you get with a curling iron, use that to help protect your fingers.

Again, anything with vinyl should be hand washed and washed gently.  No heavy scrubbing and no dishwashers!  Stainless steel mugs should not be put in the dishwasher anyway, it messes with the keeping hot and cold mechanism.

Sealing Vinyl on a Tumbler

I get a lot of questions on how to seal vinyl on a tumbler.  You might also get different answers on who you ask.

I only seal my vinyl decals if I am making a glitter tumbler or painting it to seal the paint.  I never have to apply any kind of seal on my vinyl tumblers or vinyl mugs and they’ve lasted for years.

If you use the permanent vinyl and let it cure, you should not need a sealant.  However, if you really want to add a sealant, the one that lasts the longest and is FDA approved is epoxy.

Tumbler Decal Ideas

Here are a few of the other ones I have made. Easy and fun!  These make great gifts, especially for those hard to buy for people! For free SVG files you can use for tumblers, make sure to check out our heart svg files and cross svg bundle.


A Cricut machine can make so many personalized presents.  I have an entire roundup of just Cricut personalized gift ideas if you want to check it out.

decorating yeti ozark tumblers

The same goes for applying vinyl to a mug. I love to use Dollar Tree mugs and add permanent vinyl for every season!

Once you get used to applying vinyl to cups, you can start to eye ball it as I demonstrate below.

DIY Fall Mugs

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Amazon and/or I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links (purple text).

fall mugs pumpkin spice

How to Apply Vinyl to Mugs

Prep your ceramic mugs by cleaning them off with rubbing alcohol.  This removes any grease and helps the adhesion.

Find a file that you’d like to put on a Fall mug.  I found both of these in Cricut Access.  Cut the vinyl out with permanent/outdoor vinyl and weed off the extra vinyl.

fall mugs diy

Place a piece of transfer tape over the vinyl and scrape it down well.

fall mugs diy
fall mugs diy with vinyl

Now instead of using the hinge method, let’s use the eye ball method!  Peel the paper off the back of the vinyl (the vinyl should be sticking to the transfer tape).

pumpkin spice mug

Center it on the mug and press down the image in the center first.  Then press it down towards the sides.  Press it all down well with your fingers or a scraper.

applying vinyl to a mug
diy mug with vinyl

Peel off the transfer tape.

diy mugs

If you have a second color, repeat the same steps.  Add transfer tape to it.  Scrape it down and then center it where it needs to go. 

transfer paper tutorial
transfer paper tutorial diy mug
pumpkin spice diy mugs

 Make sure the vinyl cures for 72 hours before it gets wet. 

pumpkin spice mug

There you have it!  I made these cute fall mugs to put in our neighborhood Boo basket.  I made two different ones.

diy fall mugs

Make sure the Vinyl can not be put in a dishwasher or it can come off.  You can put my printable “handwash with care” in it if you’d like.

Taking It Beyond Vinyl!

If you’d like to learn how to seal your tumblers with epoxy, check out my tutorial here!

3 different epoxy glitter tumblers

There are even more ways to decorate stainless steel mugs!  If you’d like to check out my ultimate guide on personalizing stainless steel tumblers and what I like to use, click here!

Here are the printable instructions.

Yield: 1 tumbler

Applying Vinyl to a Tumbler So That's It's Always Straight!

yeti ozark

Learn how to apply vinyl to a tumbler or mug so that it's always straight!

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Difficulty Beginner
Estimated Cost $10



  1. Design and cut out vinyl decal with a cutting machine (or buy a decal!)
  2. Weed off the extra vinyl.
  3. Clean your tumbler with rubbing alcohol and let dry.
  4. Apply transfer tape to your decal and scrape it down (do not remove paper backing yet!)
  5. Position decal on tumbler and use a ruler if necessary to make sure it's straight.
  6. Apply a strip of painter's tape down the middle of the decal.
  7. Fold over one side of the decal and peel it off the backing. Cut the backing off.
  8. Place down the decal and firmly press it on the tumbler.
  9. Remove painter's tape.
  10. Flip over the other side of the decal and remove the paper backing.
  11. Flip it back over and lay it down on tumbler.
  12. Scrape down well and remove the transfer tape!
  13. Let the vinyl cure for 72 hours before it gets wet.
  14. Enjoy your nice new tumbler! Hand wash only!


Make sure to read step by step instructions with photos in post and watch the video!

Permanent vinyl is waterproof but it can not be washed in the dishwasher or heated too long in the microwave.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Thanks for stopping by!!  What would you decorate a mug with??

Have a creative day!

leap of faith crafting
applying vinyl to a tumbler

Sharing is caring!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Sandy Stephens says:

    Love your decals! Question: How do I use a decal with a double handle on my 30oz Yeti?

  2. I guess I don’t know what a double handle on a yeti is?? Do you have a pic?

  3. Lisa Dannels says:

    Do you cleary coat your cups to prevent the vinyl from ever peeling?

  4. Hi Lisa, Thanks so much for checking out my post!! No, I don’t clear coat the vinyl. I hear conflicting ideas on that. Most people say the vinyl needs room to breathe so it’s not good to coat it. Usually you have to scrape pretty hard to get the vinyl off unless it’s a really thin piece. Sometimes I’ll run a hot gun or hair dryer over it as the heat makes the vinyl stick a bit better. As long as you hand wash, I don’t usually have a problem!

  5. Christy says:

    What kind of vinyl do you use for your cups?

  6. Hi Christy! I use Oracal 651. Let it sit for 48-72 hours before it gets out so it cures. It’s an outdoor permanent vinyl.

  7. Niki says:

    Thank you for this!

  8. Donna says:

    I just received a mug like this with my name, it has very thin designs and looks as if it’s starting to peel already…,,anything I can do to seal the design?

  9. Hi! Yes, thin designs sometimes don’t stick real well. Depending on the design, you can cut the very thin part off or I use a heat gun (one for embossing) or you can use a hair dryer and put heat on the vinyl and then push it down real hard. The heat will reactivate the adhesive and stick it back down if it hasn’t gotten to wet yet. I usually pass a heat gun over all my mugs and let sit for 72 hours before I use them. Hope that helps!

  10. Casey Adams says:

    This tutorial helped me so much. Thanks for sharing!!

  11. Terri says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I love the cross! Where did you get the file?

  12. lisa says:

    what does a 30oz tumbler normally would sell for with it ombre and decale?

  13. HI Lisa, I don’t sell them but from what I’ve seen, $25-30. Hope that helps!

  14. Hi Terri, your welcome! I bought it from a Facebook group but I don’t believe she has a shop anymore. I’ve seen a few kind of close at Thanks for checking out my tutorial!

  15. Erin says:

    Hmmm I have a Silhouette cutting machine and I mostly use it for making stencils. I am always worried about the longevity of a vinyl decal on something that’s going to be washed on a regular basis. I worry about dish cloths catching corners etc. Do you ever have an issue with that?

  16. Hi Erin, yes that was always my concern too. Luckily I have not had too many issues. There are different kinds of vinyl and I always use Oracal 651 for permanent use. The only times I’m had a few ends curl up are if they are really thin like on some of the long curly-ques of a letter. I have learned to try and use a thick font. Make sure to let it cure for 72 hours and I also use a heat gun over it and press it down again to adhere it better. When I have had to remove them I really have to scrape it off hard so it is stuck pretty good!

  17. Kimberly West says:

    Hmmmm…. I clearly don’t have my blade settings correct or something b/c I have a hard time getting my vinyl to the transfer paper when it is NOT on a cup 🙁 I have an Expressions 2… using Oracle 631. I have my blade on 5 and pressure and speed both on medium. THANKS!!!

  18. Kimberly West says:

    Oracle 651** sorry for the typo

  19. Bibb Ingram says:

    I never have had trouble with mine. Don’t wash in dish washer and I also let mine sit without using for a while to make sure it sticks. My husband’s initials started peeling after 2years of rough use and being in the sun. I just peeled them off. (I think he was glad)?

  20. Hi Kimberly, oh no! Finding correct settings is sometimes trial and error…ugh…. The explore has preset blade settings (it’s amazing!!) so I’m trying to remember what I did with my expression. You don’t want the blade to cut through the back piece of paper. I’d try the blade depth on 2 or 3 and see if that helps. Good luck!!

  21. Norma says:

    Where do I buy Oracle 651, and is it permanent, can I wash the Tumbers?

  22. Hi Norma, Oracal 651 is an outdoor/waterproof/permanent vinyl. That being said you can always remove it if you scrape it hard enough. Oracal 631 is branded as removable vinyl and is better used on walls or places you’ll want to remove it at some point. You can definitely wash 651 by hand, but not machine wash. The high heat will melt the vinyl. You can buy oracal 651 from Expressions Vinyl, Amazon, and Ebay. Hope that helps!! Thanks!

  23. crazywoman2 says:

    I have the Expression (not 2). What is Oracle 651? Thank You

  24. crazywoman2 says:

    Sorry, I found my answer below, after i posted my question.

  25. Shumaila Merchant says:

    What transfer paper are you using to transfer the vinyl. I am having problems transferring mine to the cup

  26. Hi Shumaila, Thanks for checking out my post! I have tried quite a few transfer paper and the ones I like the best are Angel Crafts vinyl transfer paper tape or Expressions Vinyl tape. Some people use contact paper but that’s hit or miss for me even though it’s much cheaper. Hope that helps! Good luck!

  27. Krystle says:

    I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but my Oracle 651 keeps peeling off of my tumbler. I’m cleaning it first and letting it sit. Please help

  28. Oh no! Is your design really thin? The only time I had a part come up was when it was a long thin loop. Or is it exposed to heat or sitting in water??

  29. Tera says:

    Did you curve your text? I cannot figure out how to get text on without it curving up or down.

  30. Hi Tera, no I’ve never curved my text. Smaller text is easier to get straight. Sometimes it’s necessary to cut little slits in the transfer tape to get it to lay straight on curved surfaces. Good luck!

  31. Lynda Woerner says:

    I wash my 30 oz steel mug (bought at Costco for $10) and decorated with Oracal 651 in the top rack of my dishwasher all the time with no problem. And it has a skinny font on it too. I figured I can always redo the decal if I have to, so why not give it a shot. I have been using it for months now with no issues.

  32. Wow! Good to know, I scared to try!

  33. Crystal says:

    Thank you for this!!! Also, you’re so right about the Ozark trails! My boyfriend did a side-by-side comparison with Yeti, RTIC, and Ozark in an ice water challenge and the Ozark held ice just as long as the yeti!

  34. Hi Crystal! Your welcome and thank you for stopping by! Glad to know the Ozark holds up in a challenge against both the Yeti and RTIC! I love mine!!

  35. Shelia says:

    What type of vinyl do you use on the tumblers. I have tried outdoors vinyl but it doesnt give me a smooth feel.

  36. Hi Shelia, I used Oracal 651. There is both glossy and matte. I hope that helps!

  37. Johanna says:

    Brilliant! So glad I found your blog! You have a new subscriber!

  38. Thank you so much! Glad it was helpful to you!! Vinyl is so fun to apply to almost anything!

  39. Joy says:

    Made some quite large glass mugs with vinyl decals on them for our wedding. They’d be great for beer mugs frosty from the freezer. Do you thing putting them in the freezer will harm the vinyl?

  40. Hi Joy! That is a good question! I actually don’t know that answer. It’s usually heat that is problem but I’m not sure if it would freeze …hmmm…let me know if you find out!!

  41. Debbie Owens says:

    This helps so much. I did my fist vinyl/foil project. The last layer want stay down in spots. Will the heat gun do the trick? Wasn’t sure bc of foul under it. Thanks

  42. Valerie Hofmann says:

    Im trying to see how you did this did you not reverse the cross before cutting?

  43. Hi Valerie, no, no need to reverse the cut. You apply the transfer tape right on top and that literally picks the cut image up as it looks. Then apply it to the cup. If the hinge method is confusing you can just take the transfer tape off the backing before you apply it and center it best you can before you place it down. Then just push the whole thing down and peel off the transfer tape. Hope that makes sense!

  44. Valerie says:

    I enjoyed your blog. I am creating a gift for the staff at my daughters school this year and want to gift the staff purple RTIC cups with a black paw print and their name on the bottom. What is the best vinyl to use for this?

  45. Definitely Oracal 651 (it’s an indoor/outdoor permanent vinyl). Even though it is permanent it can still come off with heat. I always make a little note and stick inside that says “Handmade with love, hand wash with care” or something like that. I also run an embossing heat gun or hair dryer over the vinyl after I attach it and press down so it really sticks (don’t press when it’s too hot though!). Great gift idea!! They will love them! Thanks for stopping by!

  46. Dianne says:

    Your site is awesome I loved your tutorials. Thank you so much for Sharing. I just got a cameo for Xmas from my girls & trying to learn about it.

  47. Kimberley says:

    Hi all!
    I just recently placed an order with a friend who does custom designs with vinyl, and got her to put scripture on my stainless steel water bottle, so there is a lot of delicate lettering.

    I’ve had the vinyl on for about 2 months now and it’s starting to peel ????

    Has anyone encountered this issue, and does anyone have any solutions?

    Also if it needs to be redone what type of vinyl should we use?

    p.s. I only hand wash my water bottle.


  48. Small intricate lettering is tough to keep on sometimes. You can apply heat to it with a hair dryer or embossing heat gun and push it back down. I always go over the small vinyl with a heat gun and push down right after I put it on. Make sure you’re using oracal 651. Cricut vinyl isn’t always that great. Hope that helps!

  49. Hi Dianne!! Thanks so much!! I’m sure you will have so much fun once you figure out how much it can do!! Have fun!

  50. Cathy says:

    Have you trie the htv on the tumblers? If so what temperature would you set the heat press?

  51. Hi Cathy! Yes, I have tried HTV on tumblers, but not with a heat press. I use my iron for it. I don’t have a mug attachment for my heat press.

  52. All Rise says:

    Hi Cathy: New to this. What kind of heat press should I purchase. I went to Michaels to buy an Air Explorer and was talked into buying a Silhouette Cameo 4. Now, all I do is stare at it in the box. Every class I’ve attempted to sign up with don’t do Silhouettes. I’m devastated & confused. Can you give me some pointers? Better yet, where can I reasonably purchase N. O. Saints permanent vinyl decals to put on tumblers. I don’t have internet on my laptop only on my phone. Thank you for any guidance.

  53. Oh no!! There are a lot Silhouette bloggers out there. A girl and a glue gun and Sugar Bee Crafts both use Silhouettes and hopefully, you can find guidance there. I’ve never used one, so I’m not of any help. I’m sure you can find some vinyl decals on Etsy though!

  54. ERICA MCCARTY says:

    I received a stainless tumbler as a gift over 3 yrs ago. I use it every single day. I have coffe in it in the morning and wash it and have coke with ice at lunch. So it is washed at least twice a day and always by hand, I don’t even own a dishwasher so there has never been a time it was washed in there accidently.
    I lost a few little curly q ends on my first and last letters 2 yrs in but I just took a razor knife and cut them and they didn’t continue to get worse. Now 3 yrs in it’s time to put a new decal on. This was by far the most usable gift ever! So much so I bought decals from someone on etsy for my entire family and got my tumblers in today! Since I have no idea what I am doing I needed good instructions. You definitely provided them! Thank you so much! I will be working on them this week!

  55. You are so welcome! Yes, the permanent vinyl can last a long time but sometimes those tiny intricate decals can peel up. I hope your new tumblers came out amazing!

  56. ETHEL NYGAARD says:

    I made two mugs as gifts for Christmas this year. I used oracal 651 on both. The lettering on the first is so smooth, you cannot feel it but on the second mug, you can feel every letter. I seems to be sticking fine but it worries me that it might not hold up. The only difference in them is I used different colors and did not use the mat for the one that I can feel. Is this normal?

  57. Hmmm, that is weird! If they are both 651 I am not sure why you would feel it differently. Make take a hairdryer or embossing gun to the second mug to heat it up and then press it down again to see if you can get it smoother. Just don’t touch it when it’s too hot!

  58. Katie says:

    Hi! I’m looking in between getting the maker or the air! I’m really only getting one to make my own decals for tumblers but was wondering what you recommend between the 2! Just looking for some pointers 🙂

  59. Hi Katie, how fun, congrats! If you are only looking for mostly decals I would say the Explore Air or even the Cricut Joy. I have a post on the difference between the Maker and Explore and a post about the New Cricut Joy

  60. Kim says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    I own both machines. As a cutting machine the Cricut is slightly better. But the software of the Silhouette wins hands down. Check ou Silhouette School. Hundreds of videos and tutorials.
  61. Alicia Canning says:

    Do you have a template I can purchase that will help me with wrapping a 30 oz Ozark tumbler.? I want to wrap the mid and lower part of my tumbler with vinyl and I am having a very hard time.

  62. No, I’m sorry I don’t! Maybe on Etsy??

  63. Suzanne says:

    Where can I get the file for the cross monogram?
    Your blog is very helpful. Thank You.

  64. Thank you Suzanne! Actually, I bought that file years ago, so sorry I can’t give you a great answer. You can probably find something similar on Etsy!

  65. Joann says:

    Thanks for the clear instructions. Appreciate it!

  66. Renee says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    What is an embossing heat gun and how do u use on a tumbler-great instructions-thank u. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Skip to Instructions