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Should I Seal Vinyl? And With What Sealant?

I get a lot of questions about whether or not you should seal vinyl.  Personally, I never seal vinyl, but that doesn't mean there's never a reason to.

craft sealers, sealing vinyl, sealantsSilhouette School contributor Becky Dykes from MyPaper Craze is back this week to share details on the best way to seal vinyl...and when it may be necessary to!
 Here's Becky!

First and foremost, let's talk about a common myth in the vinyl world - that vinyl shouldn't be sealed because it needs to "breathe". Fortunately for us, this is just a myth. We have verified with several reliable sources that vinyl can be sealed with a variety of products, including the ones we will discuss today. 

Let's start with the most common and (in my opinion) versatile sealant...

Mod Podge

vinyl sealant, mod podge starter pack
As most of you know (or will soon find out), Mod Podge brand has a wide range of product variations, from glossy and matte to glitter and dishwasher safe. A few more benefits, besides being versatile, is that (1) it can be found in most craft and big box retailers, (2) it's relatively inexpensive (especially with a coupon!), (3) it's available in various quantities from starter packs (above) to large bottles, and (4) most variations are really easy to use. 

We have used Mod Podge (not 'Modge Podge' as I know lots of us call it) successfully for a lot of our projects, including sealing over vinyl, making custom photo canvases, and glittering pretty things. Mod Podge is also non-toxic and generally safe to use with older kids.

While it has held up really well on all of our "safe" projects (which is why Mod Podge is one of our go-to sealants), we are intrigued by the Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge. Can we use this to seal our vinyl and glitter mugs to use in the dishwasher?? The jury is still out, as Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge takes 28 days to cure. 28 days. Let that sink in. Who has time for that? By the time a month rolls around, I will have completely forgotten that this project even existed. Time lapse aside, there are various reviews from other blogs that lead me to believe it's not all it's cracked up to be. Some swear that with the right directions, your projects will be safe in the top shelf of the dishwasher, while others claim it's a complete disaster. In my personal opinion, if you are saving a treasured memento, you're better off hand washing it to be on the safe side.

Triple Thick

Triple Thick, vinyl sealant, craft sealant
With the recent craze on glitter mugs, using multiple coats of Triple Thick has definitely gained a strong presence among crafters. In my crafting arsenal, I place Triple Thick a few notches above Mod Podge in reliability. 

Triple thick is a nice, THICK glossy coat that dependably seals designs safely in place on almost any surface. Triple Thick is still among the non-toxic sealers and is relatively safe to use. One disadvantage is that you don't always want that thick layer, since you can technically feel it on your surface, so just keep that in mind. Also, because of the thickness, you'll have to make sure you paint an even layer of the entirety of your design. Triple Thick (while not advertised as such) is claimed to be dishwasher safe according to most, but still keep in mind that you'll probably be safer hand washing those important mementos.

Just to pause here for a natural question - because I know what you are all thinking. What are the pros/cons of using Mod Podge or Triple Thick? Let's use a glitter mug example, because they are so popular right now. 

Because Mod Podge is a thinner substance, you will be able to feel the grit of the glitter, even after several layers of Mod Podge. Conversely, with a few coats, Triple Thick will leave a smooth glossy layer on top of the glitter, leaving it smooth to the touch. However, Triple Thick is reported to dull the shine of certain materials, such as glitter, and even change the color of the glitter/paint underneath. 

So, depending on what project you are working on, these may or may not be important. On my personal projects, I use Mod Podge as the foundation layer with one thick layer of Triple Thick at the very end, kind of a combination of both worlds.


Vinyl sealant, craft sealant 
Polycrylic is another good, sort of all purpose sealer. We use Minwax brand, and I really love that it's available in a spray gloss. We commonly step up to polycrylic when it is an outside project, such as our Firepit sign.

Now, I will say that from time to time, the vinyl will curl in on itself if I had applied a heavy coat of the spray polycrylic, so many crafters choose not to use a spray sealant at all. I prefer to spray several thin layers allowing it to dry in between, If you have a quality product that needs a little TLC, skip the spray and go with a hand-brushed coat. One important item to notate here is if you do choose polycrylic, make sure you are using polycrylic and NOT polyurethane. While polyurethane is a clear protective coat, it will actually yellow over time, so just keep that in mind.  


Vinyl sealant, craft sealant, sealing vinyl
Epoxy is more or less bringing out the big guns. There's no playing around with epoxy and it has some pretty incredible benefits and drawbacks. You know when you go into a restaurant and all the tables have a hard, glossy finish that looks like a thick layer of crystal clear plastic? That's epoxy.

Lucky for us, with a little effort, we can have this beautiful effect on our crafts. It makes for a beautiful and highly reliable sealant that is 100% dishwasher safe and will resist almost anything. Seriously.

The draw backs are that it takes some serious effort to mix the epoxy, which is only pliable for a short period of time, and it cannot be reused once mixed. On top of that, you need to have some serious mixing stamina in your arms as you have to continually mix for about 15 minutes non-stop. BUT, the result is beautiful. And, epoxy is self leveling, which means that you don't have to worry about putting a lot of effort towards applying an even layer, it will level itself out. Cool, huh?  

Glossy Accents

vinyl sealant, craft sealant
Surprisingly, we have a little sealant tip for you today in the form of Glossy Accents. While this is traditionally a papercrafting tool, Glossy Accents is perfect for sealing those small vinyl (or other) designs.

Last July, we made a project using shoe clips with a cute vinyl design. But, of course, shoe clips put up with a lot of wear and tear, so the vinyl didn't last long. On the next go-round, we quickly applied a layer of Glossy Accents and we've been good to go ever since!

So when and why would you use Glossy Accents over another sealer? Well, it's great for small projects, like our shoe clips, and also small vinyl earrings, bracelets, keychains and other small pieces that are in danger of taking some wear and tear, but don't exactly rate a high amount of severity. I certainly don't plan on putting my shoes in the dishwasher, but a nice and quick layer over the top is easy to do. The fine tip opening also gives you some precision on where you apply the glossy accents, instead of bulky brush bristles or a clumsy foam brush tip.  

How to Choose a Sealant

Choosing a sealant for your project is going to depend on what kind of product you are working on, what your product is being used for, and the kind of wear and tear it is going to sustain.
  • Just adding vinyl to mugs and wish they would last a little longer? Mod Podge is probably your safe bet, just don't put them in the dishwasher. 
  • Making a fancy glitter mason jar for your BFF's wedding gift? Epoxy. 
  • Need to seal your outside sign against the summer humidity? Polycrylic. 

Your decision will also depend on the investment you want to make, with Epoxy being on the more expensive and less versatile side, do you really want to make a one-time purchase? You might want to choose Triple Thick or Mod Podge that can be used time and time again for various projects.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

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  1. Great timing - My second project was a design that I put on my diary. This notebook gets carted everywhere with me, pushed into bags, held with other items and generally takes a beating. In just one week the vinyl (glitter adhesive) has already started lifting. So just today I sealed it with a spray varnish from the hardware. It looks fantastic, you can't see that I've done it and the vinyl is well and truly sealed and stuck down. Only time will tell if it's durable enough for what I put my notebooks through!

    Re the dishwasher mod podge - it definitely does work and protect items in the dishwasher after it's been cured for the 28 days. I made a mug last december using the dishwasher safe mod podge and glitter and it gets washed nearly every day on the top rack. It's as good today as the day I made it.

    I'm doing an experiment now where I cured a mug in the oven for an hour on 120°C and then let it cool. It's got a glitter htv monogram on it that I forgot to reverse, and the mug is a cheapie that we rarely use. I cut the monogram in half and carefully painted one half with mod podge and left the other as is. Once the mod podge had dried (about four hours) I cured it in the oven, and tonight it starts going through every load in the dishwasher. It will be interesting to see if (a) the oven curing is as good as the 28 days, and (b) if it really does seal the htv adequately.

    1. Thank you for sharing this information. Do you have an update on the oven curing and dishwasher?

  2. What do you recommend sealing stainless steel water bottle and mugs with?

  3. What do you recommend sealing stainless steel water bottle and mugs with?

  4. Would the glossy accents be great for applying on acrylic keychains to help the vinyl stay down? the edges are lifting on one I have done for my self. Thanks!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Thank you! Have to try a few of these!

  7. Thank you! Have to try a few of these!

  8. What would you recoomend sealing stainless steal with? Also are these all food safe?


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