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How to Apply Metal Hotfix Studs or Nailheads With or Without Heat

Updated on October 7, 2012

Metal hotfix studs or nailheads come in all different sizes and shapes and makes a wardrobe pop. They can be used in place of or with glass hotfix rhinestones for that glamorous look. If you apply them yourself to the clothing you have on hand or bought from the secondhand store, you can achieve that mall or boutique look for a low price and high personalization points. (Also, they are more gentle on you because they have flat backs in place of prongs.)

What sets them apart from the studs that you just apply a separate glue with is that they each have an adhesive that can only be activated by means of heat. But that only applies to many porous surfaces (wood, fabric, and so on) because on hard ones they can easily fall off once set and handled frequently. Nevertheless, here are some ways to use them even if you are afraid of burning yourself.

You can get that look of such a dress for a low price by dolling what you have up with hotfix studs!
You can get that look of such a dress for a low price by dolling what you have up with hotfix studs! | Source

Types of Hotfix Studs/Nailheads

There are so many kinds of studs or nailheads as there are colors and shapes.

Faceted rhinestuds give clothing the illusion of rhinestones because they are actually aluminum pieces molded into their shapes. They generally cost less than the real thing and come in assorted colors. They are generally low lead notions, so they can be used on children's apparel. (Though there are a growing number of manufacturers of rhinestones, such as Swarovski, who offer low lead ones, rhinestuds and the like are ideal for those still worried about lead.)

But aluminum (as well as other metal that are heat-tolerant, like brass) can be made into other hotfix nailheads as well, such as hearts, moons, domes, and so on. Like rhinestones, they can be found on iron on transfer sheets in designs, such as hearts and sayings, either with them or on their own. Keep in mind that before application, all items must be prewashed to remove any sizing.

Applying Studs and Nailheads with Heat

Hotfix studs or nailheads can be applied to clothing with a household iron or a heat press machine, on cotton settings. Instructions vary on how to put them, and you have to plan your design before merely ironing them on. Transfers generally have less of that problem because they are premade and can be placed on your garment or other surface with less planning.

A general rule of thumb of heat-setting is to press the iron or heat press steady for 10-15 seconds (add an additional 5-10 seconds if your transfer has rhinestones) and let cool after pressing. Check the studs if they are secure. Some people suggest waiting for at least 24 hours before using to set the glue.

For more precision, you may want to apply them with a heat applicator tool with the flat tips. First, screw the tip on when the tool is cool, heat according to directions. Next, place the stud on a desired spot and use the hot tip to touch the top of the stud for 10-15 seconds. It's an ideal method for use with delicates, but some people suggest that you test the material before using.

Here, I used a combination of rhinestones and rhinestuds to dress up this hat I had worn when I was 6-7. The studs are on the bottom row on the brim.
Here, I used a combination of rhinestones and rhinestuds to dress up this hat I had worn when I was 6-7. The studs are on the bottom row on the brim.

Applying them Without

If you want to embellish something, but the material isn't porous, you can use hotfix studs and nailheads - just use a separate craft glue or other adhesive like silicone.

Simply plan your design, then add small dabs of glue wherever you want them on your surface. Wait for the glue to dry before using. I suggest waiting for 24 hours to let the glue set and the decorations adhere better. It's also ideal for those who are afraid of using irons to apply studs to clothing or children.

Here's How to Apply Them on a Cell Phone Case!

Hotfix studs or nailheads make even thrift or consignment store clothing, garage sale finds, and things you have lying around in your house look like something sold in a high-end store. The huge differences between them are the price and personalization because you made them yourself. So take a breather from the mall or boutique, buy some studs, find things in your closet or attic you already have (or bought from a secondhand store or garage sale) and get studding.


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    • talfonso profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      Of course hotfix studs/nailheads are budget-friendly. How old is your daughter? If she's under 12, then this is a good, safe craft because those studs have no lead. What a great way to introduce her to bling.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 

      6 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      This would be fun to share with my daughter and it looks like a budget friendly craft. Thank you for sharing the info and samples.


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