Vinyl Graphic Application | How to Ensure a Successful Install
by Rich Piatti
RJ’s Signs & Designs, LLC
De Pere / Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA
Vinyl Graphic Application | How to Ensure a Successful Install: Whether it’s a graphic install of your company name, logo or letters it takes just a few steps to ensure a proper vinyl graphic application. These steps are relevant for vinyl graphic applications to cars, vans, trucks, trailers, sign panels, or any smooth non-porous surfaces.
Step #1 CLEAN THE SURFACE The best way to ensure a good vinyl graphic application is to prep the surface as clean as possible. Just as with paint, good surface preparation is a must. Make sure it’s clean and free of grease and oil, as well as bugs and tar. Also note if the surface is oxidized, rusted or chipped. These issues will have to be dealt with for a proper vinyl graphics installation.
The second step in cleaning the surface is to remove any oils and moisture that still remain, including moisture hidden in seams and rivets as these will cause your vinyl graphics installation to fail over time. Do one final wipe down of the surface just before install with 90%+ IPA, also known as Isopropyl Alcohol.
Step #2 CONTROL THE ENVIRONMENT Another way to ensure a good vinyl graphic application is to install vinyl in temperatures that are neither too hot nor too cold. Experts say the optimum temperature for installing vinyl is between 65 and 72 degrees (F). Vinyl can be installed as low as 50 degrees (F), and up to 90 degrees (F). However at those temperatures it will be more challenging to achieve a proper vinyl graphic installation.
While too much humidity can soften the vinyl, it also causes the paper backing to fuzz, making the paper difficult to remove from the vinyl. A lack of humidity, however, can encourage the formation of air bubbles with non air-release type vinyls once they are applied to the surface .
One of the most effective ways to deal with heat and humidity is by using a wet vinyl application. A wet application not only cools the surface on which the vinyl is being installed, it also allows the installer the opportunity to reposition the vinyl before it’s down for good.
Experienced installers prefer to use a dry vinyl graphics installation as wet application tends to be more time consuming due to having to squeegee out the excess water from behind the vinyl graphics. To use a wet application mix a drop or two of dishwashing soap in a spray bottle of water.
CAUTION: Using too much soap will keep the vinyl from sticking to the surface. Use just enough soap to ‘break’ or soften the surface of the water. NOTE: DO NOT use Dawn dishwashing liquid, as Dawn will dissolve the adhesive from the vinyl. Also remember that the more water you spray on the surface, the more water you will have to squeegee from behind the vinyl graphics to get them to stick!
There are two circumstances vinyl experts strongly recommend avoiding the use of wet applications: 1.) when working around rivets and seams — it takes forever to get the water out of those areas. Moisture behind the vinyl will causes the vinyl to eventually lift. 2.) Avoid wet applications in the winter months, or should I say under ‘cooler’ temperatures — the cooler weather slows down the dissipation of water.
Vinyl graphics installation may seem overwhelming, but with practice and patience, it’s worth it. Vinyl is a clean and inexpensive means of advertising, and it offers the ability to make changes easily and inexpensively.