Vinyl application tips

Preparation is the key to easy application of cut or printed vinyl graphics. Good surface preparation also ensures a long and trouble-free service life thereafter. We have compiled a range of recommendations and tips that may help you with graphic installation.

– Any surface to which vinyl is to be applied must be clean and free of surface treatments – such as waxing – to ensure a good bond. A specialist surface cleaner should be used in all cases even if the application is short term. Newly painted surfaces should be left to cure before graphics are applied. Avoid greasy, rough or porous surfaces.

– Surfaces prone to out-gassing may produce bubbles under the vinyl and can eventually lead to total failure of the adhesive bond. Such surfaces include polycarbonates, some acrylics, as well as surfaces treated with silicone, wax, sealants or varnish.

– Particular care must be taken when applying vinyl to other vinyl surfaces such as flexible truck sides, banners and stretched sign-faces. These substrates contain plasticisers, which can migrate to the applied face-film and break down the adhesive. A characteristic “stringing” of the adhesive is often the first sign that plasticiser migration is occurring. Note: nothing can be done to reverse or arrest this condition.

– To avoid plasticiser migration, it is essential to select the correct vinyl for application to heavily plasticised substrates. Spandex offers a range of suitable materials for these applications – ask your customer service representative for details.

– Seek specific advice from Spandex where difficult surfaces and extreme environmental conditions are encountered to ensure that the correct material is used and the appropriate preparation is undertaken. We are able to provide detailed specification sheets for most products. If in doubt, ask Spandex for a sample for test purposes.

Types of vinyl application
There are two recognised methods for applying vinyl: wet and dry application. The method chosen will, to some extent, be determined by the size and complexity of the graphic image being applied.

Dry application: Take the application tape carrying the image and lightly position it onto the substrate. Firmly squeegee the image down, starting at the centre and working carefully outwards, ensuring constant pressure is applied across the entire design. Slowly peel the application tape back on itself, leaving the image in position. Re-squeegee the image to ensure good contact, taking care not to scratch either the image or the substrate. All vinyls presenting bubble free or air egress adhesive system such as ImagePerfect’s PerfectApply (PA) are recommended for dry application method only.

Wet application: Big surface areas are often applied using the wet method, as this method helps eliminate air bubbles on larger areas of vinyl. The wet method also allows re-positioning of the image several times if required – a considerable advantage when applying multi-colour logos or other applications requiring precise alignment. Vinyls presenting bubble free or air egress adhesive systems are also recommended for big surface areas (dry application method only).

Use a specialist application fluid such as ImagePerfect™ Magic Apply to ensure you do not re-contaminate the substrate with fats. We do not recommend soapy water as washing up liquid contains fats that interfere with the adhesive bond.

Lightly dab the application fluid onto the background with a sponge. Alternatively, dampen the adhesive side of the vinyl with application fluid using a fine spray once the image has been transferred to the application tape.

Float the application tape carrying the weeded image onto the fluid, gently dabbing the image down to achieve the correct positioning. Firmly squeegee the image from the centre outwards to force any remaining moisture/air from under the image.

After allowing the application tape to dry – approximately 30-60 minutes depending on temperature/humidity – slowly peel the tape back on itself, leaving the image in position. Re-squeegee the image to ensure good contact taking care to avoid scratching.
For more information on vinyl application techniques and the different tools that can help you with graphic installation, please contact your local Spandex office.