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How to install vinyl graphics and stickers.

There are two methods of installing vinyl graphics. With either application method, you will be concerned with two things. One is getting the graphic on straight, and the other is getting it to lay flat with no bubbles under it. We will discuss dry installation and wet installation using application fluid or a soap and water solution. Your application will determine which method is appropriate for a successful installation. This is intended as a simple self-help guide, and obviously is not intended as an all-encompassing instruction manual. If you need help with your application, please contact us, and we'll do our best to get you going.

Dry Application

Clean the surface with an appropriate cleaner and allow it to dry. Cut off approximately 1/2 inch of the backing paper from one side or top or bottom of design, whichever is most appropriate. For example, with long horizontal stickers, tear off backing paper from either end. For tall vertical stickers, tear off either a top or bottom section. This is done so that you can press the application tape onto the surface once you get the sticker where you want it and get it straight.  with one edge stuck, your sticker will stay straight and maintain position and you can turn it over and peel off the rest of the backer.  Start from the end you previously stuck, hold the other end up, and squeegee the sticker down from one end to the other. This will prevent air from being trapped under the sticker and give you a professional looking installation. Carefully peel off the application tape starting with one corner and pull it back flat on top of itself. Make certain all of the vinyl releases from the application tape and remains on the surface you stuck it to. If it starts to lift some vinyl, back up and stick it back down with the squeegee, then resume pulling off the application tape. If there are any bubbles left after you remove the application tape, they can be removed by piercing the vinyl with a needle and working the air out of the hole. You may see some very small bubbles that will probably weep out in a few days. It's best to give it some time on these small bubbles and see if they disappear.

Wet Application

For wet applications, you can either use an application fluid, or make your own solution from cheap dish soap and water. Use just enough soap in the water so that it starts to feel slippery. Make sure you use a plain dish soap such as Joy. Newer detergents with additives such as fragrances and skin conditioners can leave an oily residue that will cause your vinyl not to stick very well. You'll need a spray bottle for your application fluid and a squeegee. Clean the surface thoroughly and remove any dirt, oil or residue. Spray the surface with application fluid until the entire area for the sticker is wet. Now peel the backer off the sticker and spray it also until it's nice and wet. Put the sticker onto your surface being careful not to press it down. Grab your sticker by the corners of the application tape and slide it around until it is centered and straight. Step back and take a look if necessary. Once you are satisfied with your positioning, you can begin to squeegee the application fluid from under the design. Start at the top for vertical designs or one end for horizontal designs. Work your way down or across the design as appropriate and squeegee all the fluid from under the design. Use slow firm strokes and make sure you get all the bubbles out. Give it a few minutes to dry and test a corner to see if you can remove the application tape without lifting the sticker. If so, spray the application tape until it is wet. This will help lessen the hold on the vinyl and allow the application tape to come off a little easier without lifting the design. Start at one corner and peel the application tape back on itself, keeping it flat on the surface until you have removed the entire sheet. Check for any vinyl that has lifted and squeegee it back down as necessary. Allow to dry thoroughly before driving down the road if you are doing a vehicle application. Remove any bubbles by piercing the vinyl with a needle and work the fluid or air out of the hole. Small static bubbles may disappear in a few days.

Installation Tips and Tricks

Sometimes you may run into situations where vinyl won't stretch around an irregular object, such as a body line on a car, or a convex or concave object. In these situations, you may end up with a wrinkle, or an area that just won't lay flat. You can resolve this by using a heat gun on low heat, or a hair dryer on high.) The vinyl will become very pliable with a little heat and you can stretch it to fit. Be careful not to stretch it too far, as you will deform the vinyl. A little more heat will cause the vinyl to shrink and pull out wrinkles and small bubbles. Be careful not to overdo it though, as the vinyl will become hard and brittle after it cools if you use too much heat.

Removing old Vinyl

Old vinyl is best removed in a warm environment. If it's cold, the vinyl will be less pliable and more brittle, and it will tend to break often. If possible, you'll want to do this inside at room temperature. If this is not possible, you can use a hair dryer or heat gun to warm the vinyl so that it comes off easier. A hair dryer is generally ideal, as a heat gun tends to overheat the vinyl and make it stretch too much. Once you remove the vinyl, you may be left with some adhesive. The best way to remove this is denatured alcohol. Alternatively you can use isopropyl alcohol which you probably have in your medicine cabinet. You'll have to keep your rag saturated as you wipe the glue, and it will melt away a little at a time. For stubborn vinyl removal, you should be able to use a plastic razor blade without damaging paint or other surfaces.

If you have other questions, or you need help with your application, don't hesitate to contact us using the links at the top of the page.

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