A Lasting Image: Proper Installation Techniques Ensure Best Performance

High-impact graphics not only grab attention, they enhance your company’s visual image – inside and out. Ensuring their optimal performance is essential!

“The key to maximizing the impact of your vinyl graphics starts with proper installation techniques,” explains Tobbias Day, Process Control Director for Muir Omni Graphics.


Prepping the Surface

The first step to a successful installation is prepping the surface.

“Before applying any graphic, the surface should be clean and free of dirt, oils, greases, weld spatter or other contaminants to ensure proper adhesion,” he said.

For lightly soiled surfaces, a 50:50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and water or Rapid Tac® application fluid are considered appropriate cleaning agents. Soapy water may also be used, but keep in mind it may leave soap residue behind, which can reduce adhesion.

Surfaces where heavy oils or greases are present should be cleaned with a degreasing agent such as heptanes, mineral spirits, or naphtha. After cleaning the soiled surface with a degreasing agent, follow up with either IPA and water or Rapid Tac® application fluid to remove the degreasing agent. Wipe the surface with a clean, lint-free paper towel to remove all contaminants and allow the surface to dry.

To ensure a smooth finish, be sure to eliminate imperfections like bumps or chipping on painted steel surfaces before applying graphics. And to prevent bubbling due to “out-gassing,” films applied to painted surfaces should be applied only after the paint has fully dried.

Temperature is another important consideration; the ideal range for applying graphics is 70°F to 100°F (21°C to 38°C).

“Initial application to surfaces at temperatures below 50°F (10°C) is not recommended for most pressure-sensitive adhesives because the adhesive becomes too firm to adhere readily,” Tobbias adds. But “once properly applied, low temperature holding is generally satisfactory.”

A final note about preparation: be sure to apply graphics in a dust-free environment whenever possible.


Installing Your Vinyl Graphics on Larger Panels and Pre-Masked/Pre-Spaced Graphics (not applicable to smaller safety and informational labels)

Before you begin the installation process, make sure you have the proper tools on hand. These include Rapid Tac®, a plastic application squeegee and a dry cloth.

  1. Begin by placing the graphic face down on a flat surface and squeegee the backing firmly with special attention to the vinyl graphic areas; this assures the graphic will adhere to the transfer tape as backing is removed. Slowly remove the backing at a 180-degree angle to assure the vinyl graphic remains on the transfer tape.
  2. Next, spray both the prepared surface and the decal’s adhesive side with decal application fluid; the surface should be thoroughly covered with fluid.
  3. Apply the graphic with transfer tape to the sprayed surface; place and squeegee the graphic into position. Then press the squeegee firmly to push application fluid to edges of the film, working from the center outward. The film will begin to bond. (If necessary, the graphic film can be removed and repositioned.) If placement is correct, the decal will thoroughly bond to the surface within three to five minutes.
  4. Next, slowly remove the transfer tape from the front of the decal at a 45-degree angle; if the decal is pulling away from the surface, continue to squeegee the excess fluid or wait two to three minutes more for bonding.
  5. Finally, wipe the decal and surrounding area with a dry cloth to remove excess fluid and any streaks. The decal will be fully cured within 48 hours.


Storing Your Graphics

Proper storage is also essential to ensuring the life of your graphic films and plates. Avoid storing films and plates in direct sunlight, moist or dirty conditions, or at temperatures above 38°C (100.4°F).

“Materials are guaranteed to retain their performance and properties for 24 months of storage if properly stored in a plastic bag at room temperature conditions of 72°F (22°C) and 50% relative humidity,” Tobbias said.

Films stored longer than 24 months should be visually inspected for deterioration or hardening of the product components before use. If they show signs of deterioration, they should be discarded.

“A good installation up front means your vinyl graphics will last and perform the way they’re supposed to,” he added.

For more information, call us at (309) 673-7034 or send an email to ask_muir@muirgraphics.com.


Back to News