Mastering adhesive vinyl applications

Just as there are different paints for different surfaces, the same is true of adhesive vinyl.

Just as there are different paints for different surfaces, the same is true of adhesive vinyl.

The liner is a key piece of vinyl construction, serving as the delivery layer for the finished product and sometimes adding the valuable functionality of air egress for dry-applied, bubble-free graphics.

Practice makes perfect

Truth be told, it is a long way from the lab to the jobsite, and repeated, regular, hands-on experience is the critical piece in the process. Anyone can pick up a guitar and learn a few chords, but it takes years of dedication and practice to play like Eric Clapton. I may know a lot about cross-linkers and peel tests, but I have not seen half of what other pros have in actual installs. The parts I know are the constants which are true with any good vinyl installation. However, there can be a lot more to the process, including a site audit and prep work.

A friend of mine who is a veteran installer has a prep checklist which starts at the initial site visit, taking notes and photos to attempt to head off any complications before they come up. For wall murals, he will take note of the fixtures to be removed or avoided. He will also inquire on the paint used, whether the wall has a separate primer layer, and how long it has been on the wall to make sure it is fully cured. For floor graphics, it is important to understand the surfaces they will be installed on, how long they are going to be down, and what kind of traffic they will see.

Often, the initial site audit will lead to an extra indemnification line in the job contract. My installer friend once told me about a project which involved a trailer wrap over old paint with partial graphics. The customer wanted to be able to remove the wrap cleanly after two years. However, they would not approve repainting the surface prior to install, so my friend needed to add a clause to the contract stating clean removal would not be guaranteed. It is important to point out any potential problems ahead of time, but if the customer is unable or unwilling to set the job up for success, installers need to protect their brand and their business.

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