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A Guide to Graphics Installation

(August 2011) posted on Tue Aug 23, 2011

You can make it fast or make it right. Continue reading to find out how to optimize your graphics for appeal and application.


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By Paul Roba

What are the texture, shape, and surface chemistry of the substrate? Highly conformable cast films are a natural choice for fleet applications with uneven surfaces such as rivets and corrugations. These films conform easily over the rivets and will stay put for a long period of time. Using a less expensive calendered film can be risky, even for short term, as the film will likely lift around the rivets, leaving it susceptible to cracking or tearing. Cast films are an ideal choice for vehicles too, even if the vehicle will be rewrapped every year or two. Cast films will conform to the irregular shape of today’s vehicles and stay put for a paint-like finish.

You may encounter highly textured surfaces. These surfaces can be a challenge for film adhesion. A few media manufacturers have recently launched films specifically for these types of surfaces. The application can be time consuming, but the end results are excellent. Installation involves using heat and a rivet brush or roller (some even have a special tool) to push the film down into the valleys of the surface. High-performance cast films are typically used for this type of application.



What type of paint is used? What is the condition of the paint? Paint finish (gloss, luster, or matte) is an important factor in wall graphics. Most media manufacturers do not recommend applying wall graphics to matte paint because of adhesion problems. The performance of the graphic is only as good as the application surface. If the paint or surface is not in good condition, issues will develop later. This applies to any application surface.

Where will the graphic installation take place? Ideally, graphics would always be installed indoors in a dust-free and temperature-controlled climate at around 70°F. In the real world, though, this is not possible. Sometimes graphics must be installed outdoors in a less than desirable climate. Consult the media manufacturer’s guidelines for installing graphics to determine what the absolute minimum and maximum temperatures are so that you can try to fit into that window. If you are in a hot climate, try doing installations early in the morning before the heat rolls in. For example, a company in Las Vegas has a third shift that does all of the installations at night when the temperatures are bearable. If the temperature is borderline cold, you can try to warm the surface with a heat gun.


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