Archive for September, 2010

Window Perfs

Monday, September 20th, 2010

With the popularity of vehicle wraps comes the issue of covering windows. The material used to cover a window so that the passenger’s can still see out is called perforated vinyl, or “perf”.

There are several ways to finish a perf film. Personally, I find that my regular laminate is more flexible on slightly curved surfaces than an “optically” clear material. The optically clear refers to the adhesive on the film. On standard laminate, there is a little “haze” that can be seen thru the decal. Having perfs on all of my shop vehicles, I do not mind getting used to the bit of haze.

Without a laminate, rain drops gather in the perforations making visibility difficult. I usually don’t laminate a driver’s side, side window, as the driver usually does not look out that glass, saving a bit of $$ on the print.

On a rear window, I tried both ways and DEFINITELY laminate.

Here are some rear and side window examples:



Experimenting with the use of the perf has brought some interesting results. All perfs must be trimmed at least 1/4″ away from all gaskets. Not sure why exactly, but I have a suspicion that the expansion and contraction of the perf, the glass and the heat absorbed by the gaskets all affect the perf and it peels up.

I have also experimented with cut-to-shape perf. It is not a full covering on the window, but cut to the shape of the logo and the edges sealed with a water-based varnish. I have used this method on a rear window with a wiper and after several months, the edges have not come up.

How to Remove Vinyl Decals- Part 2: “The prep-work stage ”

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Step # 1: Identify the decal materials and surfaces

If you are setting up a design for new lettering on your vehicle with Image Advantage, and you have existing decals to be removed, we have you bring the vehicle to our shop so we can attempt to identify the age, type and manufacturer of material. We will remove an inconspicuous piece and give you recommendations on problem areas you may encounter. We will also recommend chemical cleaners to remove adhesive residue.

Step #2: Assemble tools and cleaners

To a job correctly, you must have the right tools and this is true for any project. In the case of removing decals, there will be an investment in a few tools, which don’t have to be “top of the line”.

The most important, in my opinion, is a high-temperature heat gun. Hair dryers can work, but most of the time they do not get the face stock (colored part) of the vinyl hot enough to penetrate through to the adhesive. Hair dryers can burn out if used for a long period of time (several hours long) and will make you wife a little less than happy with you. In our shop, we use dual temp Milwaukee heat guns, but a lower end single temp gun will suffice.

A garbage can. A large garbage can. When you pull the vinyl off, resist the urge to just throw it on the floor. At this point, the adhesives have been heated almost to a liquid stage and like to stick to anything and a concrete floor or driveway are favorite places for them to hang out. Besides, then you have to pick them up/off the floor. Try not to handle things twice…it just makes it a longer process. Drag the can with you as you work around the vehicle.

A plastic squeegee for body work or decal install.  We set aside our old squeegees for adhesive removal. You do not want to use the same squeegee for adhesive removal and decal install. First, the adhesive will make the squeegee sticky. Second, if it gets near a heat source, it will warp the straight, flat edge.

Adhesive remover. In the “old days”, we used all sorts of (in my opinion) “evil” solvents; MEK (methyl, ethyl ketone), Prep-sol, turpentine, Xylol (Xylene) to remove paint and adhesive from surfaces. In our shop, ever since the formation of Image Advantage Signs, and before the “green” movement, we have used natural, plant based products to remove adhesives. Our favorite adhesive remover is Trapper by Northwoods/Superior Chemical. It is a citrus peel based de-greaser that removes adhesive. It is also a great cleaner for stains on trailers. We purchase Trapper in 5 gallon drums and use about a gallon per year. Why only a gallon per year? We utilize the heat gun to it’s potential to remove the adhesive with the face stock, without leaving much on the vehicle. Also the Trapper is super concentrated and you only need to use a fine mist from a spray bottle to activate the adhesive. It does however, need to be neutralized with a water rinse, in order to not damage any painted surfaces.

PPE: Personal protection equipment  Chemical resistant gloves, safety glasses/goggles just because…

“Wipers” or paper towels to wipe off adhesive etc.

Wash bucket with soap and a hose. To clean and neutralize adhesive removers.

“How?” See the upcoming Part 3 post….

Removing Decals..Part 1: “Do I Really Want to do this Myself?”

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Sometimes you have to remove decals from a vehicle or item you have and you wonder if there is a “correct” or “professional” method to remove them.

Well, unfortunately, decal removal is not an exact science, and even us “professionals” have to put a lot of time, energy and effort into decal removal.

Remember, when we install decals, they are semi-permanent; they are meant to stay on through all kinds of weather, washing and for many years. So something that should stay on so well is not going to be that easy to remove.

If you ask sign professionals, we may all give the same answer; “We can remove the decals for you at $X per hour. Without knowing what type exactly of material is on your vehicle/trailer, we have to charge it out at a Time and Material rate.”

Hmmmm, so it could cost $X or it could cost $Y or $Y+ or $X+Y+3.14 times pi…you see the dilemma as the client.

Often, sign shops will offer to give you some tips on how you can remove the decals yourself. This usually results in 1 of 3 possible outcomes:

Outcome #1: You follow the tips to a “T” and realize that even though it took MANY, MANY hours and some burned fingers, a lot of mess and a feeling that it would never be done, it was worth saving the extra cash. Now you can invest that toward some neat effects for your new lettering or upgrade to a wrap.

Outcome #2: The client (you) uses the tips the shop gives you, but you decide to “speed up” the process. After burned fingers, cut hands, some chipped paint and being only a quarter of the way done, you decide to let the pros handle it. Some things just aren’t worth the time and energy. However, it may take longer and have some additional cost to repair the damage done with the razor blade.

Outcome #3: After pondering the pros and cons of the removal process, you decide to just let the shop take care of it. They know what they are doing and you won’t have any burned fingers!

Let’s assume you have opted to give it a go and try your hand at decal removal.

What do you need to know and what materials do you need? (See Part 2)