Yes, vinyl striping and graphics can be removed. The most effective restripe projects include complete removal of the vinyl stripes, graphics, and adhesive. We do not recommend installing stripes over top of existing stripes. A vehicle that has vinyl striping and graphics does not have to be repainted. It is important to note that after only a very short time, the surface of the project vehicle will have faded to some degree and that upon removal of the original stripes you will find a difference in surface appearance. There is no method known to our shop that can remedy this disparity, so one must be prepared to, at the very least, cover what was originally covered by striping and graphics.

There are essentially 2 methods for removing vinyl striping and graphics: heat assisted or friction.
Heat assisted removal can be done using a hair dryer/heat gun or a clothing steamer. Often with heat the vinyl stripe or graphic will be removed but the adhesive will remain. The friction method utilizes a “buffer” or “sander-polisher” outfitted with a special “wheel” known as a stripe removal disc or an “eraser”. These tools can be electric or air driven. We use the Makita 9227C. There are a few different removal wheels/discs out there, but we prefer to use and sell the 3M Large Area Stripe Removal Disc Assembly. The advantage of the friction method is that it simultaneously removes the vinyl and the adhesive.

    Friction Removal Tools:
  • Makita 9227C

  • 3M Large Area Stripe Removal Disc Assembly

Heat Assisted Removal Tool:
Jiffy Steamer

Here are 2 close-up images of a friction method (“buffing”) in action. The stripe and its adhesive are removed by the frictional forces of the spinning wheel. The stripe and adhesive attach to the wheel and the wheel’s rotation flings the particles off the RV (and generally into your face). Care must be taken not to make contact with soft items on the RV such as moldings or rubber seals/gaskets. This method is the most effective and most efficient method of vinyl stripe/graphic removal.

These 2 images demonstrate the heat assisted method, using a steamer. This method generally works best on newer striping and graphics. As the vinyl decals age, the adhesive begins to harden and separate from the vinyl. Hardened adhesive will generally remain on the surface of the vehicle while the vinyl is pulled off with assistance from the steam (or heated air). There are many variables involved in heat assisted removal, including distance from the steamer head that removal occurs, air temperature, whether or not the area of removal is in the direct sun. Generally speaking, working in the direct sun will improve the effectiveness of the steamer (or other method). If stripes or graphics are cracked with age, there is simply no advantage to using a steamer as the vinyl will come off in small pieces.

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