Thoroughly wipe down the area of the vehicle where graphics are to be
applied using soap and water. If the vehicle surface is not that dirty,
rubbing alcohol is an economical preparation solution to use. Glass cleaners
or other ammonia-based products are not recommended for this purpose.
If adhesive residue or other road grime remains on the vehicle's surface,
use a solvent specifically designed to remove that residue such as 3M
General Purpose Adhesive Remover. Once the surface is clean, installation
may begin. A clean surface will help to insure that graphics or stripes
will stay in place for the life of the vinyl product.
Positioning of Graphic
Register position by establishing a horizontal reference line using ½”
masking tape to align the graphic in the proper location. This reference
line should be used in conjunction with a straight edge of the backing
material that the graphic is produced on. Take care to assure that a straight
edge exists on the graphic backing prior to aligning with reference line.
Dry Graphic Application
If a wet application is not needed, a dry installation can be accomplished
by tacking one end of the graphic piece to the vehicle. Remove the backing
paper, pull the graphic taut, and stick it to the vehicle's surface. If
the product is positioned correctly, simply squeegee the product with
a sweeping motion using overlapping strokes. Dry applications are recommended
on cooler days.
Center Hinge Method
The "center hinge method" of graphics installation is a method
that guarantees proper placement of any large, hard to handle graphic
part. Simply follow the step-by-step directions and your graphic installations
will go smoother. This method can be done as a dry installation, but combining
the "wet application method" with the "center hinge method"
will also improve the quality of your installations.
Using masking tape, tape graphic into desired position. Apply a center
"hinge" of masking tape vertically through the center of the
graphic. Use at least a 1-inch wide swath of masking tape, applying multiple
lengths of overlapping tape if necessary. Extend length of “hinge”
2 or more inches above and below graphic.
Remove the positioned tape from the right side of the hinge. Peel backing
paper away from this portion of the graphic. Cut the backing paper near
Hold the right edge of the graphic up so that it does not come into contact
with the vehicle. Using a squeegee, rub the graphic into place. Start
at the center hinge and work towards the edge using overlapping strokes.
Remove the center hinge and apply the remaining half of graphic in the
Remove masking paper by pulling back slowly from right to left. Pull the
masking back at a sharp angle, keeping it almost parallel with the graphic.
Re-squeegee the entire graphic to insure good adhesion.
Wet Graphic Application
Many graphic installations require wet applications. These applications
will range from hot vehicle surfaces that need a barrier to overcome the
heat, or larger graphics that require more time to reposition and apply
while avoiding troublesome air bubbles, or multiple piece designs that
require the “layering” or integrating of graphic pieces. Prior
to beginning a wet application, do make sure the vehicle's surface temperature
is warm enough. A poor adhesive bond will result when a graphic is applied
using the wet application method on a cool surface (below 50 degrees).
Prepare a trigger head spray bottle full of water. Add 2 to 4 drops of
a light soap. We especially like baby shampoo. Do not use a detergent.
First, be sure the graphic is correctly positioned (see center hinge method).
Lift one half of he graphic and remove the backing paper.
Apply soap/water solution to installation surface. Soap/water solution
may also be applied to the back of the graphic, on the exposed adhesive,
Squeegee the graphic, using short overlapping strokes to push the soap/water
solution out from underneath the graphic. Most air bubbles will be pushed
out with the soap/water solution. Repeat this application procedure
on the other half of the graphic.
Remove masking, and trim where necessary. Wipe away any water residue
with a clean cloth.
Note on Removing Backing
A small bend at a corner or edge will cause the backing to separate from
the vinyl product. Pull the backing away in a continuous motion at a 180°
angle. Always remove the backing from the vinyl graphic rather than the
vinyl graphic from the backing.
The “center hinge method” or the “wet graphic application”
methods should be used when installing a photo mural. If a cut vinyl mural
is being installed, the “wet graphic application” is the only
method that can be used due to the need to align the various parts of
the mural using provided pentagonal reference marks.
Surface preparation is the same as graphic installs.
Stripes should be installed without water except for larger stripes (3”
or wider). Use personal discretion with 3” or wider stripes, if
a wet installation is desired, follow instructions for wet graphic installation
but DO NOT HINGE stripes.
Using a pencil or dry erase marker, make some guide lines to aim for at
the top of each stripe location before beginning each stripe install.
The full length of a stripe should be run out the length of the vehicle
and attached loosely at both ends with plenty of slack between the ends.
Right handed persons will find striping from left to right and southpaws
will have greater success striping right to left.
Start stripe by removing 3 or 4 inches of paper backing and adhering the
stripe with extra material on the end. Once satisfied that the stripe
is started straight, peel 2 to 3 feet of backing and adhere to coach lightly
- if straight then smooth down with squeegee, if not straight “pop”
stripe off of surface in one quick snap of the material, do not pull slowly
off surface or stripe will stretch. While installing stripes, long runs
should be the goal; this reduces the likelihood of crooked or wavy stripes.
Once a complete stripe is adhered to the surface, a clear masking must
be removed from the stripe. A small bend at a corner or edge will cause
the clear masking to separate from the vinyl product. Pull the clear masking
away in a continuous motion at a 180° angle. This masking must be
removed or it will deterioate rapidly, ruining the vinyl stripe beneath
it. Edges should be trimmed; it is recommended that stripes are not wrapped
around door or compartment edges but back cut from edges 1/8”.