How Should I Prepare My Surface For Installation?

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Below are some key variables to consider during installation.

You will want to remedy these common issues prior to installation.

  • Bumps on the surface that may affect the material from making contact with the surface. A Putty knife can be used to remove small bumps on surfaces such as drywall.
  • Surface issues such as rust, low-quality drywall, dirt, dust, hair, oil, etc. that may be affecting certain areas of the surface. 

Wall, window, floor, vehicle, etc. You will want to make sure that you are taking the surface type into consideration for your preparation techniques. Each has its own adhesion characteristics. Surface energy is something to be prepared for. For instance, an adhesive sticking to an ultra smooth window is going to have a lot less forgiveness than painted drywall when it comes to repositioning if there is an installation error.

Smooth, rough textures, paint type, coatings, etc. You will want to make sure that you are ordering the correct products that are compatible with the types of finishes you are installing to. For example, some removable adhesives may not adhere to surfaces with textures or flat paints.

One of the most important steps, and often overlooked, is to clean the surface from all dirt, oil, dust, or loose particles that the surface may present. Failure to clean properly may result in the adhesive not sticking properly long term, or dust particles trapped under the print. Both of which could lead to the failure of the installation. This varies by how much interaction there is with the print or the surface energy of the actual surface.
It is also recommended to make sure the backing liner is clean. Do not lay the print down on a dirty surface such as a floor while cleaning your surface. The liner will be touching the surface you are installing to. So if the liner is dirty, it will also get the surface you just cleaned dirty.

Spray and wipe the surface down with a lint-free cloth or towel. Use mild soapy water or water to clean drywall or other smooth surfaces. Do not use any harsh cleaning solutions. Use glass cleaner (Sprayway recommended) for glass, plexiglass, mirrors, and vehicles. Allow to fully dry for a few minutes after cleaning before installing.
After the surface has been cleaned wipe down one more time before installation, but this time with rubbing alcohol. Wipe the alcohol and allow it to evaporate for a minute before installation. This will be the final preparation before you are ready to install.

Indoor, outdoor, humidity, or extreme temperatures. The rule of thumb is to never install in extremely low or high temperatures. High temps (above 90 degrees) will make the material very soft and hard to handle without stretching, and low temps (below 45 degrees) will make the material very brittle and crack/tear easily. Situations, where there is a great amount of humidity or condensation, will also play a factor. Any amount of moisture will prevent adhesives from bonding with the surface area.

If you are working with a very large print it was most likely rolled up for shipping purposes and has a heavy curl (especially with thicker prints). Lay the print flat on a clean surface for a couple of hours prior to installation. Make sure the surface is clean otherwise debris may be on your backing liner that may affect your installation. If you are experienced with installing vinyl prints this may not be necessary.

You may notice some tunneling of the print from the release liner after laying flat for thicker prints such as floor decals. This is because it was rolled up and is now slipping off the liner as it is being laid flat. This is not an issue and once you begin the installation the material will lay flat on the surface.

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