Tips for Installing Decals in Cold Weather

1. Always be certain that the surface is clean.

2. Check the surface with clean white paper towels for dirt, residue or moisture.

3. Wipe all surfaces to dry.

4. If the unit has been outside overnight, it may be necessary to melt and dry frost that has accumulated on the surface. To do this, carefully use a heat gun or propane Torch to warm the surface, allowing the frost to melt and then dry. Or, alternatively, position the vehicle or machine surfaces in direct sunlight for sufficient time to cause melting and then drying. Move machine as needed to expose all required surfaces to direct sunlight.

5. If the vehicle has been outside overnight in snowy conditions be mindful of surfaces above the area where you will be installing decals. These surfaces may still hold snow that could melt and drip onto the areas where the installation will take place.

6. Test the application surfaces with strips of masking tape to confirm that the surface provides good adhesive qualities for the vinyl. If masking tape does not adhere well the surface may be damp, dirty, contaminated (needs further cleaning) or simply too cold.

7. If possible, wait until the air temperature and the surface temperature are at least fifty degrees fahrenheit
When installing vinyl on multiple sides of a machine use the sun as your aide. It can be helpful to reposition the machine multiple times so that the surface you will be installing to is exposed to direct sunlight for warmth.

8. Temperature tip. Sheet metal will warm quickly. Solid steel / iron surfaces such as counterweights will hold their temperature much longer. When air temperature and surface temperature differ the chance for moisture condensation on the surface is possible. Don't attempt to install decals when moisture condensation is present. See step 6 above.

9. Never use any form of application fluid when installing decals in cold weather. The fluid may be trapped beneath the surface and freeze after installation causing delamination of the decal.

10. Install the graphics in sections, using a heat gun to warm the surface and the vinyl. Vinyl adhesive will soften and grip the surface when warm. A gentle heat source will assist in creating a bond with the surface. Be extremely careful when removing the top layer of application tape after installing a decal in cold weather. If the vinyl is not completely adhered to the surface, it may pull off, tear off, or stretch out of shape while removing the transfer tape.  If the vinyl pulls up, reapply and provide moderate heat and squeegee pressure to re-adhere the decal.

11. Once a decal has been completely installed and all transfer tape has been removed, reheat the decal in sections to a temperature of approximately 90 or 100 degrees and carefully / firmly press the decal onto the surface, ensuring that the adhesive is set to the surface.

12. When installing film over rivets or crevices where the vinyl may need to be stretched into place. Remember that cold vinyl is brittle and can snap or tear more easily. Carefully heat the surface of the vinyl to a temperature that will allow you to conform it to the obstacle you're installing through or around. Go slowly and carefully while finding the best combination of heat, pressure and squeegee technique to achieve good results. Use a pin or tip of X-acto knife to release entrapped air and reheat and squeegee those areas.

A Few additional Tips
The adhesive used on most transfer tapes is of a different type than used on vinyl itself. The adhesive on the vinyl is superior for long term aggressive adhesion BUT during the initial installation and removal of transfer tape you may find that the adhesive on the vinyl adheres to the surface poorly while the transfer tape adheres to the vinyl more aggressively. This is a very common situation, and nothing is wrong with the adhesive on the vinyl. The adhesive used on the transfer tape adheres well at lower temperatures that that on the vinyl, even though it is not a permanent adhesive.
The adhesive on the transfer tape remains more active at lower temperatures than the adhesive on the back of the vinyl, meaning that it takes a higher temperature to properly set the adhesive on the vinyl then the adhesive on the transfer tape.
Additionally, the transfer tape was installed on to the vinyl in a warm environment in a production shop, you are now attempting to install the vinyl itself onto a cold surface of a unit sitting in cold air temperature. Use patience and care during installation and subsequent removal of transfer tape.
If you have plans to install graphics on numerous machines in cold weather, please consult with us when ordering your decals there. There are alternative adhesives available that work better in cold weather situations. We can help you.  Just select the right film and product for your working conditions.

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768 N. West End Blvd

Quakertown, PA 18951

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