The Summertime Blues

Hot Summer Bubbles

The mercury has already hit 100°F in North Texas. Applying vinyl to an auto windshield in such conditions is a little different from applying it on a balmy spring day in New England.

The higher surface temperatures make the vinyl’s adhesive more aggressive and therefore, less repositionable. RapidTac, SureGlide or other application fluids can be helpful in the summer months as surface temperatures of your substrates climb. A light mist of application fluid can reduce the tack level just enough to allow you to adjust the alignment on the substrate.

Keep in mind that some vinyls should never be applied wet. Some are not compatible with standard application fluids, but can be used with special blends. For example, metallized polyester films, like Schein and EnduraLens holographics, can be used with RapidTac II, but not RapidTac or SureGlide.

Dry on the Bottom, Wet on the Top

In some cases you’ll need to use a spray bottle after a “dry application” of reflective vinyl is complete. Why use fluid after the vinyl is on? To help remove the application tape without awakening the bubble gremlins. Removal of the transfer tape stresses the connection between the newly applied vinyl and the substrate, contributing to bubbles.

Try this method:

  1. Transfer the graphic to the substrate dry. (Dry in this case means without using application fluid between the vinyl and substrate).
  2. After the graphic is mounted, wet the application tape, (preferably with SureGlide or RapidTac) before removing it from the vinyl graphic.
  3. Apply the fluid liberally, then squeegee the fluid into the tape to weaken the tape’s adhesive. The fluid permeates the tape’s paper face stock and begins to soften the tape’s water-based latex adhesive. This makes it easier to remove the tape without weakening the fresh bond between the vinyl and the substrate.

Paper, Not Plastic

This method doesn’t work as well with clear tapes because instead of a paper, clear tapes are manufactured with a plastic face stock. Fluid applied to the back of clear tape cannot reach and soften the adhesive.

Try this technique:

Remove the tape by peeling it back at a 180° angle (back against the surface) rather than pulling upward at a 90° angle. This further reduces stress on the connection between the vinyl’s adhesive and the substrate, reducing the likelihood of bubbles. The result is a bubble-free installation!

This technique is especially helpful when applying standard calendered vinyls to automotive glass and corrugated plastic sign blanks. Any small bubbles remaining can be popped with your trusty BRX-1 or cured in the sun. In a Texas summer, that won’t take long.