Some might have thought car wrapping is just an easy job: Isn’t it JUST to apply the giant sticker to your car? What is that big a deal? Or some are being kind of paranoia when they do it: gingerly doing everything but still - problems come up.
These have proved us one thing: Either not paying attention at all or paying too much attention to, the wrong things will not help with your wrap installation. You need some solid tips and tricks that can save you.
So here we have several secrets to a successful installation for you to refer:
Choose the right material
You have surely heard the saying: “You get what you pay”. It works exactly the same for the car wrap industry. In order to get your perfect finish, you first need to have the right material. There is a large selection to choose from in the market, yet not necessarily every type of vinyl is suitable for your vehicle.
As different wraps are for different applications, making a wrong decision might lead you to several results: poor adhesion to the car surface, bubbling, wrinkles and even overstretching of the film. So before you make up your mind, consider whether you are doing partial car wrap or a complete one and what kind of surface you are applying the film to. Of course you can refer to the instruction that the manufacture provides, which will tell you what kind of surface the film will fit in.
Manufacturers offer many kinds of vinyl from different levels of quality and performance nowadays. Some are pretty high, others are lower. And these will determine the appearance and life span of your wrap in later days. So again, make sure you take your pick very carefully and accordingly.
This might be a part that some people would overlook, which they think they can GUESS how much vinyl they exactly need for a wrap installation. But guessing can be very risking sometimes. If you underestimate the amount of material, you could end up waiting forever for the additional film and leaving your car unfinished. The worse part is even when you eventually get the additional part, it might not even be able to match the same dye-lot of your original film’s.
So the best way is to measure all the areas you want to wrap before you do the installation, and always add extra for the edges so that you will have enough to do something when it needs. For example, when you want to go underneath the body panel sometimes (e.g. Wrapping your hood) to make it look flawless and at the same time avoid future lifting.
This is not the funniest part, but definitely one of the most important steps for wrap installation. It is best to wash the car a day before and dry it up. Installers must go over every inch of the car, to make sure all the wax, oil and dirt have been removed, as vinyl adhesive is not fond of these things.
This goes the same for rust. If there is any rust spots on the car, make sure they are fixed before you do the wrapping, as glue does not stick well to it either. Plus, if you ignored it and do the installation on it anyway, the shape and unevenness will appear on the film later. The worse part is, the rust will continue growing underneath if you did not deal with it.
The two points above will lead to a failure of adhesion, as well as lifting of the film within a short time. So the cleaning must be done very carefully. Pay specific attention to difficult areas which usually contain most dirt and oils. For instance, the inside of wheel wells, bumpers, hoods, rocker panels and its around edges. And remember to do a final wipe-down with isopropyl alcohol just before the installation.
Choose the right location of installation
I am sure most installers know the correct choice is to do the installation indoors, where there is controllable temperature and a clean room with dust reducing facilities. And that is a good start! A better thing is to follow the instruction provided by the manufacturer, and set the room to the right temperature: not too high, otherwise will cause overstretching of the film; and not too low either, or the vinyl would shrink, and eventually fail when being exposed to high temperatures.
Now it finally comes to the actual installation, but don’t get too excited just yet, because this process is just as tough as those steps you have been through. It is good to have a plan in your head before applying any of the vinyl to your vehicle. Making clear what tools you will be using and knowing where specific pieces of the film will be cut and placed are important. And once you have a clear head, things will appear to be much easier for you.
When applying, do the flattest part of the panel first so that you get a base line to refer, and leave the more difficult areas where it needs heat until later. It is good to put electrical tape to the surface before you need to cut through the film. And remember to use a new blade each time when cutting is needed.
Be careful not to overstretch a film, especially when heating is applied, as when you stretch the vinyl, you are actually also stretching the glue at the same time. Once the film is overstretched, the amount of glue will be thinned out per square inch. This will lead to a failure of adhesion to your car, and lifting or curling might come up in later days.
This is also one of some steps that people might overlook or even skip, yet this is as well one of the most important parts during a wrap installation. In fact, without post heating, you can’t actually say you have finished the job.
Wherever you have stretched the film to fit in difficult areas, it needs post heating. We have talked about why post heating is so important. But I shall briefly remind you why again here: Because of the property of vinyl, the film has a memory that can only be killed when post heated.
However, if you skip this step, it is for sure that the film will shrink back because of the two contradictory forces from its memory and glue. And peeling, curling edges, bubbles, wrinkles, lifting and other problems will then follow.
Thus, it is best to refer to the instruction that the manufacturer provides, where it will tell you at what temperature the memory of your film will be killed, so then all those problems will be avoided. For example, the post heating temperature of most of TeckWrap films is over 100 Celcius.