Whether you laminate application tape by hand or with a laminator, avoid trapping air bubbles between the vinyl graphics and the application tape. Bubbles and wrinkles in the application paper often result in bubbles and wrinkles in the applied graphic, regardless of the skill and effort of the installer. If you inspect the adhesive side of a graphic, after removing the release liner, you often can see the formation of wrinkles and bubbles in the adhesive. In the application process, you will just transfer these wrinkles and bubbles to the substrate.
Installation and Removal of EZ Erase Dry Erase Vinyl
EZ Erase™ can be applied to any flat, smooth, clean sign substrate or directly to painted drywall, kitchen cabinets or refrigerators. The operative word is “clean”. If the surface is not clean, I can almost guarantee that you will have adhesion problems.
Carefully inspect the condition of the walls, before applying EZ Erase™ or any other pressure-sensitive vinyl film. Not every surface is suitable for vinyl graphics application.
Prepping Older Wall Surfaces: If an older wall surface is contaminated with years of grease, dirt, and smoke, the wall must be cleaned before applying either a new coat of paint or pressure-sensitive materials. Any areas of the wall that are damaged must be repaired before graphics installation. Don’t expect wall graphics to adhere to peeling or chipped paint, dented wall surfaces, or holes in the wall. Not making necessary repairs often results in vinyl graphics failure.
A painted drywall surface that has been contaminated with grease or dirt must be washed. To ensure that the paint bites into an older painted wall surface, old-time painters would wash the wall with trisodium phosphate (TSP). This heavy-duty cleaner will cut through the years of grease and scum that have accumulated on a wall and have etched the surface; it is available at hardware stores.
For cleaning walls, mix and apply TSP according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Although the TSP cleaners vary, typically about 1/4-cup of TSP is mixed into a gallon of very warm water.
Warning: A strong solution of TSP can strip paint off of wood, discolor metal, and damage some plastics. Because TSP is a powerful cleaner, you should always wear rubber gloves and safety glasses when using this product. Avoid direct contact with your eyes and skin. After washing with TSP, wait for the wall to dry before painting.
Using a sponge, apply the cleaner to the wall surface. Drench the sponge in clean water, wringing it out until it is just damp. Wipe the dirt and grime from the wall surface.
Using a wet sponge, wipe the surface immediately after cleaning. Failure to properly rinse the residue from the wall will contaminate the surface, which will likely cause problems when repainting the wall or applying pressure-sensitive wall graphics.
Prepping Newly Painted Walls: If the walls have been newly painted, allow the paint to cure for a week before applying EZ Erase™. Only after the paint has thoroughly dried, can you install pressure sensitive wall graphics. High humidity or cold temperatures can slow this curing process down.
Even though the drywall has been newly painted, you must prep the surface by wiping it down to with a damp, lint-free rag. Use a mixture of 50% water and 50% alcohol. Wait a half of an hour for the wall to dry thoroughly before starting the application.
Optimal ambient temperature for the application of EZ Erase™ is 70⁰F. Do not install EZ Erase™ to walls with peeling or chipping paint. Damaged walls must be repaired before applying the film.
If there are rough spots caused by debris in the paint, you may need to lightly sand these areas before applying the vinyl wall graphics. Remember: To ensure good graphics adhesion, the wall should be smooth as possible.
Overlaps or Butt Seam: If you are applying multiple sheets of EZ Erase™ to a wall surface, my advice is to overlap the panels by ¼”. That doesn’t mean that you can’t butt seam the panels. It is possible. But here’s the problem. Aligning the edge of one panel to another edge is more time-consuming as well as being a pain in the proverbial butt. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun. On top of that, you will always have hairline seams. What’s more, there is the possibility that the vinyl will shrink. And when it does, that hairline seam will widen and become more apparent.
In some cases, your customer will insist that you apply panels of films with butt seams. To aid alignment of panel to panel match, you can fold back the release liner along the edge which will butt an adjoining panel. This will expose the adhesive system along this edge and allow you to tack the panel in place snuggly against the edge of another panel.
To ensure that you keep your panels level, you can stretch a level line that you can align the top of the graphic sheets to. Applying graphics over a chalk line is not recommended because the chalk dust can contaminate the adhesive causing adhesive failure.
An alternative is, using a pencil, to lightly mark a horizontal line and a vertical line on the wall to aid alignment as you apply the graphics. A four-foot level helps greatly in ensuring that your vertical line is plumb.
When applying vinyl graphics to painted drywall, always install the graphics dry. Don’t perform a wet application to a drywall surface. Wet application will void the warranty.
In applying the graphics panels, installers have developed various application techniques. One popular technique is to align the panel to your pencil markings on the wall and tape it across the top to form a hinge. After removing six to eight inches of the release liner, begin squeegeeing the graphic. As your installation progresses, remove more of the liner as required.
A variation of the top hinge technique is to remove about eight inches of the release liner from the top of the graphic and fold it back on itself. Crease the liner so the graphic lays flat as you align the exposed top edge of your panel to your horizontal alignment marks. Check to see that the panel also lines up with your vertical marks. If you get your first panel applied in perfectly, subsequent panels are easy to line up. Avoid repositioning the graphic as you work; this can pull off any unsecure paint.
When applying wall graphics, start your stroke in the center of the marking and then squeegee horizontally from side to side. Always be sure to use overlapping strokes.
The RTape EZ Erase™ whiteboard vinyl film features a forgiving adhesive system, which aids application. Application ease or difficulty will vary depending on the size of the graphic, ambient temperature and the type of substrate to which the film is applied.
Applications to wall surfaces are generally very easy, even for a novice. Experienced graphics professionals can usually install large panels without the aid of an application tape laminated to the graphic. Whether you use an application tape or not is a personal choice. If you feel more comfortable with using a premask on the film, I recommend using a low to medium tack tape such as RTape 4000 or 4050. After removing the application paper, resqueegee the entire marking-especially the edges-to ensure good adhesion.
Removals. We all know that what goes up, must come down. This holds true for all vinyl graphics. At some point in time, you will need to remove the EZ Erase™ film. The good news is that EZ Erase™ dry erase film removes easily for several months after application on most surfaces. The ease or difficulty encountered in removals, however, depends on several variables, such as surface characteristics of the substrate and the duration that the film has been applied to the surface.
In most cases, removal of EZ Erase™ will be trouble- free. In the unlikely event that adhesive residue remains following removal, clean up the adhesive with a mild adhesive remover, such as Rapid Remover™.
This article was written by Jim Hingst, Business Development Manager-Technology for RTape Corp. and posted on Hingst Sign Post.