In a previous life, I managed all marketing and communications activities for a large industrial equipment supplier. I was master juggler – balancing sales materials, campaign budgets and events in one hand, logo’d knick-knacks in the other.
As such, it was no surprise to me when I became the official protector of all brand graphics, including the vinyl wraps on our service vans. Requests for new vinyls would regularly come in from the field, mostly to replace doors damaged in road accidents. I would approve them with little hindsight, until other – more alarming – reports began trickling in.
First on a handful of vans, then dozens, wraps were failing every week, seemingly, for no reason. One was peeling away from a rear windshield in Tampa. Water was pooling underneath another in Little Rock. In Charlotte, the rich company blue on a few wraps was fading to a dusty lilac. (Nothing says heavy-duty machinery like mauve!)
Eventually we linked our problems to poor quality materials and sub-par installation. We quickly hired a new wrap vendor, Pro Cal, which identified a third culprit behind our tattered wraps. We weren’t taking proper care of them. Long periods between washings were usually followed by quick trips to the automatic car wash – two big no-no’s in the care of wraps.
Pro Cal schooled us on these other dos and don’ts in the after-installation care of wraps:
DO: Hand wash your vehicle regularly, rinse with clean water and air dry or dry with a clean microfiber cloth.
DON’T: Use abrasive chemicals with strong solvents, such as acetone, M.E.K., toluene, paint thinner or lacquer thinner. Any solvent may soften or smear colors.
DO: Keep high-pressure nozzles at least four feet from graphics to prevent peeling. Keep water pressure under 800 psi and spray at a 45-degree angle in a soft sweeping motion.
DON’T: Apply paint or wax over graphics, especially if the wax contains petroleum distillates. Wax that has dried between stripes can be removed by softening it with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs. Be sure to rinse the area after cleaning.
DO: Test any cleaning solution on a small section of the decal before using.
DON’T: Let gasoline drips or other fuels stay on graphics for any length of time. If a spill occurs, wipe off and rinse with water immediately.
With the right care, the average vinyl vehicle wrap should last five to seven years. Follow these handy tips and your wraps will stay as good-looking as the day they were installed!
Author: Heather Cummings