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Tips For Removing Permanent Adhesive & Weathered Graphics

Posted by
Jul 07, 2017 12:43pm
Posted in: Quick Tips

Have you ever been asked to remove permanent vinyl vehicle graphics that are cracked and weathered due to age? If you have, you know how difficult these graphics can be to remove and the amount of time it can take. There are times where using a heat gun or propane torch just doesn’t work. Below are some removal options that can help:

Hand Removal Tools

If you prefer a hand tool for removing graphics, you may want to try the MBX Vinyl Zapper. This is a tool that has been on the market for many years and performs very well. It’s available in both an electric version, as well as a pneumatic version.

Features of this tool include:

  • The unique Eraser Wheel is designed with notched “fingers” that grab the edge of the vinyl and peel it from the surface.
  • Vinyl and adhesive are removed without damaging OEM paint or harming substrate material.
  • Adhesive residue will be removed while striping vinyl.
  • There is no heat damage or smearing of adhesive on the substrate.

The pros are that it requires no chemicals and removes the vinyl relatively fast. The cons are that it can be very messy and can damage the paint or substrate the graphics are applied to, if you don’t pay very close attention.

Steam Removal

The newest tool on the market that has generated a lot of buzz is the new Pressure on Demand or P.O.D 2.0 Low Temp Steamer. The benefit of this tool is that it is a non-corrosive/non-chemical vinyl remover.

This steamer is designed to provide steam pressure on demand at a lower temperature, making it safer for the user to use without fear of harming the user. It can also be used to install films. The powerful flow of steam is designed to soften the film and the adhesive, reducing the risk of leaving behind adhesive residue. It comes with multiple head attachments and only uses 1 liter of distilled water for the average size car,  making it an environmentally friendly product. The P.O.D.2 Steamer  is very easy to use, the only clean up will be water and vinyl pieces and there are no fumes.

Chemical Solutions

If you’re looking for a chemical that is a powerful industrial-strength remover, I have used Citristrip® Gel (available at local hardware stores and Walmart). It can be effectively used to remove a single layer film like Sw 900 wrap film. It contains no Methylene Chloride and is non-caustic making it safe to use indoors. It’s designed to stay wet and active for up to 24 hours. As with any product, it is recommend that you read and follow the product’s instructions and try it on a small inconspicuous area of the wrap first, to ensure it doesn’t damage the surface underneath the vinyl.

Here are steps for using this gel to remove graphics:

  • Using a foam roller, brush roll the gel over the face of the graphics being removed
  • After rolling on the gel, cover the graphics using plastic wrap, cling film or a polyester liner
  • Allow the gel to set up and penetrate the graphics for 30 minutes. If working on fiberglass, do not let it sit longer as it can soften the fiberglass.
  • Remove the plastic wrap or polyester liner and use a ScrapeRite Plastic Razor blade to start an edge of the graphic and work the vinyl loose.

Chemical stripper can help speed up the removal and make the job a little easier, however it can be messier and requires wearing personal protective gear to avoid direct skin contact which can cause irritation.

For more information on removal strategies, reach out to Cindy Richards @ cindy.richards@averydennison.com

Content adapted from Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions Newsletter May 2017.


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