5 Reasons Why Your Vinyl Lettering May Be Peeling Off

Far too often, you see vinyl lettering and graphics that are peeling off of vehicles and trailers.  Perhaps you are having this problem yourself.  Ever wonder why this happens?  Here are five key reasons why this occurs:

Old vinyl

All vinyl has a maximum outdoor life.  It is quite possible that the vinyl you see peeling has reached its maximum lifespan and is beginning to fail.  If this is the case, it’s time for the old vinyl to be removed and new vinyl to be installed.

Calendared vs. cast vinyl

There are two main types of vinyl used – calendared and cast.  Calendared vinyl is a lower quality vinyl that has a maximum outdoor life of up to 5 years.  It is a cost effective solution for signs and applications that will likely be replaced within 3 to 5 years.  This vinyl has a tendency to shrink and peel over time due to the way it is manufactured.  Often times, this lower quality vinyl gets used without the customer being aware of its inherent problems.  Cast vinyl, on the other hand, has a maximum outdoor life of up to 9 to 10 years (depending on the manufacturer).  This vinyl costs more up front, but is designed to take the abuse that vehicle graphics are often subjected to.  This is the best choice for long term use.

Improper installation

If a vehicle is not cleaned properly before the vinyl is installed, the vinyl will fail prematurely.  Proper cleaning includes removal of all dirt, grime, wax, and other residues from the surface that the vinyl is to be applied to.  Installing vinyl in temperatures of 55 degrees or less will also cause premature failure.  During the colder months it is imperative that the install be done inside of a heated building, being sure that the vehicle/trailer has had adequate time to warm up.  It is also important to allow the installed vinyl to sit in the heated environment for 1-2 hours after installation to ensure proper adhesion. 

Washing practices

It is important to take care when washing any vehicle or trailer that has vinyl lettering or graphics.  If you prefer to use automatic car washes, use the touchless washes.  Avoid automatic car washes that uses brushes or anything that may catch or rub the vinyl off.  If you prefer to use a power washer, take care so as to not “blast” the vinyl off.  Try to hold the wand perpendicular to the vehicle and avoid spraying at an angle, especially along the edges of the vinyl.  During the hot summer months, avoid washing the vehicle/trailer when the outside temperature is above 90 degrees.  The hotter temperatures will soften the adhesive on the vinyl making the vinyl more susceptible to lifting/peeling.  It is important to wash your vehicle during the winter months as well.  The chemicals used on the roads to melt ice can damage the vinyl and cause it to fail.  Washing at least once a month will help the longevity of the vinyl.

Bad vinyl

As much as we don’t like it, sometimes you get a bad batch of vinyl.  This doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen.  Always make sure your sign provider guarantees the materials used and the installation of those materials.   

There are other possible causes for lifting or peeling vinyl but these are the 5 most common reasons we encounter.  When properly installed and maintained, your vinyl will give you a professional appearance for years. 

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