Tools & Techniques Overview

Cleaning & Preparation

The best practice is to wash your vehicle the day before the installation so it has time to dry completely. Do NOT use wax, rain-x, spot free rinses or tire shine. These chemicals can create a barrier between the graphics and paint and  affect the long-term durability of your graphics. If your vehicle is extremely dirty or still wet at the time of installation, it may cause delays and/or additional charges.

Typically, the graphics installer will only clean the areas where the graphics will be installed. Installers use a mild soap and water solution to clean water soluble contaminants. Solvents, prep-sol and degreasers are used to remove tar, wax and grease. A final cleaning with isopropyl alcohol will remove any remaining residue.


Now that the vehicle is clean and dry, graphic installation can begin. On complex curves and recessed areas the vinyl will have to be stretched but it should be kept to a minimum. Over streched vinyl will get lighter in color and be prone to premature failure. Some vinyl manufactures recommend using an adhesion promoter in these areas to keep the vinyl from lifting or tenting (adhesion promoters are not recommended with Oracal vinyl). With adhesive promoters thicker is not better. They are meant to be applied in a thin layer in strategic areas. Over using primer can cause failurs and/or your graphics removal costs could skyrocket.

Foam rollers help install graphics in recessed areas or over rivets and textured surfaces. Heat the vinyl between 195 and 220 degrees and roll it with the appropriate roller. The heat helps reset the vinyl’s memory and allows the adhesive flow and build it's maximum bond quicker. The foam conforms to irregular surface and firm pressure will insure the adhesive makes complete contact.

Knifeless Tape is an exciting new technology allowing graphics to be trimmed directly on the vehicle without the risk of cutting the paint.

Post Installation

After the graphics are installed all problem areas and edges need to be posted heated to 195 to 220 degrees. The rollers should be used again to add pressure in the recesses. This decreases the time required for the adhesive to build maximum bond and insure the long term durability of your graphics. You wait a minimum of 48 hours before washing your vehicle. More info: caring for and cleaning your graphics>>>


There are lots of qualified installers that aren't certified but finding the right one can be a daunting task. On the other hand, most certifications require an installer to take a written test and demonstrate their installation proficiency. Learn more>>>