Winter Car Wrap Application Best Practices

Monday, January 12, 2015 11:55 am PST



Justin Pate, Certified Graphics Instructor/Installer

2014 was the year of the Polar Vortex, and this upcoming winter is predicted to be just as brutal. From frigid cold temperatures to heavy snowfall, this kind of weather can create some unique challenges when applying graphic vinyl wraps. The Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions technical team has been on the street talking to converters, printers and installers for information to keep you and you covered in the cold.

Here are some winter car wrap tips from the world-renowned master installer, Justin Pate. Justin teaches his techniques as part of the Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions car wrap training program to help create professional standards of quality, durability and efficiency. Here are his orbservations:

  • Vehicles often show up covered in salt and snow, which means the installers have to allocate extra time for cleaning and drying.
  • Workspaces are colder than normal, which makes the material more rigid and even fragile. This can slow down the wrap install process, as it takes additional time to carefully handle the film. 
  • When the install is done, taking the vehicle out into the cold before the adhesive has time to properly bond to the vehicle (12-24 hours) will lead to failures.

To work around these issues, creating a different workflow for this time of year is essential to help maintain high profit margins.

  1. Instead of having the client drop off the vehicle in the morning of the install, request that he or she drop it off the night before.
  2. When the vehicle shows up, use a power washer to remove the tough salt layer that often builds up. This does make the vehicle wet, so be sure to leave the heat on (around 55 - 60 F) to allow the vehicle ample time to dry. This also ensures that the workspace and vehicle are at a good starting temperature in the morning, and you don't have wait for a freezing-cold vehicle or workspace to warm up.
  3. During the winter workday, raise the heat. It’s tempting to lower the temperature to save on the heating bill, but it's important to think about the install time as well. An install at 68 F goes on much quicker and mistake-free than one at 55 F. Most often, the money saved on the install of a properly heated workspace outweighs a slightly higher heating bill.
  4. When the vehicle is done at the end of the day, ask the client to pick the vehicle up the next day. This does mean the vehicle is out of the client’s possession for 2 1/2 days, but if the reasons are properly explained to them, they will most often understand.
  5. Another option is to invest in some infrared heaters to warm the vehicle for 30 minutes when the install is done. Heating the finished wrap speeds up the bonding of the adhesive so when the vehicle hits the cold the material will hold.
  6. Another tip is to make sure and edgeseal the wheelwells and under the bumpers. This keeps the salt and other ice-melting chemicals that are used on roads during the winter months from getting under the edge of the film and causing failures.

If you have a question or face a challenge that you’re not sure how to approach, we encourage you to check the product data bulletins available online, contact your distributor or call the Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions customer service line 800.282.8379, which can refer you to the technical support team.

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