Application Preparation Guide

Substrate requirements

A great deal of time and effort goes into designing and making a graphic. The next step to obtaining a high-quality, long-lasting graphic is to use the proper preparation and application techniques for each type of substrate.

Films and sheetings can be applied to most substrates that are:

  • Clean. All substrates must be considered contaminated and must be cleaned prior to application, with the last cleaning step being done immediately before application. Even a freshly painted substrate can collect dust before graphics can be applied.
  • Dry.Any moisture trapped beneath the graphic will cause the graphic to fail prematurely. Moisture prevents the adhesive from adhering correctly, can cause bubbles, and can freeze in cold environments.

Moisture results from:

  • Inadequate drying after cleaning as well as from application solutions.
  • Failure to pre-dry some substrates such as polycarbonate sheeting.
  • Condensation at low temperatures.
  • High humidity environments.

It is impossible to keep the substrate dry if there is condensation or high humidity.

Because of the difficulty of removing all of the moisture, wet application methods are not recommended for use on vehicles or non-flat surfaces.

  • Relatively non-porous. Porous materials absorb moisture which affects the ability of the film or sheeting to adhere to the surface.
  • Smooth. It is more difficult for the adhesive to make good contact with textured surfaces if the roughness is greater than that of 150 grit sandpaper. Refer to General Procedures for Interior and Exterior Dry Applications, for application techniques to rough surfaces.