As we transition from the holiday season into the bitter winter months, many business owners are wondering: is it too cold out to install vinyl graphics?
While the answer will depend on your exact location, we can shed some general best practices on vinyl’s optimal temperature range.
For starters, extreme cold can affect the performance of your vinyl graphic’s face film and adhesive. In seriously frigid spots, this will make installation impossible.
On the flip side, film and adhesive doesn’t do particularly well in the heat, either.
Consider this post a beginner’s guide to vinyl graphic installation temperatures, courtesy of the Signworld business alliance. We share some temperature guidelines and best practices for cold weather maintenance and installation.
Let’s get started!
What happens to vinyl in the cold?
You know that cold weather installation is a bad idea, but why is that, exactly?
First of all, extreme cold reduces the plasticity of PVC face film, which can cause some problems during your installation. The face film is the colored part of the vinyl. This is a problem because low plasticity means less ability to conform to a curved or slightly textured surface. Of course, conformability isn’t an issue if your substrate is smooth and flat.
But choosing a smooth, flat substrate won’t solve all of your problems. Extreme cold also affects the adhesive. If temperatures in your area fall below the recommended minimum range, the adhesive will become brittle. This prevents it from “wetting out,” which is necessary to properly mold and bond to the substrate.
How cold is too cold?
Now you know why you should avoid the cold, but what’s the cut-off point?
Though every vinyl will be slightly different, we do not recommend attempting an installation when temperatures fall below 45°F (7° C). To find the specifications for your vinyl graphic, consult the manufacturer’s information or contact a Signworld business partner in your area.
What else do I need to know about handling vinyl signs in cold weather?
The following weathering and storage tips should help you get the best results from your vinyl sign this winter:
- If you’re storing your vinyl sign in an unheated space this winter, be sure to give all materials a chance to warm to room temperature before you begin your installation. You should take the same approach with everything: masking tape, over-laminate film, or any other adhesive product you may be using.
- In the same vein as the previous tips, be sure to warm up your substrate before you begin the installation – it’s called a “minimum surface temperature” for a reason, after all. In most cases, this can be accomplished by simply pointing space heaters at the installation area. Be careful not to overdo it – as we said earlier, excess heat is also a problem!
- Be patient after your installation is complete. It can take days for the adhesive to wet out and bond completely. With this in mind, try to keep your vinyl-upgraded sign or vehicle in a warm place for a few days before subjecting it to the cold.
Get more vinyl sign tips from the Signworld business alliance
Find a Signworld partner in your area who can answer all of your question – visit http://www.signworld.org to use our directory and book a free consultation.