Apply heat in short bursts, at a distance of 8 inches or more, to prevent melting of vinyl.
Force out air bubbles to the label sides with the squeegee. Stubborn bubbles can be pierced with a common pin or razor knife, and burnished with the squeegee.
Form label around rivets or into seams (if present) by applying heat from a hair dryer, and burnishing the area with a sign maker’s rivet brush. Piercing the surrounding rivet “dome” will assist in air bubble release from these areas.
Measure the vinyl label and application area to ensure proper fit and orientation. Perform a “dry fit” by holding the label into position, and marking the corner and edge locations on the metal surface with a China marker (grease pencil).
McKay, Matt. “How to Apply Vinyl Labels to Metal.” Bizfluent, https://bizfluent.com/how-5754930-apply-vinyl-labels-metal.html. 26 September 2017.
Dry surface with clean, dry cotton towel, wringing the towel out frequently.
Swing the label up, securing with a small piece of masking tape, and spray the application area with a light coat of vinyl application fluid. The spray helps eliminate air bubbles and further strengthens the adhesive as it evaporates. The spray will also allow slight repositioning of the label if necessary.
Installing when surface and ambient temperatures are above 80 or below 50 degrees Fahrenheit should be avoided if possible.
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Small labels, decals, lettering and bumper stickers can be applied in a similar manner but will typically not require application fluid.
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How to Apply Vinyl Labels to Metal by Matt McKay – Updated September 26, 2017
Smooth the decal onto the surface with a sign maker’s squeegee, working from the top hinge edge down. One hand will operate the squeegee, while the other maintains the “U” shape. Squeegee pressure should be firm, and be certain to burnish all areas of the label as you work toward the bottom.
Commercial application fluid is superior to homemade concoctions of soap and water and is quite inexpensive.
Peel the backing liner from the label, while holding it in an upright position on the hinge, and let it hang in a “U” shape, while one hand is holding the free edge.
McKay, Matt. (2017, September 26). How to Apply Vinyl Labels to Metal. Bizfluent. Retrieved from https://bizfluent.com/how-5754930-apply-vinyl-labels-metal.html
Peel back the top layer of application tape (if provided by the manufacturer) to expose the label’s vinyl surface.
Wash the surface thoroughly with soap and water using a sponge.
Rinse thoroughly with clear water through a hose, or with buckets of clean water.
Inspect the surface for cleanliness, making note of imperfections or surface obstacles which you may have to address.
Burnish entire label once more with the squeegee to ensure adhesion. Some installers perform another burnishing after 12 hours or so, or when application fluid has evaporated.
Tape a strip of masking tape along the top edge of the label, forming a hinge. The label should be free to swing up and down, while being firmly held in place by the tape hinge.
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McKay, Matt. “How to Apply Vinyl Labels to Metal” last modified September 26, 2017. https://bizfluent.com/how-5754930-apply-vinyl-labels-metal.html
Wipe the label and surrounding areas with a cotton towel to remove excess application fluid.
Successful application of vinyl labels, decals or lettering to vehicles, machines and other metal surfaces starts with proper surface preparation and planning. Even small dirt particles will appear as imperfections in the vinyl, so thorough cleaning is an absolute necessity. If applying vinyl over seams and rivets, they may at first seem problematic. But a few easy tricks can make easy work out of these and other surface obstacles. Vinyl contains an aggressive adhesive that becomes stronger with time, but even the best adhesives are no match for fuel, oil and other chemical residue on the application surface.