Signmaking: Cautionary notes

caution!This information is a general guide for the use of self-adhesive materials.

Hot weather

Heat causes the adhesive to become more viscous and tacky, whilst softening the face film. If possible, avoid applications in direct sunlight and excess heat, as the adhesive tends to grab at the substrate on impact.

Cold weather

Cold causes the face film to become harder and more brittle, it also impedes adhesion and makes the adhesive less viscous; hence extra care must be taken when handling the product. Make sure that the minimum application temperature for the grade of vinyl being used is adhered to. In general, the minimum temperature for permanent adhesives is approx. 10°C. In cold weather it may be necessary to use a new blade when cutting, as an older blade may skid over the surface of the film. As previously mentioned, the cold weather makes the film brittle, which can result in problems when weeding. If possible, it is helpful to allow the films to acclimatise to room temperature prior to cutting and weeding.

Wet application

Water freezes, so avoid using the wet application method in freezing weather conditions.


All substrates must be clean and free from grease, dirt and foreign matter. We recommend the use of a proprietary degreaser such as RAPIDPREP or Avery Dennison 3D Surface Cleaner for cleaning the substrate prior to application (for further information see our range of Signmakers Fluids). Correct cleaning and application will significantly improve the performance of the self-adhesive material.


After application of a sign to a vehicle, the vehicle should not be washed for several days. Power washers can remove or damage vinyl lettering if too powerful or directed at an angle to the lettering.


Most of our CAS films can be screen-printed and some can also be printed digitally, on solvent or thermal resin type printers. If printing, it is the responsibility of the purchaser to test for ink compatibility.


Some plastic materials i.e. fibreglass, acrylic and Polycarbonate can out-gas, causing bubbling under the film and eventual failure of the adhesive. Out-gassing can similarly occur, when self-adhesive films are applied to a newly painted surface. For example, when using two-pack paints, most paint manufacturers recommend a drying time of at least 12 hours at 20°C. Our experience suggests that this can be an insufficient drying time before the application of self-adhesive films. We recommend a curing time of at least 72 hours prior to application. All reflective films are particularly prone to out-gassing problems.

Plasticiser migration

Some flexible PVC substrates i.e. banners, curtain sides and other PVC films, contain plasticisers to varying degrees. Heavily plasticised films have a tendency to 'leach out' plasticisers during their lifetime. Therefore when a self-adhesive film is applied to one of these substrates, the plasticisers in the substrate will tend to migrate out of the substrate and start to breakdown the adhesive. Through time, this can lead to adhesion problems, cracking of the self-adhesive graphics, and staining of the substrate. Some of our films, such as the MACsoft 900 banner range, have a plasticiser resistant adhesive which can help overcome some of these problems. To help avoid problems with banners we have tested and warranted products such as the LC6700 Series and LUCKY-BANNER for compatibility.

Adhesive milking

Some water or aqueous based adhesives will turn white or "milky" when in contact with water and can look unsightly on glass substrates. The milking will disappear after several hours, occasionally longer, depending on the film being used and atmospheric conditions. The use of RAPIDTAC will often reduce or eliminate this milking effect.

Window graphics

Most of the films featured in the price list can be applied to glass windows. However, there is a small but
theoretical risk of the glass cracking. Cracking of glass, although rare, can occur if large expanses of dark material are applied to the inside or outside of the windowpanes. The reason for this is that glass absorbs energy from the sun and there is a higher absorption level where there are large areas of opaque or dark colours. This can cause the glass to 'dilate'. Some of the critical conditions that can combine and may cause glass failure are: south facing exposure, excessively large and opaque areas of the glass, spring and autumn months, extreme temperatures between night and day, and dilation differences between the covered and exposed glass. The darker and more opaque the colour of vinyl used, the greater the risk of cracking. If using opaque black or other dark shades, it is generally recommended to avoid applying large areas of vinyl to the window. These precautionary measures should keep the risk to a minimum.

Magnetic PVC

Both the vehicle surface and the brown magnetic side of the sign should be clean, dry and lightly waxed prior to application. Pay particular attention to the edges of the sign and particularly the leading edge – even a slight lump or bump on the leading edge will allow air and or moisture under the sign and may lead to the vehicle and sign parting company. Be careful where you lay the sign down as it will naturally attract dust particles which may cause lumps etc. Let one edge of the sign contact the vehicle in the desired position then let the magnet contact the vehicle positioning itself in the correct position from the original edge to the opposite. Bear in mind the aerodynamics of the vehicle when positioning signs – avoid bonnets at all costs, too much air turbulence.

Make sure that the entire surface of the sign is smoothly against the vehicle with no air pockets, wrinkles or bumps which might catch the wind, especially under the forward facing edge. In the winter the temperature of the sign should be about 10ºC during application; avoid frozen or frosted vehicles. Care should be taken with wood grain panelling and metallic finishes, such surfaces should be checked often for the first 90 days of use and thereafter. A generous waxing of both surfaces, both the back of the sign and where it will be placed will help to prevent any damage. Re-painted vehicle surfaces and those of new cars should be avoided for a minimum three months and must be hand wax polished before the sign is to be fitted to seal the surface. Remove frequently to allow the natural ultraviolet light of the sun to evenly bleach the vehicle panels. Do not position over engine compartments as these naturally give off heat which may damage the sign and consequently the vehicle. Remove the sign at least once a week and wipe dry both the magnetic side and the surface of the vehicle. This will keep the moisture from collecting, which can potentially damage the surface of the vehicle. Simply wash it with warm water and mild detergent. Avoid cleaning fluids, petrol acetone, benzene and chlorinated solvents. Remove road film and any dirt before applying or re-applying the sign to the vehicle. Make sure that the sign is removed after rain, sleet or snow and wiped dry, as moisture collecting behind the sign may damage it and possibly the vehicle if left unchecked.

Avoid wrinkling by storing in a 6" diameter roll with the printed side of the sign on the outside of the roll, or store the sign flat. Since the magnetic sheet is permanently magnetic, you do not need to protect it against magnetic destruction but beware that it will naturally attract dust particles, so store in a clean environment. Don't put heavy objects on it or leaning up against it while in storage. During cold weather allow the sign to uncurl in a warm atmosphere before use.