How to ensure a professional, perfect vinyl wrap to stay perfect and not to get shrinkage and curling of the vinyl film.
First, make sure you follow The 4 Rules of a proper vinyl wrap:
– Plan & measure
– Don’t over stretch
The last step is where most installers and DIY’ers make a mistake or just don’t do it. Many installers skip it and almost all DIY’ers don’t even know to do this! This should never be skipped. Your vehicle wrap is not complete until you post heat!
Post heating is for areas where you stretched the material around complex shapes, curves, corners, etc. For areas that are flat and no stretching of the material was necessary you don’t need to post heat.
Once you install a vinyl with stretching You’ve set two forces in motion: the memory of the vinyl that wants pull away and get beck to it’s original shape and the adhesive keeping it on your car. In order to resolve this war between the memory the glue and what you want the vinyl to actually do you have to post-heat. Heating the vinyl for a short period of time will get it back to it’s original perfect shape & form, but heating it for a longer time will make it loose it’s memory. This is what you want! You need the material to forget about trying to get back to it’s original manufactured shape & form once you have installed it over a complex shape such as side view mirrors, corners, door handles, etc. Once the vinyl looses it’s memory, it will stay in the same shape & form as you have installed it over your vehicle. Once memory is last there is no going back even with heat, this will be the final condition, shape of the vinyl film.
How to Post-Heat:
You must use a heat gun! Must also use an infrared thermometer in unison with the heat gun to be able to measure the vinyl’s temperature during the post-heating process. Most vinyl will lose memory around 180 Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius) Once it reaches that temperature the memory dies.
Heat the area by moving the heat gun around or back-and-forth (do not keep it stationary pointing at one spot as it may over-heat the vinyl too quickly) and use your temperature gauge to ensure the heat is around 180 Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius). Don’t worry too much if it goes a bit higher. It is essential to get out all the air bubbles, if there are any left, just push them away once the vinyl cooled a bit.
So be sure to apply this to all complex shapes, recesses and extrusions: bumpers, mirrors, overlaps etc. If you don’t do this your vinyl could return to its original shape and start lifting, bubbling & curling if over stretched.
Never forgo your IR gauge by thinking you can achieve the same results by just heating for a longer period of time. That type of guesswork is dangerous as you may overheat the vinyl and damage the finish!
Be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s post heating requirements.
Every vinyl is different, understand what works for the one you’re using. Generally 180 Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius) is good, but verify!
This is a technical process even if you are not a pro. Your vinyl must reach a certain temperature as this is a chemical reaction that responds to heat.
A hairdryer is too weak, a propane torch is too strong, a heat gun is just right.
Better to take 20 minutes extra time to do it right than having to suffer ridicule at the site of a shoddy job.