Lots of people love enhancing surfaces such as store windows and doors, car windshields, etc. with customized vinyl graphics, but not everyone feels confident they can apply them without error. The following article explains in detail the best method for applying any smaller-scale vinyl graphics you’ve ordered on your own – we’ll make you the professional! We recommend you read the directions entirely before you start the process and then use them as a guide while working on each step. TOOLS YOU’LL NEED A measuring tape 1”w + masking or painter’s tape Scissors Rubbing alcohol in a spray container Microfiber or lint-free paper towels Handheld squeegee (find this at most hardware stores) or credit card Transfer/Application tape* If your graphics did not come with transfer tape applied, you’ll need to add it to the surface of your graphics – the finished side – first. All die-cut letters/numbers will always come taped. PREPARATION Step 1: Flatten Graphics The graphics you’ve received were likely rolled into a sturdy tube for protection during shipping. You’ll need to remove them from the packaging and lay them on a flat surface for several hours to a whole day to flatten them out. Never fold or crease graphics, especially die-cut. If they have wrinkled, a weighted, flat object on top is helpful. Once they are flat and no longer roll themselves back up, you’re ready to move forward. Do not remove transfer/application tape. If your graphics did not come with tape included, you’ll need to apply it before moving on to the finished surface of your graphics. Application tape is available at most craft stores in smaller rolls or online. Step 2: Clean the Surface Wash the surface if heavily soiled; exterior surfaces may require this extra preparation. Even if visually clean, always wipe the graphics area with a lint-free cloth and rubbing alcohol. Avoid Windex and products containing ammonia. A good way to test surface cleanliness is to use a small piece of masking tape. Stick it to the surface and see how well it sticks. If it rolls up, clean the area again. Once the surface is completely clean and dry, you’re ready to install. INSTALLATION Step 3: Measure Twice Visually position graphics onto the desired location with the finished side facing out towards you. Tab in place with masking or painter’s tape on the top of each side – about 2” each, with half on the graphics and half on the surface. Use a measuring tape to measure the distance from the top or bottom, or sides of graphics, depending on what you’re centering/aligning them to, and make adjustments with the positioning as needed. Once aligned, measure again to be sure. Press tape tabs in top firmly in place before moving forward. Step 4: Make a Hinge Use masking or painter’s tape to create a hinge on the top of your graphics; you can tape right over your positioning tabs without worry. You’ll want to make this hinge about 3”h, so a few rows or thicker tape works, just aim for half on the surface and half on the graphics. The more secure this step is, the less room there is for movement and application error. Flip the graphic up on its hinge and use your squeegee to go over the backside of the graphics to ensure good contact between the tape and vinyl graphics. Then let hang. Step 5: Divide Into Sections Depending upon how wide your graphics are or the shape of the surface itself, it’s helpful to cut graphics into smaller sections. This reduces the risk of pulling pieces off with application tape and bubbles or wrinkling. Use your scissors to find a halfway point and cut between characters from the bottom all the way to the top – the hinge you created will keep the pieces in place. Your sections can hang freely in place below your secure hinges. Step 6: Remove the Backing Now that your graphics are safely hinged and cut into more manageable pieces, it’s time to remove the backing. One section at a time – we recommend working from left to right – lift the entire piece up, flipping it upside down upon the hinge. Carefully peel the backing off with one hand while holding the tape (where the backing was removed) in the other so it does not flop down and discard the backing. It is imperative you do not let the now sticky piece fall. Maintain placement with your hand and slowly lower it back into place over the application area without yet touching the surface. With this flap in hand, hovering over your position, you’re ready to apply. Step 7: Apply the Graphics While still holding the tape just over the application site with one hand, place your squeegee in the top center of your graphics and slowly move from side to side in rows – keeping the device flat to the surface and not at a sharp angle – all the way down to the bottom. This motion helps reduce air bubbles and will stick the pieces into place. It will be easy to see through the application tape where you have stuck and where you have not. Repeat this for all sections. Your graphics should be stuck in place upon completion. Step 8: Remove Transfer Tape This step takes a little finesse but should be pretty easy if everything above was successfully completed. When removing the tape, you’ll want to keep flat, steady pressure and peel from the “fat” side first – which is typically left to right. Pulling from the “back” of letters and numbers, or the thicker sides of characters help prevent accidental pull-ups (The left side of a letter E is thicker and less likely to pull away than the smaller side). Keep your squeegee handy and if any portion does begin to peel up, simply push it back into place with the squeegee over the tape and go over the area with a few more firm swipes. Discard tape. Step 9: Admire Now that you’re finished applying the vinyl, take a look at your work. Any small bubbles can be pushed out with your hands, moving air towards the outside edges of characters, but most will work themselves out with a day or so, depending upon the heat outside. When you’re happy with your work, take a picture and post it on our Instagram @brand9signs with #InstalledMineBrand9. AFTERCARE Depending upon the surface you’ve applied your graphics to, it’s best to care for them gently over time. We recommend hand washing and/or simply spray with rubbing alcohol and a cloth, just like Step 1. Avoid products containing ammonia and other harsh chemicals that may make the material brittle or fade.