Installing vinyl can be as easy as slapping some decals onto a window or as hard as wrapping corrugated surfaces riddled with grooves and rivets. The good news is that our products are perfectly suited for either application, however the more complicated jobs might take a little bit of a different technique than what you’re used to employing in a simple vehicle wrap install. That’s where a heat gun, torch, or even your house-hold hair dryer can really be a job saver.
Most jobs that you tackle with our products don’t require the materials to be heated at all. Our Premium materials are designed to be highly conformable and can fairly easily be stretched and conformed around corners, into small grooves or over bumps or other features on the surface you’re camouflaging. With the built in features of the state-of-the-art IJ-180C vinyl we use, not only can you stretch and conform around corners and curves, you can actually reposition the vinyl up until you go over it with a squeegee (more info on our Premium materials here). However, as with anything there are limits to what you can accomplish without damaging the materials, and that’s where adding heat can come to the rescue.
The ideal tool for this job is an adjustable heat gun (for our shop installs, we generally use a heat gun made by Wagner similar to this one; similar products are available at most home stores such as Lowes or Home Depot for $25 up to $100 or more), but if you don’t have access to a heat gun or just don’t wanna spend the extra cash, a propane torch or even a hair dryer will usually do the trick. The main thing to watch out for, especially with the heat gun or torch, is you don’t want to overheat the material because it will get too soft and could actually start to melt beyond use and the piece will just have to be discarded. It’s probably a good idea to take a small piece of scrap material (cut off a corner or a small strip off the end if necessary) and heat it up gradually to get an idea of how the material will react to the heat. It really doesn’t take much time to get the point where the vinyl will begin to soften and allow you to get that extra bit of conformability you need.
So when will you need to bring the heat? Probably the most common spot we use this technique would be on door handles. Door handles on trucks are complex and often times are pretty deeply recessed into the door. With other similar camouflage products made from calendared vinyl (again, refer back to this article to learn the difference between cast and calendared vinyl!), you would have to do tons of relief cuts and patches to get good coverage on the door handles and in the pocket beneath. But with our Premium camouflage vinyl, you can often get by with just a few cuts around the features of the handle and then heating the material to allow it to suck down into the pocket behind the handle itself. For some handles, we’re even able to simply work with the material from the sheet that’s going over the door and don’t need to create a patch at all.
Admittedly, the first time you try to work camouflage vinyl down into the crevices of your truck’s door handles, it might not work out perfectly. After just a few attempts, however, you’re likely to pick up on how to get it heated just right and stretch down exactly where you want it to go. As with anything, practice makes perfect and doing these complicated vinyl installs where heat may be necessary is no different.
Some other instances where you may need to bring out the heat could be some rifles and other firearms, ATVs, grooved roofs on golf carts or utility vehicles, trailers with riveted panels (heat can be used to get a tighter wrap over the rivets), or anything that needs camo but has some of these complicated features.
As always, if you have questions or need a little more advice, you’re encouraged to give us a call at 800.585.8550. Our in-house installer John is more than happy to take your questions and talk you through some of these more difficult jobs and help you figure just what you need to do get the job done right!