Graphics need to be updated, the company name is changing, a new phone number, a new logo, selling a company vehicle or expanding the service area are just a few reasons why people need to remove stickers and vinyl graphics from their vehicles or business buildings. Most often, the removal of stickers pertains to vehicles. We’ll focus on this, but the techniques are the same when removing vinyl letters, numbers, and graphics from most surfaces.
Steam action is the most effective
There’s no need to use and expose oneself to strong chemicals. A steamer is the best solution. The steamer has the ability to effectively and efficiently remove almost any vinyl sticker and adhesive.
Different types of vinyl stickers that can be removed with steam
Various types of stickers and vinyl graphics are available on the market. They all behave differently during the removal process. Thin vinyl graphics are the easiest to remove. Some UV-resistant and digitally printed vinyl graphics may be a bit harder to remove. You will quickly learn how to adjust the vinyl sticker removal technique depending on their material.
- PPF – Paint Protection Film
- Wrap – vinyl film with print or solid color
- Stickers – vinyl stickers with print or solid color
Preparation for removing old foil, PPF, and vinyl stickers. You will need:
- Portable steamer
- Plastic scraper
- Microfiber cloth
- Trash bin or bucket
If you are working on a vehicle, prepare your workspace so that you have enough room to move around the car or truck. Work with appropriate lighting; do your work during the day if possible. Let your steamer heat up to deliver steam at a temperature of about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose the right nozzle that delivers strong steam in a small and concentrated area. For safety, do a test on an unseen area before starting large jobs.
How to remove PPF, Wrap or stickers and vinyl graphics using a steamer
Start directing steam to the first letter or graphic. Focus on one element at a time. By directing steam at the vinyl, leave it on this area for about five seconds. This will soften the vinyl. The vinyl material and its binding medium will be removed. If you notice that some of the binding medium remains, adjust the technique for the next piece of vinyl to minimize these residues. You can adjust the steaming time, the angle at which you pull off the vinyl object, and the steam temperature. Due to the many adhesives and binding materials on the market, a difference of five to seven degrees in steam can make a difference.
Use a plastic knife to remove foil, PPF or sticker from the paint
Carefully lift the corner of the vinyl with a plastic spatula. Grab the corner with your fingers and continuously pull the vinyl. Slowly lift the vinyl at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees. This will help prevent it from tearing.
Wipe off the residue with a cloth
Wipe off excess moisture with a microfiber cloth. You can use Fortador Paint Cleaner as a solvent.
Additional work on difficult-to-remove residues
If you have glue residues that need to be removed, use a solvent. Test the solvent on an unseen part of the car, truck, or van. Make sure it does not damage the paint. Most solvents require leaving them on the surface for one to two minutes. Sometimes a regular window cleaner is enough.
Preserving the vinyl material while using steam
Another advantage of using steam to remove vinyl stickers is the ability to preserve the material. Apart from letters and numbers, some business owners may invest more money in the design and material. They may want to stick the removed vinyl works onto another vehicle.
Inform the client that you will do everything in your power to preserve the vinyl, but you really can’t guarantee anything until you start working with the material. Some thinner pieces of vinyl simply crack. Age and exposure to weather conditions may also play a role.