What Goes Up Must Come Down

When installing graphics, equal consideration must be given to the clean removal of printed substrates

When I do a training session on Drytac products with end-users and installers, I usually start by asking if anyone has ever had an issue with an installation. Usually, a few people sheepishly put up their hands. I then ask the follow-up question: “Has anybody ever had an issue with removal of a graphic?” and just about everybody puts up their hand.

When installing graphics, the first thoughts often relate to how easily an image will go up and how well it will anchor to the surface. But, often forgotten is what will happen at the end of the life of a graphic. Does it need to stay up for days, weeks, months, or even years?

Knowing what will happen at the time of removal is critical to customer satisfaction. Complications in the clean removal of graphics can cause many issues and a costly clean-up. In the worst case, it can damage the surface to which the graphic is applied, leaving your customer extremely disappointed and potentially creating liability.

Luckily, some film and vinyl manufacturers look at the entire lifespan, refresh cycle, and removal requirements of a printed product. Installers need the holy grail in adhesive graphics: predictable installation and predictable removal.

Film adhesive options

The most common options available are permanent or removable adhesive substrates. Permanent is just that; the adhesive is designed to stay up long term, and there are no expectations about how easy it will come off. Removable adhesive is less aggressive; depending on the surface, it should come cleanly off (although it may require some heat and elbow grease). It is important to remember that with time, usually six months to a year, a removable adhesive will become more permanent due to changes in the adhesive chemistry.

There’s now another option available. Repositionable or peelable adhesives can be used multiple times and are designed to be easy to apply as they can be put down and picked up to ensure proper placement. In addition, they can be used multiple times and are residue-free upon removal.

Whether a professional installer or an inexperienced end-user, the right adhesive will guarantee predictable installation and predictable removal. When you pay attention to a graphic’s entire life cycle, you help eliminate customer disappointment and hopefully gain more repeat business.

As per the well-known phrase: “What goes up must come down!”

Peter Bourgeois

Peter Bourgeois


Peter Bourgeois is the territory sales manager for Western Canada and the Northwest U.S., at Drytac.

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