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Buyer's Guide for Self-Adhesives

Choosing an Adhesive Advertising Print

Prismaprint's self-adhesive allows you to use your window, walls, floors, or any existing surface as a communication display without any stands or mounting tools necessary. This can be a great way to share your business logo, event endorsement, or promotional advertisement and attract potential clients and customers. Our product is designed to make a statement in your retail store, office window, or any place of business, without going unnoticed.  Smaller adhesive size ranges less than 1 m² or 10 square feet and can be easily installed. The larger prints usually overlap and require professional installation. Some adhesives are easier to install than others, such as the Architectural Graphic, and are recommended for small surfaces and interior use only.  Our self-adhesives provide a thin application. Lightweight, these prints are delivered in rolled-up sheets. Smaller stickers can be shipped in compact packaging. When installed, these adhesive prints use little to no floor space, particularly in high-trafficked areas.  The range of adhesive films and prints available is extensive. There is an adhesive solution for almost every application including wall stickers, metal sheet panels, bricks, ceilings, floors, and much more. It is important to find the right self-adhesive for your surface. We hope this guide will help you with your print orders. 

Which Product Should I Choose?

The Self Adhesive is made of three main components; the film, the adhesive, and the lining.

The Film

The film is the printed part of the material. Most films are made of PVC, which is why they are often referred to as "vinyl", "vinyl sticker", or "vinyl adhesive". We also carry adhesive films made from PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) or Polyolefin. A PVC-free adhesive print is often an ideal choice due to its environmentally-conscious factors, or when PVC is a less desirable option. A PET film is more resistant to scratching and extreme temperature conditions.

There are three types of self-adhesive films:

Monomer Films

The monomer film, also known as calendered vinyl, is the most produced PVC film. These economical films use monomer plasticizers and the films are commonly used for short to medium-term applications. They are often used in event displays and can last from 1 to 2 years of exterior use. The monomer film is mainly used for promotional advertisements for a few months on a flat or slightly curved surface such as powder-coated sheet metal, glass, melamine, Dibond, or temporary floor decals.

Polymer Films

The polymer films are also calendared. The plasticizers use a polymer and are more efficient. They are more stable in larger sizes with stability. They are more weather resistant and have a longer life span that can last up to 5 to 7 years. Typically, they will have less shrinkage once installed and will retain their flexibility longer, which prevents cracking or failing along the edges.

Unlike PVC, which can crease in cold weather conditions, polymer films can be applied at lower temperatures than their monomeric adhesive counterparts. They are also used on flat or rugged surfaces for a longer lifespan, used in interior and exterior space. Often applied for permanent information panels such as parking signs, traffic signage, or wayfinding on the ground for a medium duration.

Cast Film

Unlike calendared films, cast films are made from mixing ingredients together and pouring them into a moving mold. When baked in an oven, the solvent evaporates and leaves a thin stable material to be rolled. The sheet is rolled in a plastic state and can be stretched and shaped into the desired shape around complex curves. The material is thin, commonly 2 mm. Being stable extends the durability of the film up to 10 years.

The cast film is primarily used for complex curves such as pillar graphics. Other uses include permanent wall murals with long-term removability, thermoforming or, die-cut lettering. The adhesive film is often sold pre-coloured or manufactured in a white roll for lettering so that it may be printed and cut into shape if needed.

For window application, cast vinyl has a grey backside and may not be 100% opaque. There are also other types of films that can be printed if needed.

Reflective Films

Reflective films are perfect for road signs or security footage. The lustered films for gold, copper, or silver look with a smooth or textured surface,

Perforated Window Film

Micro-perforated adhesives are also referred to as " see-through", or "one-way" adhesives, and are widely used for communication displays on glass surfaces such as storefronts or interior glass windows. These adhesive films have holes that are up 20 to 40 percent and have a black adhesive backside. When printed and adhered to the exterior of a window, the outside shows the visual, while the back features a black film. The result allows you to see through the material from one side, while your prints are visually displayed from the other.

The higher the perforated rate, the better visibility through the glass. Conversely, a low perforation rate will give a better resolution to the image outside. Perforated films are available in monomeric or polymeric films depending on the desired life span and installation constraints. It is important to choose a good-quality micro-perforated adhesive that will be easily removed without leaving any trace of adhesive on the glass.

The Adhesive

There are different types of adhesives depending on the use for which the application requires:

  • Adjustable Adhesives: these adhesives allow you to remove and reposition the film several times before letting it set. Some adhesives remain adjustable, while other materials are a little difficult to re-adjust.
  • Removable adhesives: these adhesives make it easier to remove the film once the advertising campaign is over. The "removability" is often 1 year or less depending on the applications. Beyond this time frame, the adhesive polymer and can become difficult to remove or in some cases remains permanent.
  • Permanent Adhesives: these adhesives are used for long-term applications and are ideal for exterior signage.
  • Reinforced Adhesives: these adhesives are used to apply printed films on challenging surfaces such as wood, plywood, or concrete for covering fences or to cover rough and porous surfaces.
  • Special Adhesives: there are specific adhesives specially designed for certain surfaces such as asphalt or tarpaulin.

The adhesives used for advertising prints are often acrylic. They are water-based or more often solvent-based for better chemical stability and durability.

These adhesives can be manufactured in different colors which provides a different opacity to the sticker. Transparent glues are used for lightboxes, signs, and window sticker applications. A grey glue is adopted for opacity, often used for hiding the background colours.

For some films, the glue is applied during manufacturing in microdots. This type of adhesive sometimes referred to as “easy dot” allows for an easier installation, removal, and adjustable decals of the adhesive vinyl, especially for promotional applications or during special events.

In all cases, the choice of adhesive is very important. Using the wrong adhesive can damage the application surface, especially when it is painted, varnished, or result in a difficult or impossible removal. Our consultants are here to advise you on the most suitable adhesive for your application.

The Lining

The lining is the part that is removed to free the adhesive side of the print. It is either made of silicone paper or polymer. A polymer liner will be more durable and can make the installation easier.

In some cases, the lining contains gridlines. This is used to make the adhesive easier to cut prior to the application. Some linings have small ridges that form small channels on the adhesive film. During installation, the air trapped between the substrate and the adhesive will flow more easily through these small channels and facilitate the removal of air bubbles. These are called "submissive" adhesive films.

Fire Rating

Some adhesives are fire-rated M or Euroclass in Europe of NFPA in USA or CAN-ULC in Canada which may be required in applications such as inside public areas.

Opacity

The opacity of a self-adhesive vinyl is achieved by the film material and adhesive. The opacity of the film can be obtained either by adding thickness or by changing the composition of the material. A wall cover does not consist of a solid colour, it is vital to choose a thicker, opaque self-adhesive print or a film with a grey backside.

Lightboxes require a translucent white film that is applied to either a clear or translucent plastic or glass. The translucent film will help defuse the light evenly over the entire image.

Another option is a clear print which is printed on a clear medium with a transparent adhesive. Applied correctly, the final result will appear as though the window has been printed directly.

Dimensions

The size of an advertising wall decal or mural print is almost limitless. We've printed and installed films over buildings that cover thousands of square meters. These large-scale films are not printed on a single sheet as the material is no longer than 52" in width and 3 meters in length. To obtain a print that will cover a surface larger than the maximum print size, it is necessary to overlap 0.5" to 1" of the edges so the seams are covered completely during installation. This also reinforces the longevity of the product and prevents the material from peeling off. All attempts are made to ensure that panels do not interfere with crucial elements of the visual.

Weather

The resistance of the adhesive pertaining to various weather conditions depends largely on the quality of the film and the type of adhesive chosen. The film is laminated and loses its flexibility over time and gradually begins to shrink. The adhesive will also age and harden with time and remain bonded. Long-term use, the adhesive may shrink and turn brittle and may cause the film to crack or curl. Lamination of the film may also disintegrate into the adhesive.

Monomeric vinyl adhesives may be challenging when applied in colder temperatures, making the life span of the product around 2 to 3 years exterior use. Polymeric vinyl adhesives, on the other hand, are more efficient at low-temperature installation and resist UV rays with the expected longevity of 5 to 7 years. Cast vinyl adhesives can ensure outdoor conditions through long-term use, some can even last up to 10 years! Solvent-based adhesives are more durable than water-based adhesives.

The fading and colours over time depend on the durability of the ink used. We provide only the best-recommended UV inks for our printers that can last through strong UV exposures. We offer a 2 years warranty on your print against visible fading caused by sun damage. For areas with extensive sun exposures, recommend using UV laminate which optimizes the life span of your print up to 4 to 5 years. For interior application, UV rays and strong weather conditions are not any issues, however, weight and fire ratings are to be considered.

Thickness

The adhesives are generally between 0.05 mm to 0.12mm thick. Cast vinyl is made from high-performing materials, usually very thin, and can stretch into any shape. They are very durable and often referred to as 2 mm. Polymetric calendered vinyls are often less than 100 microns thick, 4 mm thick. Monomeric calendered vinyls are much thicker.

Appearance / Texture

The self-adhesive vinyl material prior to printing can have a matte, satin, or glossy finish, however, once printed, the gloss of the adhesive may change slightly depending on the amount of ink applied to the material. As a result, there can be different levels of laminate applied depending on the visual and ink coverage. Lamination after printing does not only protect the product from scuffing, damage, and UV rays, but also brings a beautiful glaze finish over your matte prints. There are three types of printed lamination; matte, gloss, and silk. The matte and gloss are our best sellers and depending on the finish chosen the laminate plays an important role in your printed project.

Matte lamination produces an elegant, sophisticated finish. It provides a softer, more natural look and makes your texts a lot more legible. Matte lamination has a "velvety" texture and makes it pleasant to handle. It also softens the contrasts between the darker colours without providing a harsh colour strike. Gloss laminate produces a shiny, glass-like varnish appearance that enhances the colour and vibrancy of the ink. It is commonly used for business applications such as marketing and promotional pieces. It also works well as a covering for bound information in the form of books, reports, and training materials.

As for appearances, there are textured films and laminates. Our granular surface, imitation wood, leather, or textiles are a few selections available. They can easily be printed with digital inkjet printing, which is a non-contact printing technique. Other laminates available include dry-erase, anti-graffiti, UV, and slip-resistant that are optically clear.

Colour

Prismaprint's self-adhesives are available in a wide range of colours. The coloured film is mainly used for digitally cut lettering. This type of application required the letters and shapes to be cut into the desired colours and then applied to a window or wall surface.

White adhesives are mainly used for printing. Non-white printing materials can be done using transparent films, frostings, or lustered materials on some applications. Digital printing ink is translucent and the background colour will show through the layer of ink. To cover the background colour, a white printed layer can be added on the surface or in certain areas prior to adding colour. This is called spot white. A transparent adhesive can be printed for window decals. Depending on whether the adhesive will be applied on the inside or outside of the glass, a white layer can be applied before or after the coloured ink (CMYK).

What Are the Finishing and Manufacturing Processes?

Several finished can be done on self-adhesive prints or pre-coloured films.

Custom Logo Wall Decals and Lettering - Cut Through or Kiss Cut

The adhesive can be cut to shape either using a digital cutting table in XY or on a cutting plotter. The cut can be done through or etched on the surface. The cut through adhesive will cut the adhesive and the liner at the same time. A perfect option for logos, letters or various shapes ready for application. The kiss cut goes through the adhesive but not through the film. It is then necessary to weed out the exterior parts of the film that are not in use in the final rednering. Several elements can be cut out and kept on the same piece of liner. The kiss cut includes the die-cut lettering or shapes delivered in sheets. A sheet made up of several independent stickers are delivered on the same liner.

Applying Tape Premask

When the self-adhesive vinyl is weeded out, you may wish to keep the layout of the different shapes that have been cut and left on the liner for additional use. In this case, a self-adhesive film called "premask" will be applied over the weeded adhesive. This film will allow all the elements left on the liner to be joined together. During the installation, the premask and the liner are separated with the weeded print and remain on the premask. Once the self-adhesive is applied to the surface the premask liner can be easily removed revealing only the lettering or shapes desired. The tape applications are often made of a translucent or transparent film in order to help with the positioning and levelling of the visual.

Lamination

The printed adhesive stickers can be protected by a laminated film. Here are some of our options:

  • UV Lamination: to extend the life of the printing up to 4 to 5 years
  • Anti-Slip Lamination: for your floor stickers or prints,
  • Matte, satin, or gloss
  • Anti-Graffiti Lamination: to protect the adhesives from marks and scratches

Dry Erase

Lamination used fort monomers, polymers, cast and different materials such as vinyl, polyolefin, polycarbonate and polyester.

Installing a Decal

Applying adhesive vinyl can be very technical and challenging for beginners. It requires good preparation of the surface area prior and great techniques and skills attained for a quality finish while avoiding creases. There are multiple techniques that can be used effectively for installation such as wet application, which uses soapy water but requires experience for larger adhesives.

As a general guideline, we recommend that you contact a professional if the desired coverage exceeds 1 square meter when additional assistance is required upon any installation. On smaller surface areas, we recommend an easy-to-apply self-adhesive. These designs allow air to flow through and provides an easier installation. Similarly, the adjustable adhesives are easy to apply on either solid surfaces or glass for window graphics. Please keep in mind that working with installation at great heights to always use the equipment accordingly and safely. Primsaprint offers installation services across Canada, please contact us for assistance for your self-adhesive vinyl projects.

Environment

Prismaprint operates under the Prismaflex Group, which is ISO 14001 certified and ecologically responsible. We strive in reducing the environmental impact of our business and products. For ecologically conscious products, consider our PVC-free options. We also advise that you gear towards mono-materials are much easier to recycle, as opposed to the Dibond (more than one material used in production). Be mindful of the dimension and size of the material and avoid oversizing. Although most plastic is recyclable, the best way to be ecologically responsible is to reduce our carbon footprint.

FAQ

Can I Make My Own Wall Decal Design?

Use our Prismaprint decals design templates online or contact us for additional help. It's a great way to get started! You can also submit your own designs by uploading them to our page.

Can I Order Decals Online?

Prismaprint makes ordering decals online easy. Browse through our selection of materials and prints for the decal best suitable for your surface.

Are All Decals Adjustable?

Not all decals are adjustable. Some of our products have aggressive adhesives and bond the material quickly. The installation procedure can be tricky and may require a wet installation.

Can Commercial Wall Decals be Installed by a Beginner?

It is highly recommended to seek professional help for your investment. Please contact us and we'll provide the help you need in installing across North America.

What Are The Different Types of Self-Adhesive (SAV)?

There’s a large variety of (SAV) stickers window films and wall murals that exist. Consider all possible combinations of base material, adhesives, opacity levels, and finishes that exist start on this page.

What Type Of Printing Is Available on Adhesives?

Our adhesive films are printed on digital printers using a 4 color CYMK process. Depending on the application we may use latex inks solvent or UV.

Which Adhesive Film Should I Use for My Printed Panel?

It all depends on the desired lifespan of your message. For a lifespan of 1 to 2 years, a classic monomer calendared vinyl adhesive will provide the best quality to price ratio and will suffice. For extended periods, we recommend using a polymer adhesive that will last up to 5 to 7 years. In this case, it is advisable to laminate the adhesive after printing to prevent the colors from aging.

Which Adhesive Film Should I Use on My Window?

There are several different options for window graphics or stickers we recommend discussing your options with us.

What Are Floor Graphics Used For?

Floor graphics are being used for a multitude of applications, such as promoting sales, providing directions, building brand awareness, and conveying new guidelines like social distancing. Additionally, floor graphics act as an easy way to communicate with in-store customers.

What Is The Maximum Size of A Wall Decal?

Rolls of self-adhesive decals come in sizes from 54" (1.4m) to 60" (1.5m). The material is trimmed down further to allow for traveling of the roll-on press and scuff marks that may occur during printing on the edges. It can however be printed in lengths of several tens of meters (yards). The strips can then be laid and joined on site. In theory, the total surface of the adhesive mural is unlimited.

How To Apply Large Vinyl Decals?

As a general guideline, we recommend that you contact a professional when the area covered is larger than 1 square meter or when additional assistance is required. On smaller areas that you would like to install yourself, we would recommend an easy application self-adhesive. These are designed to allow air to escape and make the installation easier. Similarly, adjustable adhesives are easier to apply whether it is on a solid surface or on glass for window graphics. For large format and high-rise signages, we recommend that acquire professional installation as the task may require safety measures that need to be carried out, along with the proper skills, tools, and machines to set up without fault. Prismaprint provides installation services throughout Canada, contact us for additional information.

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PRISMAFLEX CANADA INC
1645 Queensway E.
Mississauga Ontario,
L4X 3A3, Canada