How to Remove Vinyl Graphics

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Vinyl graphics are used in a wide range of arts and crafts applications, from creating signs on vehicles and storefronts to constructing unique works of art. Thanks to specialized printing, plotting and computer software, designers today have the ability to create unique decals and lettering exactly as they envision. Vinyl graphics do require the use of special adhesives, so the process of removing them may vary depending upon the surface, age of installation and environmental conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • Hair dryer
  • Razor blade scraper
  • Denatured alcohol or specialized vinyl adhesive remover
  • Nonabrasive cloths
  • Heat a small corner of the vinyl graphic with a hair dryer. The heating process will loosen the adhesive underneath the vinyl, which in turn aids the removal process. Continue heating the corner until a visual separation of the vinyl and surface appears.

  • Separate the heated corner of the vinyl graphic with your fingernail when dealing with painted surfaces. Separate the heated corner using a razor blade scraper when removing window glass decals.

  • Continue to heat the vinyl with the hair dryer while carefully peeling the vinyl from the surface with your fingers. Peel off the vinyl in a slow manner to lessen the chance of breaking the decal during the removal process.

  • Remove any residual adhesive from the surface with clean nonabrasive cloths and liberal amounts of denatured alcohol to finish the process. You may also use a specialized vinyl adhesive removal product to clean off the residual glue; read the manufacturer's instructions and make sure that the removal product is compatible with the surface before use.

Tips & Warnings

  • If separation of the vinyl and surface does not occur during the heating process, scrape at the vinyl with a razor. This works particularly well on glass surfaces. But be aware that this will likely destroy the vinyl.
  • Sometimes, a hair dryer will not get the vinyl hot enough to separate it from the surface. Instead, try using a heat gun. These have a higher heat threshold and work better on painted metal surfaces with vinyl that just doesn't want to come off.
  • If all else fails, apply a citrus-based "goo remover" to the vinyl and let it sit for ten minutes or so. This should sufficiently soften the vinyl so it cam be scraped off with a plastic scraper or credit card.

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