How to Soften Vinyl

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Vinyl is a synthetic, man-made material used in a wide assortment of products, including vinyl graphics and vinyl wallpaper. Vinyl can be removed from a surface that it has been applied, but it must be softened first. You will need a power tool that can be acquired from a hardware store, as most homes will not have one on hand. The procedure to soften vinyl is straightforward, but requires protective gear to avoid any chance of being hurt.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinyl spray cleaner
  • Soft cloth
  • Heat gun
  • Extension cord
  • Heat-resistant gloves
  • Spray vinyl cleaner on the vinyl that is to be softened. Wipe the vinyl off with a soft cloth to remove loose dirt and other contaminants from the surface.

  • Plug the heat gun's power cord into a wall outlet. Use an extension cord between the power cord and the outlet if mobility is an issue.

  • Put on heat-resistant gloves. Turn the heat gun's temperature setting to "medium," or the halfway mark on the dial, depending on how the gun is made.

  • Press the trigger to start the flow of heated air from the gun's nozzle. Play the heated air from the nozzle across the length of the vinyl, starting at one side and reversing direction upon reaching the other side. Move the nozzle down the side of the vinyl as you play it across its length.

  • Press a finger of the gloved hand that is not holding the heat gun against the vinyl; if the finger indents the vinyl, it has been softened to the point where it can be removed from the surface. Continue to play the heated air from the heat gun over the vinyl to keep it softened as you remove the vinyl, using the fingers of your free hand.

  • Release the trigger when the vinyl has been removed and placed aside. Unplug the power cord from the wall outlet or from the extension cord, if one was used, and unplug the extension cord's plug from the outlet. Place the heat gun on its side on a heat-resistant surface, such as a kitchen counter top, so the nozzle can cool off. Put the heat gun away once the nozzle has cooled off.

Tips & Warnings

  • A scraper can be used to pull vinyl off a surface once it has been softened.
  • A hair dryer can be substituted for a heat gun if necessary, but will take much longer to soften the vinyl.

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