Graphics Troubleshooting

Yesterday I received an email with a couple of pictures of applied vinyl graphics with what looked like bubbles underneath the film. See the photo below. The message that accompanied the pictures read: “Could you please take a look at the enclosed pictures and help us with your assessment.”


In troubleshooting problems long distance, pictures are invaluable. And although I realize that a picture is worth a thousand words, I still need a little more information in order to determine the cause of the problem. As self-help guru Anthony Robbins says “if you want better answers, ask better questions”. In troubleshooting a graphics problem, some of the general questions that I would ask are listed below. The types of questions that you should ask, of course, will depend on the nature of the problem.


  • What is the substrate? If you don’t have a picture, was the surface smooth, riveted, corrugated or textured? What was the condition of the substrate? Was there any damage to the surface? If it was an old surface, indicate whether the paint was chalked, pitted, peeling, etc. What was the substrate’s paint history?  When was it painted? Who is the paint manufacturer, and what the product series was used?


  • How was the surface cleaned prior to the application?


  • What was the surface temperature of the substrate at the time of application?


  • What was the lot number of vinyl used?


  • If the graphic was printed, what inks, clear coats or overlaminates were used?


  • How were the graphics installed?  What was the installer’s level of experience? What tools did the installers use? Were the graphics installed wet or dry? If it was a wet application, what type of application fluid was used? Were the graphics edge-sealed? What type of edge sealer was used?


  • Provide information about cleaning and environmental conditions. Following the installation, what was the method used in cleaning the graphics?  How frequently were the graphics cleaned? What types of chemicals were used? Were the graphics cleaned using a high-pressure sprayer? Were the graphics subjected to chemical spillage? If they were, find out what kind of chemicals.

Squeegee Technique. Nothing is more basic in vinyl application than the squeegee. But some squeegees work better than others. And there are right ways and wrong ways to use this simple tool. This video clip reviews squeegee selection, squeegee care and squeegee technique. Click here to view the Squeegee Technique video.

Wet Applications. Dry applications are typically recommended for most vinyl applications. For those exceptions to the rule, this instructional video explains the right way to perform a wet application. Click here to view the Wet Applications video.

Introducing AT65. Installing multiple color overlays with a paper application tape is not much easier than driving in the dark without your headlights. For these challenging applications, RTape developed its AT65, the universal high tack film. This video clip explains the features and benefits of this remarkable new film application tape. Click here to view the Introducing AT65 video.

Application of Window Graphics. Installing vinyl graphics on glass can be challenging, because the adhesive aggressively grabs onto this high energy surface. Repositioning graphics on window is generally difficult, if not impossible. This instructional video explains how to dry apply window graphics right the first time. It also describes the necessary steps required for surface preparation. Click here to view the Application of Window Graphics video.

Transferring Frosted Window Graphics Films.  Because frosted window films are highly textured, transferring cut vinyl graphics can be problematic. This video provides direction in selection of the right application tape and how to apply these films quickly, easily and without problems. Click here to view the Transferring Frosted Window Graphics Films video.