Wood Panel Graphics Installation Notes

The following are application instructions recommended by Auto Trim DESIGN for our Wood Panel Graphic kits. While pictures shown are of an installation on a Jeep Commander, application principles should apply to most of our Wood Panel Graphic kits.
These procedures must be followed prior to any consideration by Auto Trim DESIGN and/or its graphic manufacturers in regard to replacement or credit.
Failure to follow instructions listed below in bold red letters may result in product failure and be considered non-warrantable. Please note that any horizontal application of products, such as a vehicle hood or roof, is never warrantable.
Graphic Installation Instructions
Graphic Materials Information
Preparation & Cleaning Procedures
Installation Guidelines
Exterior Graphic Care


Graphic Materials Information
Storage and Rotation:
Stock rotation and climate-controlled storage are important. Age and temperature extremes degrade the adhesive and can dramatically reduce its effectiveness. Product should be used within the recommended storage life of two years. In addition, product should be stored in an environment between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature Recommendations:
Surface temperature should be between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit before attempting the installation. As a general rule, if the surface is hot to the touch it's over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Adhesive becomes brittle when it gets too cold and gummy when it gets too hot. Applications outside the recommended range of 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit reduce the adhesives' ability to perform. 
Preparation & Cleaning Procedures

****An Important Note about Cleaning. Please Read.****

Why Surface Preparation is More Important Than Ever Before!

Due to an increased usage of silicone based additives in automotive paint that traditionally contained only solvents or oil derivatives, the pressure-sensitive graphics industry is facing adhesion challenges. The result of these changes is the need for increased awareness towards surface preparation and application methods.

To reduce the amount of solvents in some of the newer "heavy solids" paint and clearcoat products, silicone-based additives are used as flow agents. As the solvents evaporate during the curing process, silicone particles migrate to the surface, leaving a silicone residue. In fiberglass manufacturing, mold release agents may also leave a silicone residue.

Traditional surface preparation for graphics application has consisted of chemical washing. Most cleaners contain a hydroxyl compound (acetone, alcohol) or a petroleum base (kerosene, zylene) solvent. These solvents work by dissolving oil-based impurities that are on the surface.

Silicone, however, does not dissolve. Removal of siliconates occurs through emulsification (suspension of small globules within the liquid, like oil in water). Soap and water will generally outperform solvent for silicone emulsification. However, an extra wash process costs applicator time and it may not always be necessary.

The application process noted herein, when followed, will effectively prepare the surface to bond with the adhesive. We recommend this process for all striping and graphics, regardless of who manufactured them. FAILURE TO FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS IN RED MAY RESULT IN ADHESION FAILURE.
Cleaning Procedures:
All surfaces are contaminated to some degree. To ensure good adhesion to any vehicle surface, it is critical that you follow these recommended procedures in decontaminating and preparing the surface prior to any vinyl product installation. A clean, lint free towel or cloth must be used between each of the cleaning steps to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Remove heavy road grime or tar using our Rapid Prep cleaning solution.
  • When a silicone substance or residue is suspected, wash and rinse the contaminated area with liquid dish detergent and warm water. Dry the surface with a clean, lint free towel or cloth.
  • After the detergent wash simply finish the process by wiping down the entire area with our Rapid Tac or Rapid Tac II application fluid. Again use a clean, lint-free towel or cloth.
Installation Guidelines
Application Procedures:
  • Because vinyl is a pressure-sensitive product, a squeegee must be used for all installations.
    - Apply graphics using a squeegee. After the application tape/premask is removed, squeegee a second time focusing mainly on the edges and tips.
    You may want to use a protective sleeve on the squeegee to avoid damage to the paint and/or vinyl surface.
  • When removing the application tape/premask, always pull it slowly, back onto itself, at a 180-degree angle.
    Bubbles should be punctured using a sharp air release tool. Do not slit the vinyl to release the air. If the vinyl is slit it will spread or gap.
  • The cutting or trimming of any stripe or graphic should be done using a very sharp knife and very little pressure. Any openings, such as doors, should be trimmed back away from edges at least 1/8 of an inch. Do not wrap the vinyl around door edges.

Need an Application Squeegee? 'Click' Here

Illustrated Installation Procedures


Step 1
Carefully remove factory emblems in the area(s) of installation. Warming the emblems with a heat gun and firmly pulling them away from the painted surface should allow the emblem's tape to remain in tact for re-installation after application of graphics.
Clean the surface with our Rapid Prep Pre-Cleaner or a few drops of grease-cutting liquid detergent in water (do not use a petroleum base cleaner). Rinse clean with fresh water then dry with a lint-free cloth. Wiping surface with our Rapid Tac, Rapid Tac II or alcohol will also help remove any contamination and enhance the adhesion process.

Step 2
Lay graphic panels flat on a dry flat surface for several hours in a warm area to let them settle out from shipping.
Carefully trim each panel of excess application paper. Due to the fact that the panels are generally hung from the top, trim closely to the top edge for ease of placement.
Also, carefully trim openings such as door handles as shown. Prior to trimming around Fuel Door areas, take care to draw alignment marks on the application paper across the opening(s) so that panels will be properly aligned during installation. An example of such alignment marks are shown in Step 9.

Step 3
Graphic panels are usually set on an apparent vehicle body line. In the case of the Jeep Commander, each panel should be set from the top body line.
Thus, for ease of installation, place a fine tape line that can be used as a guideline. This will insure that each panel horizontally lines up with the other.

Step 4
Position the panel so that it lines up with the tape guideline and there is an even margin on each side. Lightly tape the top of the panel into place.

Step 5
Once positioned and lightly taped, place tape along the complete top edge. This will hold the entire top edge of the panel in place for installation.
Step 6
Once taped (hinged) into place, lift the graphic panel, carefully peel from a corner and then expose the first 3-4" of adhesive as shown.
Folding the backing paper onto itself will assist in application.
Step 7
After backing paper is folded, firmly swing panel down and squeegee first 1" of the top of the panel from the tape down. Working from left to right, "work" squeegee so that a small portion of the graphic panel is applied with each stroke.
Step 8
Keeping the panel taught, continue squeegeeing the panel from right to left down to the bottom.

Step 9
For areas such as Fuel Doors, we suggest drawing alignment lines on the application paper prior to cutting the area out for ease of placement.
With surrounding panel installed first and application paper still on, dry fit the Fuel Door piece for placement. Once satisfied with placement, carefully peel back a small portion of the backing paper so as to expose the adhesive side.
Place Fuel Door piece back over area and firmly squeegee from the hinge side of the Fuel Door towards the fingerpull.
When you reach the fingerpull - STOP.
Step 10
Areas around Fuel Door fingerpulls are better installed without the application paper applied.
Thus, carefully peel the application paper from the hinge side of the Fuel Door and remove.
Firmly "work" the remainder of the decal over and into the fingerpull areas with your thumb. This will allow the decal to s-t-r-e-t-c-h into place and will adhere to the Fuel Door surface better.
To assist in adhesion, "warm" the fingerpull area with a heat gun so as to activate the adhesive. Take care not to burn the decal with too much heat.
To remove application tape from graphic panels, peel SLOWLY at a sharp (180) angle. If the vinyl appears to be lifting, gently push the application tape in the opposite direction from which you were pulling and re-squeegee that area. If after removing the application tape, air bubbles are apparent, puncture the vinyl with a pin or needle (DO NOT USE a knife or razor blade) and squeegee out the air towards the puncture.
Factory emblems can be re-installed after installation, if desired.
Wet Application Method: Spraying a light mist of our Rapid Tac or Rapid Tac II application solution onto your application surface will delay the adhesive activation between the bonding surface and vinyl transfer, resulting in a bubble-free, wrinkle-free application. CAUTION: Wet application may delay the immediate removal of the application tape. A waiting period of up to 30 minutes may be necessary.

Exterior Graphic Care

Today's finest pressure-sensitive vinyl materials have been used to create your new graphics. These graphics require little maintenance and should be treated similarly to a painted surface.

Do wash your graphics with plain soap and water or any commercially made car wash soap. Rinse thoroughly.

Do keep high pressure nozzles at least 18 inches from the edge of the graphics. High pressure spray may cause the edge of the graphic to peel.

Do test any cleaning solution on a small section of the decal before using. Be sure to read the solution's directions and warning notices that may apply to Vinyl Graphics.

Don't use any aromatic solvents such as acetone, M.E.K., toluene, paint thinner, or lacquer thinner on your graphics. Any solvent may soften the vinyl material or smear colors.

Don't overcoat the graphics with clear paint (voids manufacturer's warranty).

Don't let gasoline or other fuels drip or stay on graphics for any length of time. If a spill occurs, wipe off and rinse with water immediately.

Don't paint over the graphics.

Don't apply wax over graphics. Wax products generally contain petroleum distillates, which can damage vinyl graphics. The only product we suggest for use on vinyl graphics is Rod & Custom Show Gloss Creme.

Care and caution should be taken when storing your vehicle. Vinyl graphics and other items such as dashboards, tires and flexible rubber products will have a shorter life expectancy when exposed to severe heat and sunlight. Protection of graphics from prolonged direct sunlight will insure an extended life.


As always, if you have any questions feel free to e-mail us. We're here to serve. Thanks!
Need to contact us? Simply email us at customerservice@autotrimdesign.com.
Copyright 2006 [Auto Trim DESIGN]. All rights reserved.