Vinyl removal is a service that is rarely advertised. That is because most companies, including Black Parrot, do not enjoy most removals. Removal is done only because it is a necessary part of re-wrapping a vehicle. When asked, many companies bid removal jobs by the hour. This type of open-ended contract is something customers dislike but it is almost a necessity for the sign company because of the unknowns that greatly impact the job.
For removals of wraps that are just one or two years old, the removal is fairly predictable and should not be a large project. The issue is when a company is asked to remove older vehicle wraps. We have had removal/clean-ups that have taken just a couple of man-hours and we have had others that have taken over 30 man-hours. Wrap removal is impacted by the age of the vinyl, the amount of time in the sun, how well the vinyl had been cared for, the quality of the original wrap materials, and the quality of the installation – specifically how much primer was used to reinforce the vinyl’s adhesive.
There are two quick ways to try and gauge difficulty. The first is just a visual inspection – if you see that the vinyl is cracked and the graphic is worn, there is a probability that the removal is going to be difficult and slow. The second way is simply to find an inconspicuous spot and see if you can peel the vinyl back without it breaking off. If it comes off in “chips” it is another sign of a labor-intensive wrap removal.
Once the job is accepted, the crew will start on a corner of the vinyl. They will likely use a plastic razor blade or plastic scraper to raise the corner without scratching any paint. Once the corner is raised, they grab the vinyl and start to peel – usually with some heat. The heat softens the vinyl and allows it to do a better job of holding together. It also softens the adhesive which allows the vinyl to peel off with less force. Less “chips” means a faster, cleaner removal.
If care and heat do not allow for larger strips of the vinyl, then plastic scrapers, adhesive loosening chemicals and in some cases rubber grinding wheels need to be utilized to slowly remove the challenging areas chip-by-chip. It is a messy, time-consuming, muscle-aching job followed by a lot of adhesive cleanup. The more difficult the removal, the more careful the crew has to be to avoid paint damage. Even with the utmost care, some paint damage can occur especially to non-stock paint or areas of past body repairs.
The good news is that if you take care of your wrap and change it out in a reasonable amount of time, you should avoid an expensive removal… but, if your wrap is older and worn, you should try to find a sign company with a stellar reputation and work with them to properly estimate the project scope.
An open-ended contract with a cap may be an acceptable method for both the customer and the company but do your homework, select a sign company with a great reputation and monitor your project as it gets underway.