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Hibikit Application

How to Apply Vinyl Labels with Permanent Adhesive (wet method)

Successful application of vinyl labels, decals or lettering to vehicles, metal surfaces and other vinyl surfaces starts with proper surface preparation and planning. Even small dirt particles will appear as imperfections in the vinyl, so thorough cleaning is an absolute necessity. If applying vinyl over seams and rivets, they may at first seem problematic. But a few easy tricks can make easy work out of these and other surface obstacles. Vinyl contains an aggressive, waterproof adhesive that becomes stronger with time, but even the best adhesives are no match for fuel, oil and other chemical residues on the application surface.

Items you may need


• Car wash detergent/Washing up liquid

• Water

• Bucket/container

• Sponge

• Hose or water source

• Cotton towels

• Measuring tape/ruler

• Grease pencil/ non-permanent marker

• Vinyl label

• Masking tape

• Vinyl application fluid (soapy water)

• Squeegee

• Pin or razor knife

• Heat gun or hair dryer

Cleaning the Surface

Ensure the surface that the label is to be applied to is clean and free from grease.

Inspect the surface for cleanliness, making note of imperfections or surface obstacles which you may have to address.

Measure and Apply

positioning label

Measure the vinyl label and application area to ensure proper fit and orientation. Perform a "dry fit" by placing the label into position, and marking the corner and edge locations on the metal surface with a grease pencil. Trim the labels if necessary, rather than overlap.

Tape a strip of masking tape along the top edge of the label, forming a hinge. The label should be free to swing up and down, while being firmly held in place by the tape hinge.

Swing the label up, securing with a small piece of masking tape, and spray the application area with a light coat of vinyl application fluid (soapy water). The spray helps eliminate air bubbles and further strengthens the adhesive as it evaporates. The spray of soapy water will also allow slight repositioning of the label if necessary.

Peel the backing liner from the label, while holding it in an upright position on the hinge, and let it hang in a "U" shape, while one hand is holding the free edge.

Smooth the label onto the surface with a squeegee, working from the top hinge edge down. One hand will operate the squeegee, while the other maintains the "U" shape. Squeegee pressure should be firm, and be certain to burnish all areas of the label as you work toward the bottom.

Wipe the label and surrounding areas with a cotton towel to remove excess soapy water.

Force out air bubbles to the label sides with the squeegee. Stubborn bubbles can be pierced with a common pin or razor knife, and burnished with the squeegee.

Form label around rivets or into seams (if present) by applying heat from a hair dryer, and burnishing the area with a sign maker's rivet brush. Piercing the surrounding rivet "dome" will assist in air bubble release from these areas.

Burnish entire label once more with the squeegee to ensure adhesion. Some installers perform another burnishing after 12 hours or so, or when application fluid has evaporated.


• Small labels, decals, and number and letter stickers can be applied in a similar manner but typically may not require application fluid.

• A commercial application fluid is available and is superior to homemade concoctions of soap and water (and is quite inexpensive).

• Installing when surface and ambient temperatures are above 80 or below 50 degrees Fahrenheit should be avoided if possible.

• Apply any necessary heat in short bursts, at a distance of 10 inches or more, to prevent melting of vinyl.

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