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Protecting Your Decals from the Elements

When purchasing a decal, you want one that won’t yellow or fade quickly–you want one that will last. Even though there are different grades of vinyl (e.g. five-, seven- and 10-year), images ...
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Protecting Your Decals from the Elements

When purchasing a decal, you want one that won’t yellow or fade quickly–you want one that will last. Even though there are different grades of vinyl (e.g. five-, seven- and 10-year), images will grow faint over time when placed outside. The harsher the environment, the more protection is needed to ensure the decal looks good throughout its entire lifespan.

There are a multitude of options for protection, including lamination, clearcoats, and polyurethane doming. Follow this handy checklist to see the benefits of each option to help you determine what will work best for your project.

LAMINATION OPTIONS

Vinyl Lamination

  • Is used with vinyl decals that may shrink (it will shrink at the same rate)

  • Lasts up to four years longer than unprotected graphics

  • Can stretch around complex curves, such as vehicle graphics

  • Is breathable, which  allows solvent ink to outgas through the lamination

  • Is available in many different finishes, including gloss, which is see-through and easy to clean

Polyester Lamination

  • Has good chemical resistance, which makes it withstand harsh cleaners

  • Has minimal UV resistance

  • Does not shrink or allow solvent ink outgassing, which can cause problems when used with vinyl substrates, especially solvent-printed vinyl, but proper outgassing should prevent bonding issues

  • Does not stretch, which means it is more rigid than vinyl, especially in thicker versions, and is recommended for flat applications or slight, non-compound curves

  • Is available in many different finishes, including gloss, which is see-through and easy to clean

Polycarb Lamination

  • Has good abrasion resistance, which is useful because decals are likely to get scuffed or scratched

  • Has minimal UV resistance and fair chemical resistance

  • Reduces glare better than glossy laminations, but is less see-through, which may affect color

  • Is thicker and more rigid than vinyl and polyester

Anti-Graffiti Lamination

  • Has good chemical resistance

  • Protects against graffiti and stains such as paint and permanent marker

  • Offers good UV-, temperature-, humidity-, and salt-spray resistance

  • Has minimal abrasion resistance

Heavy Duty Lamination

  • Is very thick, usually 12 millimeters, which can make it difficult to apply onto curved surfaces

  • Has the best abrasion resistance, protecting against heavy wear; is often used on ATV/UTV, motocross bikes or snowmobiles

  • Is normally available in gloss only, keeping the thick laminate see-through

  • Offers fair UV and chemical resistance

CLEARCOAT

  • Is UV-cured, which is a cheaper option with higher quantities of parts

  • Helps resist ink fading for 3 1/2 to eight years, depending on the ink type used

  • Is thin and flexible, which prevents added stiffness on the part

  • Can provide some chemical resistance

  • May have a longer lead time than lamination due to the screen printing process 

DOMING

  • Uses flexible, clear polyurethane resin

  • Adds 3-D visual interest and a unique tactile feel

  • Offers the best overall chemical, germ, and UV resistances, lasting 10+ years

  • Is not available for all designs

  • Is the most costly way to protect decals

  • May have a longer lead time than lamination

DECAL PROTECTION COMPARISON 

 

Vinyl
Lamination

Polyester
Lamination

Polycarb
Lamination

Anti-Graffiti
Lamination

Heavy Duty
Lamination

UV
Clearcoat

Polyurethane
Doming

Flexibility

X

   

X

 

X

X

See-through options

X

X

 

X

X

X

X

Small Quantity Availability

X

X

X

X

X

   

Ideal UV Resistance

X

   

X

 

X

X

Ideal Chemical
Resistance

 

X

 

X

   

X

Ideal Abrasion
Resistance

   

X

 

X

 

X

Longer Lead Time
to Produce

         

X

X



Still have questions about which decal protection is best for you? Get in touch with us at 260-748-0577 or sales@gographicsoutput.com, and we’ll help you find the best coating for your needs.

 

Shawn Van Pelt
Shawn Van Pelt
Shawn Van Pelt is an accomplished industrial graphic sales engineer with over three decades of material and production experience. He strives to be a great partner to his clients and bring practical solutions to their graphic needs by combining his problem-solving skills, extensive industry background, and knowledge of the customers' needs. In addition, he's friendly, outgoing and very helpful.