VINYL CAR GRAPHICS INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS
On this page we have instructions for installing CWS Studios full wraps and stripes and decals.
General Vinyl Install Instructions
Please read these instructions carefully regardless of what kit you ordered. All CWS Studios stripe kits offered online are good for DIY projects. You can of course hire a pro to install them if you wish.
If you take your time, read the instructions carefully and have a little patience, you can get pro results with our stripe kits. Many of the smaller kits are easy enough to install by yourself. In some cases, specially with the larger kits, it would be advisable to have a friend to help.
CWS Studios stripe kits, accent kits and racing numbers come in mainly two types: Wet install and dry install.
Wet install kits use water or a solution of water and soap for two purposes. First, the solution prevents the decal from sticking right away, so you can reposition it into place. Secondly, you avoid air bubbles by using a squeegee to push out the solution from between the decal and the surface of the car.
Dry install kits are usually not installed using water. These decals are made using air-release wrap vinyl. Air-release wrap vinyl lets air escape right through the vinyl itself to avoid air bubbles. Dry install kits cannot be slid into place, but they do have less tack. For this reason, you can position them into place and then you squeegee them when you’re sure they are positioned correctly. The only kits we offer in air-release vinyl are the digitally-printed ones and the racing number decals. Keep in mind that air-release vinyl can also be installed wet – it just needs a bit more drying time allowed. It will also be easier to install wet. So, if in any doubt at all, install wet.
Layered color stripes note: Many CWS Studios stripe kits are offered in dual color. On these kits there is usually a bottom layer color with a second color that goes on top. In most cases, the top layer is the main color as it covers most of the bottom layer. It is important to note that the top layer in these kits with come with a transparent mask. This is so that you can easily see the layer below and be able to align it correctly.
These are the tools you will need for most of the vinyl decal and stripe kit installations. The only variation would be the dry installation kits which don’t need the spray water and soap solution. Everything else you will need for all installs.
Utility Knife/Razor Blade
Tape measure / Ruler
Spray bottle full of water*.
* Optional (but recommended): For a less aggressive initial tack, but longer drying time, you can add 1 drop of liquid dish soap to your spray bottle. We use baby shampoo for our installs. If you use baby shampoo, use 3 drops in the water bottle. Shake before using.
Side Stripe and Top Stripes Wet Application Instructions:
The process for installing side stripes is generally the same as for the top stripes. Almost all of our stripe kits are designed for wet installation. There are some exceptions, namely the digitally printed ones, as they are printed on air-release vinyl that can be applied dry. That said, it can still be applied wet, which would make it easier anyway. It just needs additional dry time.
As with most DIY projects, success is based on taking your time and being very patient. With the wet applications, if in doubt, spray more liquid solution.
Step 1: Clean the vehicle surface thoroughly. Pay special attention to edges, and cracks that may be hiding dust or grime
Step 2: Test fit by holding your vinyl in place with masking tape. Mark position with tape, or tape in place along top edge, allowing you to peel the backing paper. Make sure the decal is not backwards. Right side decals will only fit well on the right side of the car and vice-versa for the left side
Step 3: Wet vehicle surface with water solution (See general instructions above). Try to avoid getting the backing paper wet. It would cause it to break down and make it harder to remove
Step 4: Peel backing paper and generously spray adhesive side of vinyl with water solution
Step 5: Step 5: Make sure positioning is correct. (water allows you to temporarily slide the vinyl around the surface). Once you’re happy with the position, move to the next step
Step 6: If working with solid stripes, or unmasked vinyl, spray top of vinyl before you squeegee to avoid scratches. If in doubt, spray more. It’s good to work with lots of solution, even on your hands
Step 7: Firmly squeegee vinyl in place, working from center out. If the vinyl moves at all while trying to squeegee, spray more solution and carefully reposition. Be careful not to stretch the vinyl too much as it might deform
Step 8: Spray masking / transfer tape to loosen and let sit for 5 minutes. This allows it to loosen enough and also give the vinyl time to stick better to the car’s surface
Step 9: Carefully peel back masking / transfer tape, keeping it flat with the surface so you don’t peel up the fresh vinyl. If some of the vinyl peels off you can add solution and slip back into place and squeegee again
Step 10: Trim extra overlap along edges with razor blade if needed. In more cases you won’t need to trim, though some kits require it. Just be careful not to scratch the paint when trimming. Most bubbles will squeegee out. However, some remaining bubbles can be carefully popped with a needle or corner of your razor blade before pressing down on it again
Step 11: Park in the sun to help the stripes dry quicker. The hot sun will also help get rid of some bubbles. Allow a few days with the car in a sun before attempting to wash the vehicle. During this time, be gentle when you wipe down the car or the graphics to avoid damaging them. After a few days you can begin to handle the car as you normally would.