Common sense and online literature will tell you, freezing temperatures, snow, ice and adhesive don’t mix; however, did you know that a build up of ice or snow on your decals or graphics can actually make them brittle or delaminate from sublayers and substrates?
In Southern Oregon, we received a total of about 8.5″s of snowfall over the last 10 days or so. I haven’t driven my BMW this year at all, so the snow built up and I left it (don’t wanna scratch the paint). After the snow subsided, we had low temps in the teens and highs below freezing…all the snow turned to ice essentially. When the time came and the kids returned to school, I finally had to drive my car. I have window graphics, always have, so I know to be careful with ice scrapers around my decals or stickers. I only scraped the areas that absolutely needed it and used the brush to remove larger areas of snow. My wipers removed areas of the decals on my windshield while a large piece of snow that I left on the rear window/upper trunk, slid off my car, uprooting parts of my rear window decal. The adhesive is no more.
This particular vinyl decal was layered, Oracal on 3M, red over black chrome. Now, the red is a calendared vinyl while the black chrome is a breed of it’s own. Black chrome is a metallic sublayer coated with a tinted overlaminate that gives it it’s finished appearance. I believe, the red calendared removed the overlaminate from the bottom layer, leaving the chrome base slightly intact.
I could have prevented my decals from being damaged by being proactive and covering them before the storm, or tending to the build up now and again…not allowing the snow and ice to sit and destroy the protective and adhesive properties (there is a lot of science to vinyl, we’re not just a bunch of kids putting stickers on everything). If the ice and snow hadn’t damaged the vinyl, a warm sunny day may have allowed the properties of the vinyl to restructure and perhaps be okay; however, this would require some testing on my part to see if the damage is done and whether it can be undone.
Be proactive, protect your vinyl!