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Removing Floor Graphics

Now that you’ve mastered installing floor graphics, what are you going to do when its’ time to remove them? Find out!

By Jennifer LeClaire

If preparing the surface is straightforward, and installing floor graphics is fairly simple in most cases, maintaining and removing the graphics could be your X factor.

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  • There is no doubt that floor graphics represent a bona fide opportunity for signmakers. It’s not rocket science, it compliments your other vinyl applications, and it’s fairly lucrative.

    But before you rush into the market, there are two more things you need to know: how to maintain and remove the graphics. If preparing the surface is straightforward, and installing floor graphics is fairly simple in most cases, maintaining and removing the graphics could be your X factor.

    Here’s the deal…before you ever leave the job you need to make double dog sure that your client understands how to maintain the graphics. And, if you are fortunate enough to get a client who changes floor graphics based on ever-changing promotions ­ or if you mess up your original installation and have to redo the work ­ then you need to know how to remove the graphic quickly and effectively. Read on to get both sides of the story.

    Floor Graphics Maintenance
    Most quality floor graphics systems can be cleaned. Avery’s Floor Marking System, for example, is designed to withstand daily cleaning with mild soapy water. It may surprise you to learn that your client can also use commercial buffers ­ with a caveat. Avery recommends manually applying four to five coats of floor polish to the graphic before using a buffer on it.

    Be sure to warn your clients not to clean the graphic within the first 24 hours, though, or it could cause it to peel off the floor. However, after the initial treatment of the graphic, they can treat it as part of the floor.

    If you want your clients to get optimum performance from their shiny new floor graphics, tell them not to let water dwell around the image or expose the image to oils and solvents for long period of time. They’ll also be glad to know that scuffmarks that make their way onto the graphic can be removed using soap and water, citrus cleansers and, as a last resort, a scratch-free cleaning pad.

    It behooves the signmaker to generate a printed checklist for clients that tell them in no uncertain terms how to maintain the graphic. This will help to avoid unnecessary complaints about the life or appearance of the graphic. Remember, your reputation is on the line. Helping your customers understand how best to preserve the life of the floor graphic is in your best interest.

    Removing Floor Graphics
    There comes a day in every floor graphic’s life when it’s time to remove it. Avery offers some strategic direction in this effort: When you remove the graphic, start at one of the corners and gently pull the graphic toward you at a 90-degree angle. It may be necessary to use a putty knife to start the removal process.

    The graphic should remove cleanly. If there is some adhesive residue on the edge of the graphic, the adhesive can be removed by gently scraping with the putty knife or using a citrus cleaner. You may also see dirty contour edges after you remove the graphic; however, normal cleaning of the floor should take care of that.

    Here’s an interesting tidbit: Depending on where the graphic was placed, the area under the graphic may appear darker or discolored compared to the surrounding area. That’s because the vinyl offers some UV protection to the floor underneath. When you pull up the graphic, you’ll see the proof of it on the surrounding floor.

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    When Picking and Flicking is Not So Easy
    Of course, it’s not always so easy to remove floor graphics, according to Troy Downey owner APE Wraps, a digital graphics and wraps company in San Diego, California. Sometimes you need to get on your knees with a heat source and start picking.

    “As far as removal, you are going to want to have a torch or a heat gun,” he explains. “I would recommend a torch because there is probably a lot more surface area being covered. The idea is to soften the material so it is pliable and easier to remove.”

    The ease or difficulty you have removing the graphic will depend on what kind of vinyl you used: material with short-term or long-term adhesion. There is a time and a place to use a clean removable style adhesive with your floor laminate on the graphic: short-term use. That’s the best recommendation for trade shows and other quick promotions.

    “You have to know in your heart that you can get that vinyl back up when the promotion is over,” Downey says. “If it’s a painted floor, or even if it is just a concrete floor in a big convention center, the graphic may only need to last three days. I don’t want an army of my guys out there picking and flicking to get the graphic up. So we may not want to use permanent adhesive.”

    Pricing: The Final Frontier
    Floor graphics are far less expensive than billboards, television ads and many other forms of advertising, but that doesn’t mean it is Scott free. In fact, Downey says some clients may think floor graphics are expensive. It’s true that the laminate that needs to cover the floor graphics does ad to the expense and the installation can drive up the cost.

    Downey suggests pricing out the job in a similar way as you would a vehicle graphic, with consideration for materials and labor. But, he says, take the volume into consideration while also understanding that removing the floor graphic will be part of the end-to-end solution.

    “Many clients may say that they only want to spend $500 on floor graphics for 20 or 30 booths. That’s not going to get them very far,” Downey says. “That carpet in the Las Vegas Convention Center will cost them about $1,500. But wrapping the floor really sets them apart from the pack.”

    At the end of the day, you can use the same metrics to price your floor graphic installations as you do other installations. The difference is the time it takes to do the job and the material costs. While floor graphics are not yet mainstream, getting in on the trend before the masses will leave you well prepared to compete for business in the future.

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