Outdoor floor graphics—I call them concrete graphics—are more difficult to install in places that have a long, wet winter. That’s because you need a dry surface. The adhesive on these graphics is very aggressive and can be tricky to work with. You should assume the graphic will be placed on a dark surface (such as asphalt), so use light backgrounds to emphasize the contrast. Here are some tips on installing concrete graphics.
- Use Large Overlaps —Set up the file for a .75" overlap seam. This will make the graphic much stronger. Typical floor graphics are butt-seamed, but not concrete graphics. Of course, a graphic without seams is the best.
- Tools — You’ll need a gas-powered leaf blower. Typically the ground at the install site will have dirt, dust and sand on it, which will need to be removed. You’ll also need a large broom with soft bristles, a foam paint roller, a torch, a large squeegee and a chalk snap-line.
- Mark Off the Area — I use a chalk line for this. I snap the line three inches outside the actual area so I am not trying to install vinyl onto chalk marks.
- Clean the Area — Sweep the whole area, in both directions so as to loosen up the sand and dirt. Next use your leaf blower to blow the area free of debris. Hint: Always blow downwind.
- Protect your Seams — Always install the panels at the far end of the traffic flow. In other words, if the main flow of people is north to south, then install starting at the far south end. You want the seams overlapping so people cannot rub their feet and roll up the edge of the seam.
- Install the First Panel — Do not touch the adhesive! Touching the adhesive will cause the vinyl to fail. After the first panel is down, you must heat all edges before you proceed to the next panel. Use a helper with large panels. Allow the adhesive to wet out and bond with the concrete. Use your torch to heat the edges; with your foam roller, roll the vinyl into the textures of the concrete. You will notice a drastic difference between the heated/rolled areas and the rest.
- Install the Next Panel — The second panel is a bit difficult. I recommend you use your Zippy cutter and cut the release liner of the panel in the center. Cut out about 15" of release liner in the center, then line up the panel as best as you can. Squeegee down the center and, with help holding the panel up off the ground, squeegee down the rest of the graphics. If your seams are not lining up perfectly, use the heat to make them line up at the edges. When the second panel is down, heat all edges again and roll.
- Finish all Panels— Heat all edges. If the graphic will be up for more than a few days, you must heat and roll the entire graphic.