As paints low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) become increasingly popular, installers are discovering that graphic films are not adhering to walls as reliably as they have done in the past—a challenging and potentially costly problem. While some might assume that the adhesives in graphic films have changed, it is actually the new and changing low-VOC paint formulations protected by trade secrets that are causing the issue. To help graphics manufacturers and installers address this problem and ensure reliable results with its graphic films, 3M has developed the new 3M Enhanced Adhesion Cleaning Method, a wall preparation procedure that it is strongly recommending users adopt.
By using the new 3M Enhanced Adhesion Cleaning Method and testing the film's adhesion to the walls, graphic manufacturers and installers can quickly, easily and successfully adhere almost any 3M wall film to nearly any paint. It is simple - first clean an area of the wall with a mixture of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and 30 percent water. After using this solution to clean the area TWICE, apply strips of the film to the cleaned areas on each wall where the graphics will be installed and observe their release characteristics after 15 minutes. Once the film adhesion is confirmed to be satisfactory, the same cleaning method should be used to prepare the entire installation area. Research at 3M has shown that following this cleaning protocol can significantly boost adhesion for nearly any wall film applied to a painted substrate. 3M recommends establishing this cleaning method as a best practice for every film adhesion test as well as every actual film installation.
The new 3M Enhanced Adhesion Cleaning Method is outlined in detail at 3mgraphics.com/lowVOC, where visitors can read and download step-by-step instructions. Graphic manufacturers and installers can also visit the site to download an updated Instruction Bulletin 5.37 - A Guide to Understanding and Applying Graphics to Common Smooth and Textured Wall Surfaces which gives a more thorough overview of wall film test procedures and graphic installation.
“Low-VOC paints are affecting the performance of films from all manufacturers,” said Joe Walton, 3M advanced technical service engineer. “At 3M, it’s important to us that we act fast to help installers learn how to adapt their techniques. These simple new recommendations can help prevent costly failures, making them well worth the small time investment to implement.”