The answer is—it’s not recommended. Attempting to install vinyl graphics in the cold temperatures can lead to several problems.

For installation‚ the ultimate temperature-controlled environment is 70° F (21° C) with 50 percent humidity. For best results with films recommended for vehicle wrapping‚ always apply when the air and vehicle surface are both above 60° F (16° C).-3M Graphic Solutions

Why Installation in the Cold doesn’t work  

  • Higher temperatures are needed to stretch vinyl around curves. In cold conditions, they may not properly stretch or conform and may even tear.
  • The adhesive may not form a solid bond in the cold causing eventual separation.
  • Condensation, during installation, may interfere with proper application especially if the substrate remains damp.
  • The film loses elasticity becoming stiff, difficult to work with, or apply evenly.

How to install Vinyl Graphics When it’s Cold

Vehicles must be brought inside to warm. This could take up to 48 hours, so plan and prepare ahead. The substrate surface, and ambient temperature should be at least 60 F. Using torches and heaters to warm the surface and material may be used…very carefully. Putting a propane torch to a cold substrate can cause damage. For example, years ago we attempted to warm a retail store’s front window with a torch. It was 40 + degrees and although the installer gently waved the flame across the glass…it shattered. What started as a small spider crack eventually spread across the entire window and burst. We would’ve been better advised to wait until spring.

We’re just Warming up

Warming surfaces before attempting to apply adhesive vinyl graphics in cold climates is critical. Trying to apply adhesive vinyl graphics to a cold substrate will lead to problems. If you’d like to learn more let us know. We’d be happy to share. Cold installation is a hot topic.