Why don't stickers or decals stick to ceramic-coated surfaces?
Let's talk about why stickers or decals (or badges with adhesive) don't stick to ceramic-coated surfaces.
Did you see the video about how ceramic coating works?
Ceramic coating fills in the peaks and valleys in your vehicle’s paint. Have you ever read how you should scuff up paint or other surfaces to make things stick better? When you fill in the peaks and valleys using ceramic coating, it makes it more difficult for stickers or decals to stick to the ceramic-coated surfaces.
If we think you will be using a decal (such as a track car), we will ask you to ensure we don’t coat areas that you will be 100% covered. If it isn’t obvious, please let us know if you need us to leave a spot untreated with ceramic coating.
CERAMIC-INFUSED PPF, VINYL GRAPHICS, & CERAMIC COATING
In the video about vinyl graphics, I talk about placing PPF/clear bra/paint protection film over top, under, or around graphics. One thing to note is that we use Autobahn Incognito PPF, which is highly hydrophobic, and as a result, needs to be prepared correctly if we are putting badges or graphics over top. Since we typically do not polish PPF, the way we need to prepare Incognito is we use a product called Acrysol to remove the hydrophobic properties in one area, which allows us to secure our badges after install.
The longer story about why stickers or decals don't stick to ceramic-coated surfaces:
Decals, badges, and vinyl graphics may have difficulty adhering to ceramic-coated surfaces for several reasons:
Smooth Surface: Ceramic coatings are known for providing an extremely smooth and glossy finish. While this makes them highly effective in repelling dirt and water, it can also make it challenging for adhesives to bond effectively. Adhesives typically adhere better to surfaces with some texture or roughness.
Chemical Resistance: Ceramic coatings are designed to be chemically resistant to protect the underlying surfaces from various environmental factors. This chemical resistance can also extend to adhesives, making it harder for them to create a strong bond with the ceramic-coated surface. However, we can also use a product called acrysol (that we mentioned above) to prepare the surface.
Hydrophobic Properties: Ceramic coatings often have hydrophobic properties, meaning they repel water. This can affect the ability of adhesives to wet the surface properly, which is crucial for establishing a strong bond.
Flexibility and Conformability: Vinyl graphics, decals, and badges are designed to be flexible and conform to various surfaces, but the extreme smoothness and hardness of ceramic coatings might prevent them from properly adhering and conforming.
Temperature Resistance: Ceramic coatings can withstand high temperatures, which means they might not be as conducive to the curing process of adhesives. Some adhesives require heat to set and bond properly, and the high temperatures that ceramic coatings can handle might interfere with this process.
Preparation and Cleaning: Applying decals or vinyl graphics to any surface requires thorough cleaning and preparation. Ceramic-coated surfaces might have specific cleaning and preparation requirements that need to be followed meticulously for successful adhesion. Failure to properly clean and prepare the surface can result in poor adhesion.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I CHANGE MY MIND ABOUT VINYL GRAPHICS OVER CERAMIC-COATED SURFACES?
Try to let us know in advance if you need to place graphics after the fact, such as on a track car. We can either polish that surface later for you so it will stick, use Acrysol as we mentioned, or plan around it. On the RAM TRX Tyrant below, we removed the badges knowing the client had new badges on order, and we replaced the badges for them when they came in, using Acrysol or polish.