Pinstriping Installation Instructions

How to Apply Pinstripe:

Once you choose your colors and specific sizes of pinstriping vinyl, the next step is prepping the vehicle and applying the vinyl.  The process of applying the automotive pinstripe vinyl requires several steps:

  1. Take care to ensure the surface temperature of the vehicle does not exceed 75° Fahrenheit (23° Celsius). Many pinstriping manufacturers suggest applying the vinyl tape indoors or in a shaded area  out of the sun, where excessive heat is not an issue.The vinyl tends to stretch very easily in the sun and makes installation very difficult and with poor results.
  2. Ensure the surface is extremely clean. Vehicles are magnets for dirt and dust, so you need to wipe the surface with a damp cloth or soft sponge, using a window cleaner, a 50/50 mixture of water and rubbing alcohol, or a combination of gentle dish detergent and water, to ensure the pinstripe tape will adhere properly. Completely dry the area with a soft chamois cloth or a micro-fiber, lint-free towel.
  3. Decide how much of the vinyl to apply, peel the backing paper off about 4 to 5 inches from the roll and align and gently tack it down in the starting location where you want the stripe to begin. We find it a bit easier to start in the rear of the vehicle and work your way towards the front. Once you have the vinyl in position, peel back as much of the backing paper you are comfortable with laying down and pull the vinyl tight, but not too tight as to stretch the vinyl. Now line it up and gently tack it down into position again. You can work this step in intervals working down the whole vehicle or go what we call "go cowboy" and work the whole side at once, whatever you are comfortable with.. A good Tip: If you don't feel super confident lining up the stripes you can run a piece of narrow masking tape along the line you want to hit first. You should be able to run your stripe along the edge of the masking tape to insure you have a good line.
  4. The next step is to go over the vinyl pinstripe  with your thumb to make certain it’s sticking properly. If there are areas that need to be re-done due to error in placement, this can be done by simply lifting the tape gently, and reapplying.
  5. Lifting the clear overlay of the vinyl is the next step, and should be done only when you are satisfied with the line of the application.
  6. Then, if there are areas of the vinyl that need to be trimmed, you can use a straight-edge razor, Exacto knife, or Olfa Knife (recommended and available here)  to gently slice the tape in all pertinent areas such as around the doors or panels. This slicing action needs to be very light and with very, very little pressure, so the vehicle’s paint or clear coat isn't cut through, causing the panel to rust. At this point, if there are other colors of vinyl to be applied, this is the time to apply them. Alternatively, if you want to embark on any type of pinstriping design such as making some fancy ends, this is also the optimal time.
  7. If you notice any air bubbles, manufacturers suggest puncturing them with a straight pin or a safety pin, as opposed to slicing the pinstripe vinyl to release air. Doing the latter may make the tape spread or gap. One easy way to remove bubbles is to gently and slowly pull the stripe back and re-lay it and smooth it out, a "do over" button if you will.
  8. To apply the pre-finished ends and emblems, align them in the desired location and trim the vinyl stripe away on each side of the emblem. We recommend placing the logos centered over or under the door handle (depending on where your stripe is located). You can use a small piece of masking tape or just hold it there with your finger. It's a good idea to cut the stripe 1/6" of more from the edge of the emblems, but be consistent and cut both sides of the vehicle the same.
  9. After stepping back to check the application, top tape manufacturers suggest allow at least 24 hours before washing or waxing the vehicle to allow time for the adhesive to seal itself to the paint or clear coat.