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  • Preparing aluminium for wrapping

    Posted by Simon Worrall on March 29, 2024 at 7:07 pm

    Happy easter!

    I think I have just created a whole heap of problems for myself!

    I have a horse float to fully wrap, made partly of aluminium.

    Normally these get powder coated, but the bloke making them asked me if he really needed to do this as It is getting wrapped. Without thinking, I saw his point and said we could wrap directly over aluminium.

    I have been on Google, and found that aluminium oxydises and vinyl doesnt stick well to oxydised aluminium, so now I have to prep the thing before wrapping it!

    Ive been looking it up, and there seem to be a whole lot of ways to do this.

    Has anybody had experience of wrapping bare aluminium, if so how did you prep it, and have there been any failures since?

    Does the use of primer 94 help in any way?



    RobertLambie replied 2 months, 1 week ago 3 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • RobertLambie

    March 30, 2024 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Simon

    This is hard to advise when I can’t physically see the extent of the oxidisation or touch, or feel the surface.

    There are ways to clean the aluminium:-
    * Soap and Water with a soft abrasive sponge (see picture)
    * Aluminium cleaner (wear gloves)
    * Whatever you use, rinse properly.
    * Lastly, clean with isopropanol before applying the vinyl.

    3M primer:
    Primer will increase the bond but can leave staining or adhesive once the material is removed.

    Additionally, you could use a digital vinyl with a low-energy surface adhesive. These typically have a high initial grip on the surface. so only use it if you are comfortable with vinyl that “sticks like shit to a blanket” 😃

    I am guessing that the wrap will be a long-term thing and this is your concern over it lasting the test of time??
    or, is this a short-term, event-type thing? If it is short term, then… sponge or microfiber cloth with soap and water, clean with isopropyl and install.

    I think the only time I have come up against this same problem, was around 10 years ago.
    We were doing lots of work for a large company and they asked us to renew an existing sign but keep the aluminium frame (it was a decorative, mill finish, trim) anyway, once we said yes… then we got told they wanted the frame coloured navy blue, the same as their sign face. 🙄
    Long story short, I did what I have listed above. Soap and water, aluminium cleaner, rinse and then wrapped-it using Oracal 751 Cast.

  • Simon Worrall

    March 30, 2024 at 7:51 pm

    Hi thanks Rob.

    This is a long term wrap, which will be out in the elements for its entire life.
    It is newly built, and most of the panels still have the plastic protection of brand new aluminium sheets, so the oxydation is not noticeable. But apparently it is always there on aluminium, and it is an issue.

    I went in and did a few panels yesterday, I used steel wool dunked in wax and grease remover, wiped it off with a dry cloth, and followed by a liberal cleaning with plenty of iso, and then I went round the edges with 3M primer 94.

    The wrap is avery supreme.
    It seemed to stick very well indeed, and doesnt look like its going anywhere fast, but who knows? Time will tell I spose. I think Ive done my best.

    Aluminium cleaner? Have to look that one up.

  • Pane Talev

    April 1, 2024 at 7:18 am

    I have aluminium boat with cut vinyl applied on all sides.

    Looking ok after many years.

    No sealing. No special treatment.

    I can see the argument for low energy vinyl, and if trailer is box/ flat, you can use that.

    But personally, I think you will be ok with what you are doing now.

    • Simon Worrall

      April 1, 2024 at 8:07 am

      i hope so Pane. Too late to go back now!

  • RobertLambie

    April 2, 2024 at 11:24 pm

    Was the aluminium all curved and recessed?
    just asking because the supreme is probably overkill if just flat, mate.

    It is newly built, and most of the panels still have the plastic protection of brand new aluminium sheets.

    My understanding is that as long as the aluminium doesn’t already have oxidisation on the surface and as you said, it is new, and has the sheet protective PVC coating on it. Then, after removing the protective sheet, a good clean with isopropanol to clean it of any contaminants with a soft abrasive sponge and microfibre cloth. Dry-fitted vinyl. It should seal the material and prevent oxidisation. I imagine as long as the parameter of the material is applied with firm squeegee pressure and some heat to promote adhesion, I can’t see there being a problem.
    You have used a 3M primer around the edges, which will again, promote adhesion and seal it.
    At the end of the day, you are looking to prevent air and moisture from affecting the surface and vinyl will do that.


    Hi Pane… Thanks for the feedback.
    I am assuming your boat has a raw/mill aluminium finish to it.
    Do these types of boats have some sort of clear coat on the surface of it?

    • Pane Talev

      April 3, 2024 at 11:13 am

      I am assuming your boat has a raw/mill aluminium finish to it.
      Do these types of boats have some sort of clear coat on the surface of it?

      Surface is smooth.

      I have applied my own vinyl to my boat too.

      I do not know if the boats have a clear coat on the surface.

  • RobertLambie

    April 4, 2024 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for the update, Pane.

    I might be wrong, but I would guess there must be some sort of clear coat on the boat.
    I did a quick Google and found this…

    When salt air and salt water come into contact with aluminium they can cause both the chalky, white coating of aluminium oxide and unpleasant pitting.

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