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Replacing paint with vinyl
By Denise Nathan

Self adhesive film technology has undergone significant improvements over the years. Films are more durable and flexible and new adhesives are continually being developed to allow for more unusual and demanding applications.

Today some self adhesive products are so advanced, they are being used as paint replacement systems in some industry sectors.  

Film offers many advantages over traditional paint.


For vehicles and mobile transport, such as trains and buses, it means less down time in the workshop. These industries generate business from their fleet so having them off the road means lost revenue. Painting involves sanding, priming and down time waiting for the paint to cure and usually several coats needs to be applied. As such a vehicle can be off the road for a significant period of time costing the client money. Vehicles wrapped with self adhesive films are immediately ready post application. Fixing damages is also easier as repairs can be done on site wherever the vehicle is as opposed to the vehicle needing to return to a depot or workshop.

Courier fleets, taxis and other corporate fleets can be instantly transformed to company colours. Not only does this ensure consistency with branding but if the colour is more unusual when the vehicle is sold, vinyl can simply be stripped off to reveal the original more saleable colour. The film also helps to preserve the condition of the underlying paint work improving resale value.

The marine industry has also recognised the benefits of using film instead of paint. The application of film is far less labour intensive than paint. Maintenance work can be carried out along side vinyl application whereas welding around solvent paints is a safety hazard. The film provides excellent protection of the boat surface against corrosion and requires far less maintenance. Repairs can be done on site for any damage occurring above the water line. In overseas markets commercial boasts and ferries are being completely wrapped with film in preference to paint.

Critical to the success of using a film as a paint replacement is ease of application, colour fastness and removal. The film needs to be applied quickly and easily to maintain a competitive edge over paint. The adhesive also needs to be constructed in such a way that the film removes easily and cleanly when it is time to be replaced. Customers are expecting long term durability from these applications and many films will not remove easily and cleanly after such a long period. MACtac produces permanent adhesives that while permanent will remove extremely well up to five years with no to minimal adhesive residue and without the top sheet breaking into thousands of little pieces.
When you have a large fleet to strip, how a film removes has a massive impact on the cost of a job and should be an important consideration in product selection at the start of any job.

Using films as a paint replacement solution is a profitable and cost effective service that can be offered to customers and provides a great way to generate more business opportunities for our industry.

Denise Nathan is Marketing Manager - MACtac in Oceania