Custom vinyl banners are one of the most versatile signs in getting your message to a wide audience. They are durable, can be displayed in many different ways, cost-affordable, weather-resistant (excepting inclement weather), and come in a variety of sizes. With the ability to fully customize your banner it’s easy to see why these banners are many people’s first choice for custom signage.
However, wrinkled or creased banners can be an unsightly and unprofessional look for businesses trying to make a good first impression. Not only can they be displeasing aesthetically, but extremely wrinkled or creased vinyl banners can be ineffective in persuading prospects to check out your business. In a world in which businesses and marketers have just a few seconds to deliver their message, too much creasing or wrinkling in a banner can obscure the message that you want to deliver. Further, poorly stored banners can shorten the lifespan of what is otherwise a very durable sign.
So, how do you get (and keep!) wrinkles out of a vinyl banner? In this post, we’ll run through some tips on how to remove wrinkles from vinyl banners as well as how to store banners properly to avoid future wrinkling, creasing, and fold lines.
Vinyl Materials and Wrinkling
We can’t talk about removing wrinkles from vinyl banners without understanding the vinyl material itself.
Here at Signs.com, banners are printed on 13 oz. and 18 oz. vinyl. The 13 oz. vinyl is a high-resolution banner with a smooth surface. This is commonly used in trade shows, parades, and even billboards.
While our 13 oz. banners are good for the vast majority of uses we also off a thicker banner material printed on 18 oz. vinyl. Also known as a block out banner, the 18 oz. vinyl prevents light from shining through, allows for double-sided printing, and provides an even more durable and stronger vinyl material than our standard 13 oz. vinyl for the uses that require it.
Whether you choose 13 or 18 oz. you’re bound to run into wrinkling and creasing. Wrinkles in vinyl banners are something common across the signage industry. Wrinkles and creases can result from poor storage and usage but also because of certain shipping methods. Many custom signage providers will ship oversized vinyl banners folded to reduce shipping size and costs for the end customer. Folded banners are just one reason your banner might end up with wrinkles or creases but with a little bit of effort, these fold lines and/or wrinkles can be removed! So, let’s discuss how to remove those wrinkles and creases!
How to Get Creases Out of Vinyl Banners
As noted above, size and shipping costs may require your banners to be folded. We recommend removing your shipped banner immediately upon receiving it to reduce any wrinkles or fold lines. Whether your banner arrives with wrinkles or not, there are a couple of common ways to remove wrinkles from your vinyl banner before displaying it. Both methods come down to using heat to soften the vinyl and allow the wrinkles to be removed.
Before removing your wrinkles, another thing to keep in mind is that banners should be clean before smoothing out the wrinkles. Accumulated dirt and grime can make the process of removing wrinkles messier and harder. Thus, we recommend you use a soft cloth with warm water to clean your banner before removing the wrinkles. A dry cloth can be used to quickly dry it off before beginning.
To remove wrinkles from your vinyl banners, use one of these two methods:
- Lay the banner on a flat surface and let the sun do the work. Simply put, using natural heat is the best method. This option works well when it’s sunny and warm outside. The heat from the sun will soften the vinyl material and naturally smooth out wrinkles in your banner. This process may take a few hours or even up to a day or two before you notice any difference. The length of time just depends on how much sunlight and heat there is, how big the banner is, and how many and how severe the wrinkling/creasing is.
Two additional tips to help this process work are to use gravity and tension to essentially stretch out the vinyl. If the banner comes with grommets, you can hang the vinyl banner against a wall, facing the sun. Adding a very small amount of weight (e.g., we’ve seen people use partially filled water bottles as very light weights) forces the banner to stretch out the material, which helps in flattening creases. When laid flat you can also place light weights in the corners to keep the banner from naturally rolling up if it was recently shipped or stored in a rolled fashion.
Likewise, using grommets and bungee cords (or zip ties or rope) can help the banner be displayed in the heat in a taut fashion. With time, the sun and heat will do their work and remove the wrinkles.
- Use a heat gun, handheld steamer, or a hairdryer to smoothen any wrinkles. In the absence of natural heat, artificial heat can be used to help remove wrinkles from your vinyl banners.
It is worth mentioning that extreme caution should be exercised when using artificial heat. Too much heat can permanently damage or completely ruin your vinyl banner. Thus, all efforts to remove wrinkles from your vinyl banners should adhere to a few common principles.
1. Avoid direct contact with the vinyl banner with any artificial heat. Heat that is even too close can still damage the vinyl banner so direct contact should definitely be avoided.
2. Always operate on a lower heat setting. We’d recommend the lowest setting and maybe a medium heat at most depending on the tool in use.
3. Test a corner of your vinyl banner before widespread efforts to remove wrinkles to ensure your heat setting is appropriate. You can even test it on a piece of fabric before doing a corner of the vinyl banner as one more way to ascertain your heat setting is sufficient and no more.
4. Avoid keeping the artificial heat in any one area for too long. Even a low heat setting held in one place for too long can cause damage to your vinyl banner.
5. Only heat the non-printed side while trying to remove wrinkles or creases. For double-sided printing, see #6.
6. If in doubt, or when working with double-sided printing, use something in between the heat source and your vinyl banner to ensure that you avoid permanent damage. A soft cloth or some kind of fabric can help transfer heat to the vinyl banner but help avoid any direct heat that may be too much for the printing or vinyl banner itself.
With these common principles in mind, place the banner printed side down on a clean flat surface such as the table or the floor. With the heat gun or handheld steamer (a hairdryer is a common replacement for those that don’t have either of these tools) on low heat, slowly pass over wrinkled areas to flatten the creases on the banner. Once heated some wrinkles or creases may require that you use your hand to help flatten them out but in most cases, the artificial heat works just like the sun by softening the vinyl banner and helping to remove any unwanted wrinkles.
While we strongly recommend letting natural heat remove the wrinkles in your vinyl banners we understand that sometimes wrinkles need to be removed quickly so your banner can be displayed. Or maybe it’s too cloudy to have decent sun exposure on the banner!
Whatever the reason, and in these cases, make sure you follow ALL the guidelines above to avoid permanently damaging your vinyl banner in any way.
A Word On Irons
Many websites and people suggest using a traditional iron to help remove wrinkles from your vinyl banners. Their recommendations typically follow many of the principles outlined above, and various hacks or DIY methods (ex. covering the iron with some kind of moist cloth) are employed to prevent damage to the banner, and by doing both of these things the process often is successful.
Nonetheless, it is our recommendation that an iron never be used to remove wrinkles from your vinyl banner.
While this is just another artificial heat source, in our experience, the risk for damage is the greatest while using an iron. The weight of most irons and the potential for direct contact is enough for us to always point people to other methods.
So, while an iron is an option it is not one we recommend be used to remove creases or fold lines.
How to Store Banners Properly to Prevent Wrinkles
The durability and long lifespan of vinyl banners mean that after you’ve removed the wrinkles from your banner and displayed it, you’ll likely need to put it away in storage before it’s used again. To minimize future wrinkles and creases and minimize future wrinkle removal effort, before you store your banner, make sure to keep these tips in mind:
- Store the banner in a cool and dark area. While sunlight is good for removing wrinkles, it can also cause the printed area to fade faster. Likewise, storing your banner directly touching or next to a heat source such as a furnace or otherwise can cause permanent damage. Thus, keep your banner away from direct sunlight and heat sources during storage to prolong its life.
- Roll the banner—don’t fold. Folding banners is the main reason why there are wrinkles in the first place. Instead of folding, we recommend always rolling the banner (preferably with a cardboard or plastic tube core) to prevent creases from forming. While rolled it is also critical to avoid placing any kind of heavy weight on top of your banner. Even a rolled banner with a weight on top of it can be result in creases or fold lines.
- Keep it in its original packaging. Some banners come with a storage bag, while others are packed in a box. Regardless of the packaging, if it makes sense to do so and is possible, storing your banner in its original container can help protect it and keep it clean for the long-run.
- Regular use. If you intend to store your banner for an extended period, we’d recommend getting it out and unrolling it on occasion to help prolong its lifespan and to avoid wrinkles.
No matter how careful you are in the use and storage of your vinyl banner, all vinyl banners will meet their end at some point. If your banner is years old and the wrinkles or creases won’t come out it’s likely time for a new custom banner.
Vinyl banners are effective promotional tools that help bring more customers to your business. But a wrinkled banner can drive away potential customers and damage the perception of your brand. Display and keep banners in excellent condition by storing them properly and using the right techniques to remove wrinkles. Doing so will help you display your banner in its best shape and attract customers to your business!