I hear these questions all of the time. Can I submerge this vinyl? Will this vinyl work in saltwater? Is it dishwasher safe? Is this vinyl waterproof? There are yes and no’s to all of these questions, but we have to get to the root of the situation to really know the answers.

Can I Submerge Vinyl?

Can I Submerge Vinyl?

The vinyl itself is made up of a PVC (polyvinyl chloride), plasticizers, pigment, and other additives. On the rear side of the vinyl, adhesive is applied to allow the vinyl to adhere itself to many surfaces. The adhesive can be sensitive to certain fluids when applied on or near the vinyl causing the adhesive to release itself from the surface.

Adhesive can be permanent, removable, solvent or water-based. Identify your adhesive and be sure to use the correct fluids for wet application or cleaning. You would want to avoid using water with water-based adhesive. This would destroy the adhesive breaking it down and causing adhesion failure.

Sticking to solvent based permanent adhesive vinyl will help you get a longer hold and wear for items being washed by hand or for items sitting outside in the elements.

Is it dishwasher safe?

Permanent adhesive vinyl is going to have a better grip than a removable adhesive. A big question in the craft industry: Is it dishwasher safe? Yes and No. A lot of factors go into that question. One question to ask would be: How often will you wash it?

If you are putting adhesive vinyl, which is adhered to cups, bottles or any other form of dishes, in the dishwasher, the permanent adhesive vinyl will hold for a while, possibly up to 50+ washes. Eventually, it’s going to lose it’s grip and deterioration will set in. Yes you can put it in the dishwasher and possibly get away with several washes, no, it won’t hold forever.

It’s not made for the heat, water or steam. Heat and steam are actual forms of removal for vinyl. Every time your dishwasher is on, it’s working to remove your vinyl.

Is it safe for saltwater?

Sign industry folks are always looking for ways to use vinyl around the water because most of the industry is based on dealing with outside elements. I live in Houston and since we have a lot of oil industry based businesses down here, companies are constantly working on projects in or around the ocean.

Pipeline lying on ocean bottom underwater. 3D rendering

Many times I have been asked if there is a way to submerge vinyl for underwater pipes. I have literally called every vinyl manufacturer that I distribute for and every one of them have told me “No, we don’t have a product at this time for underwater projects”. Not only “no” to water, but saltwater also becomes another issue in that equation.

Wooden retro boat taxi parked on the canal in Venice

Can I do a full body boat wrap?

Full body boat wraps are not recommended either. Not in lakes nor in ocean water. Marine vinyl is available for boats, but if you look at the fine print, it states to keep the vinyl above the water line. This means they won’t warranty vinyl below water.

Boat wraps require a little extra time and effort. You must seal the edges very well. I had a client who wrapped a boat and his client brought it back after one visit on the lake.

The front seams were not sealed correctly and had lifted because water forced it’s way under the wrap through tiny open crevices, filling parts of it with water along the sides of the boat. It was mess.

Full body wraps are at your own discretion. Make sure you get every seam down firmly.

You can seal vinyl with epoxy or other sealants, but make sure those sealants are rated water submersible, otherwise, you could have wrap failure.

Vinyl submerged underwater is only a temporary option as of now. Choose your vinyl options carefully and educate yourself and your clients. Submerge at your own risk.

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