Vinyl Pinstripe Installation Tricks

by Don Kress
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Vinyl pinstripes are easy to install on your vehicle. Unfortunately, they're also easy to install incorrectly. This becomes evident while you're actually applying the pinstripe, as more often than not you end up with a stripe that's too high on one side of the car and too low on the other side of the car. Professionals have a special way of installing vinyl pinstripes, though, that virtually eliminates having to unstick and restick the pinstripe several times before getting it right.

Surface Preparation

For the pinstripe to properly adhere to the surface of the car, the paint must be cleaned before application of the pinstripe. While you won't have to sand or otherwise scuff the surface, you must make certain that the panels the stripe is applied to don't have any wax or dirt on them. Wipe the area in which the stripe is to be installed with a clean cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. The alcohol acts as a very mild solvent to remove grease, dirt and wax. In addition, it evaporates quickly, leaving no residue.

Installing the Pinstripe

First, peel off an inch or two of the white paper backing of the pinstripe. Stick this part to the front fender of the vehicle where you want the pinstripe to begin. Next, unroll the pinstripe, pulling the paper backing off as you go, but keeping the pinstripe away from the vehicle. When you get to the back of the vehicle, line up the pinstripe to create a slight curve on the fender, and then eyeball the pinstripe to make it parallel to the bottom of the vehicle's side windows. Pull the stripe tight, and then gently move it toward the vehicle. It will stick gently in place. Finally, press the pinstripe on the vehicle, and then remove the clear plastic top portion of the pinstripe to complete the installation.

Where to Install the Pinstripe

Pinstripes are almost universally used to decorate the belt line of the vehicle. The belt line is just below the side windows. However, you can apply vinyl pinstripe practically anywhere on the vehicle you want. You can use it as an embellishment on hard, smooth surfaces in the interior of the vehicle, or as a dividing line between the colors of a two-tone vehicle. Because vinyl pinstripes are flexible, you can even lay out a set of pinstripe flames on your vehicle with them.

Finishing Techniques

Simple finishing techniques for vinyl pinstripes are usually the best. After you have applied the pinstripe and removed the clear plastic top, use a razor blade to gently cut a smooth, sharp edge on the front and back of the stripe. In addition, if you don't press down the pinstripe too quickly, you can peel up the last or first inch of one of the stripes, angle it up and over the second part of the pinstripe, and then have them meet at the end, giving the stripe a dramatic and professional touch.

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