How to Choose the Right Surface Protection Film and Avoid Problems

The name surface protection film kind of says it all — it’s designed to protect critical surfaces from scratching, marring, abrasions, UV exposure, or dirt and contamination.  Popular and successful due to its strength and durability, the protective film is actually an adhesive tape.  It’s produced from thin-film layers bonded together to create a barrier,  guarding everything from a building’s glass to anything else requiring under-construction protection.  For example, It’s the shrink-wrap plastic that comes affixed to your new refrigerator, and it’s the rolL of material used to cover and protect the surface of fabricated parts, especially in the automotive industry. And it’s used extensively by manufacturers of metal and plastic sheets. They are also scratch-proof and help reduce the penetration of sunlight and UV rays.

10 Questions To Ask Before Choosing the Right Surface Protection Film

To ensure you get the right protective film for your applications make sure and ask these questions.

  1. Will the film be applied to a rough or a smooth surface? Rougher surfaces have more surface area and require a thicker adhesive.
  2. Is the surface area clean and dry? Dirty application conditions will likely yield unacceptable results. Embedded materials and unnecessary debris adversely affect a protective film’s performance.
  3. Will the surface be painted or have a coating? Chemical reactions can exist between adhesives and coatings, especially the longer they are in contact with each other.
  4. What type of surface needs to be protected? Be it wood, stone, metal, glass, plastic, or ceramic; these surfaces require completely different adhesives to perform successfully.
  5. Will the film be exposed to elevated temperatures? Most rubber-based adhesives cannot handle temperatures above 150°F. Acrylic adhesives are effective at temperatures up to 350°F, and silicone adhesives up to 500°F.
  6. Will the film be used outdoors? If so, for how long? The sun’s UV rays destroy adhesives over time. The protective film will not only yellow, but will become stiff and brittle, and therefore rendered ineffective. The length of time the film will be exposed to the elements will determine how much UV protection it needs.
  7. What is the scope of the project? Do you need to protect windows with a PVC film or do you need to provide a moisture and vapour barrier on a slab where an LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) film is the answer? 
  8. Will the film be used in a safety or security application? On any project, it’s safety first. Is the purpose of the film to protect workers from shattering glass or to deter intruders?
  9. How long will the film need to adhere to the surface? If this is a long-term job, some additional component(s) may need to be added to ensure the bond of the surface to the film for the length of time you need it to hold fast.
  10. Will storage and transportation affect the film? Your crew may withstand extreme climates better than your materials! Consider their transport to the job site as well as the material’s subsequent storage so it doesn’t compromise effectiveness. Keep films and tapes in a cool, dry place.

Once affixed to a clean, dry surface, the protective film effectively prevents “damage” to that surface. Although incredibly versatile, use the wrong protective film for the job and you’ll jeopardize both your timeline and the always dreaded budget overages.


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