Be a stickler when it comes to applying stickers!

Common labels in the electrical utility industry are the adhesive-backed stickers used for number/letter identification marking and hazard warning safety signage on the various assets that are components within the electrical transmission and distribution system.

We all know how to apply them. Peel the back off and stick them where you need them – it seems simple enough. But when it comes to labels used in outdoor environments, you need and expect them to last ten years or more. With outdoor durability in mind, these labels are made with high-performance plastic films and utilize strong, permanent adhesives that will stay adhered throughout all weather conditions.

This blog contains a few simple tips about the right way and wrong way to apply your labels, and can make the difference in whether they stay put for years, or peel or blister shortly after you apply them.

Clean your surface

Surfaces to which labels are to be adhered to must be free of wax, oil, grease, dirt, loose particles, or other contaminants.

Use a wire brush and/or an abrasive pad to remove any surface oxidation or chalking.

Unless known otherwise, all surfaces should be considered to be contaminated and should be cleaned with a residue-free surface cleaner such as Electromark’s Surface Prep 77, glass cleaner, or even isopropyl alcohol.

Utilize the liner to help apply neatly & cleanly

The backing liner is of course, the paper or plastic backing on the label that covers the adhesive until the time of application. But the liner does more than just protect the adhesive from sticking to things you don’t want it to, or keeping the adhesive clean until you’re ready to apply.

Protective liners are typically either back-split or tabbed at one end of the label. This makes it easier to remove the backing. But don’t just peel off the liner all at once!

Workers applying labels probably have dirty fingers from performing other maintenance tasks, and removing the liner all at once forces them to have to make contact with the adhesive by their fingers. Just like a dirty application surface, this transfers contaminants to the adhesive and negatively impacts its ability to adhere.

For liners having a back-split, it is possible to remove only one portion at a time. This allows the installer to grasp the end of the label that still has the liner intact, between thumb and forefinger.

Once the end of the marker having the liner removed has been pressed in place, the remainder of the liner may be removed, and the rest of the marker may be similarly rubbed into place.

Similarly, tabbed liners can be folded back upon themselves, exposing only half of the adhesive and applying in the same fashion.

Work from one edge to the other

Adhere one edge of the label first, then progressively adhere working towards the opposite edge. This prevents bubbles under your label by pushing trapped air pockets out as you go.

Finish by rubbing the entire surface of the label down with firm pressure. This helps ensure maximum adhesive contact and adhesion.

The Electromark advantage

Here at Electromark, we know how to make labels last. When you combine our durable outdoor labels with the tips in this blog, you can be assured that your stickers will stand the test of time.

Not sure where to begin? Need more advice or product suggestions? Feel free to reach out to our customer service team, or submit a question to our Application Engineer, Brandon Furber.

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