Words by Molly Waters, Technical Specialist, Avery Dennison, Graphics Solutions.
“So many different squeegees to choose from. Do we really need to have every squeegee on the market in our tool box? How does one choose which squeegee to use? Does it really matter what squeegee is used?
Over the years I’ve seen many new types of squeegee come on the market. We now have squeegees with a felt edge applied to help reduce scratching on the film. Before this, installers would (and some still do) apply their own material of choice to the squeegee edge. For those of you that have been installing for many years, you are probably thinking a squeegee is a squeegee, what’s the big deal?
For the most part you may be right, however as with any job having the right tool can make your job go faster and possibly improve the quality of your work. Keeping up to date on the latest tools available is worth the time you may find that one tool that you just cannot live without. In the next few paragraphs I will try to shed some light on all of the different squeegees out there and where each is best to use.
First, I’d like to point out that in the “old days” there wasn’t much choice on what squeegee to use. There was the gold squeegee and then the cheap plastic ones manufacturers gave away with rolls of cut vinyl film. Later Avery began offering a silver squeegee that allowed for similar results as some of the other squeegees on the market. These typically lasted for several jobs and didn’t nick easily. If they did an installer could sharpen the edge by running the edge against the middle of a second squeegee. (see photo)
Below I’ll list several specific types of squeegees and how these are best used. Please note this is based on my personal experience and preference. You should give them a try and form your own opinion.
White Plastic (Z1008) – These are typically the squeegees given away with in rolls of sign cut vinyl or by graphics manufacturers. These are low cost squeegees that are intended for light or single use applications they nick very easily. These get one or two uses and are usually thrown away. The most common area of use for these is applying sign cut letters.
Blue nylon (Z1007) – This one is also used for applying sign cut letters. It doesn’t nick as easily as the plastic, but not really durable enough for fleet or vehicle wraps.
White 100% Felt (Z1059) – This squeegee is best used for highly contoured areas where the hard squeegees aren’t conform able enough. This squeegee should NOT be used for the entire application because it does not allow you to put enough pressure on the film which usually results in bubbles that appear a day or so after the application. Personally I do not use this squeegee at all and do not recommend it to anyone now that the red squeegee is available.
Red with felt edge (Z1071) – This one is relatively new on the market. It is a very soft squeegee and is an excellent alternative to the felt squeegee mentioned above. I still wouldn’t recommend for an entire wrap as it is still too soft to get sufficient pressure on the film for the entire wrap. It is however, very good for highly contoured areas where you need the squeegee to flex. It is also the same thickness as regular squeegees so you don’t have to deal with the added thickness like the 100% felt.
Blue with felt edge (Z1058) – This is probably our most popular squeegee. Many people use it for doing vehicle wraps. The felt side protects the graphic when you are installing without an application tape and you can turn it to the hard side for graphics with the application tape. This is a high quality squeegee and the hard side does not nick as easily as the blue nylon or plastic new listed above.
Silver Nylon (Z1057) – I highly recommend having this one on hand to do fleet work. The high quality of the squeegee minimizes the nicks that can occur. It can still be sharpened and it will last for several jobs. This is my preferred squeegee of the ones that Avery offers.
Teflon – I’ve seen more of these out in the field over the last few years. These are made of Teflon and slide across the laminated graphics very easily. They are very hard and are fairly resistant to nicks. The down side is they an easily scratch the laminate.
“Wet Edge” or “Geek Wrap” – these are basically the Teflon squeegee with a chamois material applied to one edge. The chamois slides across the film very well she. Dry, but if you get it wet it slides even better and this virtually eliminates any scratching on the film. Of all of the squeegees on the market this is my absolute favorite.
That’s it. Who knew there could be so much to share about a 2″ x 4″ card used to apply vinyl. If you have ever wondered “why are there so many options” hopefully this will give you some insight. As I mentioned before, this is based on my first hand experience. Feel free to reply to this blog and share your thoughts. If you have another squeegee type that I didn’t mention feel free to mention it.”