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How to install Reflective Tape and Reflective Pin Stripe

While Streetglo specializes in reflective pinstripe and reflective tape, most of this tutorial will also apply to installing ordinary garden variety pinstripe as well. It should be noted however that reflective pinstripe and reflective tape has a much lower tolerance for stretching generally. While you can stretch and bend ordinary pinstripe during installation, with reflective material you should minimize all stretching. Most reflective materials will begin to crack within weeks of installation if stretched excessively.

There are several rules for installing any type of reflective tape, pinstripe, or reflective pinstriping. First, make sure the vehicle is clean and free of dirt, tar, and other contaminants. Even after a thorough washing, you can often run your hand along the surface and still feel what I call "tar pimples" that will ruin the final appearance of your custom pinstriping job. Use a tar removal solvent from your Auto Parts Store to clean up any tar pimples you may still have after cleaning.

Next, clean your hands! The body oils and dirt deep in your fingerprints will cause adhesion problems (you don't want the ends of your pinstripe to turn up, do you?).

There are several methods to install pinstripe. I happen to like the one I use which is the same procedure I will suggest to you. It's called "mark, stick tug and tap". Using this system you will have nearly perfect lines (for those that are to be straight) . For those pinstripe lines that will be curved, this same system is used however you also have a little freehand pinstripe work to combine to get a nicely curved pinstripe line.

Let's examine now straight pinstripe lines:

Let us assume you are going to install a straight pinstripe line just below the door molding on a typical sedan. Pick both the starting point and the ending point for this straight line. Place a small piece of masking tape ( MARK) at each end of the final starting and ending points for your pinstripe. Now for the fun and easy part…. Attach (STICK) the pinstripe at your starting point and make sure it is level to the line you wish to run. Start back actually just behind the starting point as the next step will ensure the line will be perfect. Next, pull back the wax backing and (TUG ) the tape putting only enough tension to straighten the line as you slowly begin to attach the other end to your other Mark at the front of the sedan.
(Note: reflective tape stretches quite easily.  do not try to do the entire length of the car or truck in one application.   Break it down into sections and don't stretch the tape excessively or it will crack with a little age and sun).This TUG action will create a perfectly straight line. As you hover about 1-2" above the mark point, as you slowly begin to move towards the mark, you will see the pinstripe tape will begin attaching itself starting from the starting point and working itself up the car body as your continue to lower towards the end point. This is due to the slight curve in the body of most sedans. As you lower, the tape comes in contact with the curved body. At this point, the tape is barely stuck, so you have the option to re lift and try again and again. You can make straight lines by simply practicing this procedure. Curved lines are a simple variation of this procedure. As with a straight line, in a curved line you simply lower or raise the elevation of your working point as you slowly lower the reflective tape or pin stripe to the car body. Using this method is a sure way to get perfectly straight or perfectly geometric curves. Once you have laid the pin stripe or reflective tape down, and only once you are sure of the result, you then (TAP) your tape down gently with your fingertips. Do not try to brush it down or it will move!

A few words of caution:

If you have never before installed reflective pinstripe, reflective tape or ordinary pinstripe, practice first with a "CHEAP" discount store roll of tape. Don't try this first installation with expensive reflective pinstripe.
If you are using any brand of reflective material such as reflective tape or reflective pin stripe, minimize the TUG to no more force than is necessary to straighten the line. If you are installing a very long strip, install in half or quarter distance sessions to avoid drooping in your lines. Reflective Tape or Reflective Pinstriping feels a lot like ordinary vinyl pinstriping but it's chemical make up is different. Most brands will begin to crack after only a few weeks, and cracked up pinstriping isn't very attractive.

Why use reflective pinstripe on your motorcycle?

Reflective pinstripe for motorcycles is a no-brainer! It can easily save your life at night. There's not one single reason you should be without it. Reflective pin stripe will help other motorist see you and help avoid them hitting you. Let's face it, A motorcycle is hard to see even when you look at it. You need to make some visual noise and reflective pinstripe and other reflective materials is a great first step.

Why use reflective pinstripe on your car or truck?

Reflective pinstripe on your car, truck or boat! It still makes sense. First of all, it is very very cool looking! You can't tell much in the day as it looks like any other high quality pinstripe. However at night, your vehicle be the star of the roadway with it's bright and reflective pin stripe lines.

Why use reflective pinstripe on your boat?

Reflective pinstripe on a boat. Like with motorcycles, this can save your life. It is especially important in river channels an anchorage areas. Even the smallest running light from another boat nearby will cause your boat to be seen. On a boat, it is recommended to use the larger reflective tape items such as the 3/4, 1 or 2" reflective tapes

Installing Pinstripe and Reflective Tape  

How to install pinstriping and reflective tape.

Wet installation of pin stripe
Installing reflective tape
Installing pinstripes

 Install pinstriping and other reflective tapes instructions