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Second Surface Printing

Second Surface Window Graphics

Business owners and managers understand what storefront window graphics are and how effective they are in promoting to foot traffic. What they don’t know is how the vinyl is printed.

Second surface is the practice of printing on the face (adhesive side) of the vinyl. This process enables the vinyl to be installed inside the building, away from the outdoor elements. Second surface graphics are protected from after-hours onlookers and have a longer life expectancy than first surface.

Second surface graphics are printed in a “mirror image” to be a right reading image for viewers. A print ready image for second surface will be inverted in order to print as a first surface piece.

It’s more than just vinyl!

Second surface is used on many acrylic signage, it provides a richer, elegant appearance of the sign, especially a standoff lobby sign. Printing directly to the substrate, albeit acrylic, vinyl or glass, is done with any image, regardless of orientation.

Second surface myth debunked:

The cost is the same! Although some sign printers charge an addition fee to create a reversed image, we never do. We consider print ready art as any image approved for production, whether it be first or second surface.

Kevin Smith
Marketing Manager
Heritage Custom Signs

3 Important Thinks to Know about Window Graphics

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

1) Window graphics are made from adhesive vinyl. Custom printing your image, or any we can help you design, is not a problem. Our full-color printing systems can print white ink for fashionable interior privacy frosting. The important factor is the vinyl, large vinyl art pieces applied to glass (interior or exterior) are a one-time application, they can’t be reapplied after removal. Small works of vinyl art can be reused, AKA: window clings, because they are small and are printed on “low-tack” adhesive vinyl. Large vinyl graphics will stretch and possible tear on removal, rendering them useless.

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

2) The terminology used to describe the placement of the vinyl to the glass is first surface and second surface. First surface is most common, the art is printed to the face of the vinyl (adhesive on the back) and is applied directly to the exterior side of the glass. Second surface is reverse printing on the adhesive side, with the application of the vinyl being on the inside of the glass. Why does this matter? Second surface is more protected from the sun, the elements and traffic and typically has a longer life. Interior glass (like cubicles and conference rooms) first surface is used primarily due to both sides of the glass being equally exposed, in most cases.

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

3) Window graphics are not priced by the square foot. 12’ x 12’ = 144’ x $ is not a viable formula to ensure you receive what you envision with your windows. Variables include: graphic design, vinyl specifications and installation as well as total length. Many customers have art available, but it may not be “print-ready”, meaning the imagery dimensions do not match the glass dimensions, wherein distortion occurs. Vinyl has many specifications, such as “tackiness”, thickness and functionality. We have full-time installers on staff and a network of professional installers available at our beckoning. If we make a mistake with your install, it will be replaced at no additional cost to you. If your personal installer makes an error and another panel must be printed, we will have to charge for the panel.

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

Kevin Smith
Marketing Manager
Heritage Custom Signs

What You Need to Know About Window Graphics

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

Window graphics refers to the adhesive vinyl applied to glass, both interior and exterior.

Vinyl applied to glass has many advantages:

  • Advertising

  • Sun Protection

  • Privacy

  • Aesthetics

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

There are 5 things you need to know before purchasing window graphics:

  1. Graphics, do you have them, or will we be creating them? Often our customers have digital images and we use them to create the graphic, this is the normal process.

  2. Size, most cities has sign regulations that include storefront windows, understanding the law can save you lots of time, money and frustration. Privacy panes, like those on conference rooms, only cover 30% of the center pane, allowing the top and bottom to be clear. What is the actual size of your window? We measure digitally to avoid errors.

  3. First or second surface, where will the vinyl be applied? First surface is the most common, graphics applied to the external side of the glass, second surface is applied on the back or inside of the glass. This is important in regard to the design and intended use.

  4. Proof and print, we provide PDF proofs of your final product prior to printing, we will be certain you approve before we go to print.

  5. Installation, we prefer to install the graphics for you. This ensures your windows will be exactly what you approved, if we rip a graphic, we will reprint and apply, if you rip it, we’ll help you recover from the mistake.

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

5 simple things to know will help you have a window graphic experience second to none. We help with the design, provide site surveys to ensure the size and the local sign restrictions. Some graphics, perform better applied to the inside surface of the glass, we will be happy to advise you on this. Complete transparency throughout the process, we communicate professionally to avoid mistakes, overages and delays. We know adhesive vinyl and are here to help you avoid stress, especially with the installation.

Window Graphics

Window Graphics

Kevin Smith
Marketing Manager
Heritage Custom Signs