Need Help Applying Heat to Glass

DPD

Member
Hi All,

It's occurred to me that the way I've been removing vinyl from glass could be problematic. Since day 1 I've used a heat gun to warm up the vinyl and make it easier to remove. I'm quoting vinyl removal from 4 glass panels, each about 1/4 thick, tempered, exterior, approximately 6ft x 7ft for each panel. This is not the type of thing I'd like to see crack or turn into little tempered glass pieces.

Is heat the way to go to soften the adhesive under the vinyl, use brute force to remove the vinyl, or is there another way? Thanks all.

- denis
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
In my experience, it's OK to gently heat it as long as it's not cold out. Do no use a heat gun if it's freezing outside or the glass can shatter. I just removed 3 large windows. I don't use a lot of heat, I just go over it to warm it up. I pull the vinyl off in a downward motion going almost on top of the glass. I never pull out, always with the glass. I do small sections at a time if it's fully covered I will take my knife and cut strips then pull the strips off one by one instead of one massive 8' section.
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
I've seen it break. I didn't personally do it, but I will never use heat, as in never. Razor blade and elbow grease. These people don't know what kinda glass they have, so quote it by being safe. It'll cost more, but it's still cheaper than replacing someone's window.

Acrylic or ploy, no problem, but not glass.
 

Billct2

Major Contributor
On really old vinyl I've used a hairdryer, and start from a distance. But it's mostly done with a razor and windex as a lubricant. Of course confirm it's glass, razors can mar polycarbonate.
 

ikarasu

Very Active Member
As mentioned, rapid heat change is the issue. If its warm outside and your removing the vinyl from the inside you should be ok. If its cold outside and your removing it... thats when the issue starts to happen.

Make sure you spread the heat evenly... IE dont just warm up the spot your removing... you're better off slowly heating the whole window so it gets used to the temp change... then focusing on the spot you're removing the vinyl.

One thing we do when the windows are very thin... We use a ceramic tower fan so it spreads the heat over a 24-30" area rather than concentrated in one spot.

You can use heat on windows...you just need to be safe about it, and I'm sure eventually one will break...
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
I should probably rethink using heat. Thankfully I've not had a problem by just keeping the heat gun further away and not holding it in one spot. No sense in learning the hard way...razor blade next time!
 

Pauly

Colour Guru
I should probably rethink using heat. Thankfully I've not had a problem by just keeping the heat gun further away and not holding it in one spot. No sense in learning the hard way...razor blade next time!
Heat up the whole window equally if it's cold.
 

rjssigns

Major Contributor
Like Gino said razor blade and elbow grease. Look into the razor scrapers window tint shops use. Nice wide blade and long handles. During the summer I will use steam to speed things up.
 

DPD

Member
I've seen it break. I didn't personally do it, but I will never use heat, as in never. Razor blade and elbow grease. These people don't know what kinda glass they have, so quote it by being safe. It'll cost more, but it's still cheaper than replacing someone's window.

Acrylic or ploy, no problem, but not glass.

I was leaning towards plastic razor blades and elbow grease. The letters are block, 17 inches high, with a stroke of about 3 inches. There are 16 of them and I was figuring for removal and adhesive cleanup at 30 mins per letter.

I dunno, sound crazy?
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
I doubt the entire window will take that long, unless there's something physically wrong with you.

We have plastic razors, but we use them on surfaces that cannot/may not be scratched. For glass, we use metal. I did a window a few weeks ago. Actually, it was on a corner, so there were 2 windows. The old lettering was about 15" tall on the top line and 9" on the next 2 lines. They were about 16' long. Mullions down the middle Took about 30 minutes for everything to come off and that includes an alcolhol bath afterwards. The razor blades are about 2" wide. When you use metal, it will take almost all of the glue in the same swipe. Oh, and I was on a step ladder to do the top two lines of both windows. I've already used those larger blades, but just can't get the right angle and it seems to hamper the overall job. The small ones are just fine. Still charged about $185 to remove it. But I got over a grand to re-letter it with 3 words. That part took maybe an hour all total. Measuring, markings and slapping the vinyl up. All-in-all, from travel time to returning was about 2.5 hours and got $1,350. Just white die-cut vinyl.
 
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Stacey K

I like making signs
OP -- Hmm..I had 1 window with full perf on it about 4'x6', 1 window with full perf about 2'x6' and 1 window with "Now Open" cut vinyl about 4'x4' and it was done in 35 minutes and cleaned for the new vinyl.
 

d fleming

Very Active Member
Last big removal job was 36 panels exterior not too long after I got my arm out of brace from being broken. Hired a window cleaning company to do it. After two days they had cleaned 3 panels and were whining.When I got there to see what was going on they were using 6" razors that they were accustomed to for cleaning office windows. I grabbed my 4" sheet rock knife and after they had a good laugh I do six windows in 30 minutes. When they saw what rapid remover did as opposed to soap and water they were using for glue residual they declared me their king.
 

DPD

Member
I just want to say thank you everyone for the responses. They were informative and entertaining - yup, even got a laugh with one of them.

Looking at what it takes some here to remove vinyl I seem to be abundantly overestimating this job. I have the plastic razors that I purchased some time back when I was removing vinyl from a fleet of trucks and I'll look into the other suggestions. The job I'm quoting now sort of raised my antennae because I did find shattered glass at my feet while looking at the location. Glass was tempered so it was in little pieces. Got me to thinking though, and I remembered reading that glass and heat, at times, don't play together too well and this seems to be confirmed by everyone. I just feel darned lucky that I've never cracked glass but I don't want to keep rolling the dice.

I probably take this too far but sometimes what I'll do is look at a per piece and per project pricing and see what makes sense. After hearing from everyone it seems that 10 minutes per letter (includes setup and adhesive removal) seems reasonable and then I'll compare that to a per project time-on-job type of quote and see. I don't know about all of you but there's been some times where it seems I'm working for free.

Stay well everyone.
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
If it's a big job, it hurts my fingers to keep pulling, I sometimes burn my finger tips. I almost always set my heat gun on something and burn it. Just saying it's a crappy job and I will be damned if I do it for free LOL

Last week I had a big trailer and we agreed on 3 hours of removal. If it were to exceed that he said he would just have his $10 hr employees do it. OK with me! I texted him after 10 minutes and said I thought 3 hours would be about right but I would let him know at 3 hours how far I was. I was done in 3 hours 15 minutes, he was very happy with that. I will not do it for free, an estimate for removal is just that...an estimate. I hate removal, it's not fun.
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
If your customer goes for that, more power to ya, but do you really think it's gonna take you over 2.5 hours to remove 16 vinyl letters ?? In most cases that's like $225 to $250 to remove a little vinyl. Not arguing with ya, just trying to grasp why you went from 8 hours down to 2.5, when it won't even take you an hour. Are you only getting paid to remove these letters ?? Nothing going back up ??
 

DPD

Member
If your customer goes for that, more power to ya, but do you really think it's gonna take you over 2.5 hours to remove 16 vinyl letters ?? In most cases that's like $225 to $250 to remove a little vinyl. Not arguing with ya, just trying to grasp why you went from 8 hours down to 2.5, when it won't even take you an hour. Are you only getting paid to remove these letters ?? Nothing going back up ??

There's more lettering going up as well as this being a part of a larger project. When quoting I like to look at each part of the job discretely.
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
There's more lettering going up as well as this being a part of a larger project. When quoting I like to look at each part of the job discretely.
I guess the easiest solution is to use this as a learning experience. Tell them an hour and time yourself. Take a pic of the job print it out and write the time it takes on the sheet. Then you know for next time. Eat the extra labor if it takes you longer. Then you have a good idea for the next job. Sometimes that's just what you have to do if it's something new you are doing. The first guy just gets a deal and the next guy pays the correct price. I've done that with several different jobs that are new to me.
 
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