a pair of hands applying 3M reflective conspicuity tape

How to Apply and Remove Reflective Tape and Conspicuity Markings

Best practices on how to apply and remove reflective tape.

How to Apply Reflective Tape?

Four steps to apply your reflective tape.

To ensure the durability, strong adhesion, and effectiveness of your reflective tape, it’s important to correctly apply the reflective tape to your vehicle, equipment, or property. The proper application also helps to ensure that your warranty is valid.

  • blue clouds in good weather
    Step 1 — Check the Weather

    For optimum adhesion and durability, 3M reflective tapes should be applied when the temperature is between 50°-100°F (10°-38°C). If the temperature is above 38°C, take care to avoid pre-adhesion. If the temperature is below 10°C, heat the application surface using portable heaters or heat lamps, and store the markings in a hotbox to keep them above 10°C.

  • various tools needed to apply 3M reflective tape
    Step 2 — Get the Right Tools

    Here are the tools you’ll need to apply your reflective tape:

    • Scissors or utility knife with a sharp blade for cutting.
    • Squeegee or roller to apply pressure across the surface of the reflective tape. The 3M PA-1 Squeegee is recommended.
    • Rivet tool, such as an Osborne Arc Punch #149, if you’re going over rivets. You can also cut around rivets.
  • surface preparation to ensure proper adhesion
    Step 3 — Prepare the Surface

    For proper adhesion, clean any surface where you’re applying reflective tape:

    • Wash surfaces with detergent and water to remove dirt and road film.
    • Flush washed the area with plain, clean water to remove detergent. Soap film can inhibit adhesion.
    • Wipe using a lint-free paper towel saturated with non-oily, quick-drying solvent, such as isopropyl alcohol, acetone, or 3M Prep Solvent 70.
    • Immediately dry surfaces with a clean, dry, lint-free paper towel before the solvent evaporates completely, paying close attention to rivets, seams, and door hinge areas.
  • learn more about how to apply 3M reflective tape with a step-by-step guide
    Step 4 — Apply the Reflective Tape

    To apply the reflective tape:

    • Remove the liner and position the reflective tape on the application surface.
    • Tack down lightly to hold the reflective tape in position.
    • Use your hand to press the reflective tape onto the application surface.
    • Using your 3M PA-1 Squeegee (or other applicators) press the reflective tape down using firm, overlapping strokes.
    • If there are hinges, latches or other hardware, cut the tape about ⅛ inches back to avoid buckling.
    • To apply over rivets, apply the reflective tape over the rivet using firm pressure. Leave a bridge over the rivet head. Use a rivet punch to cut the tape around the rivet. Remove the tape over the rivet head. Squeegee around the rivet.

Conspicuity Application Video

How to apply our conspicuity tape and reflective markings.

How to Remove Reflective Tape?

Three steps to remove reflective tape.

3M reflective tapes are easy to remove. Follow these simple steps to remove reflective tape from your vehicles, equipment, or property:

  • various tools needed to remove 3M reflective tape
    Step 1 — Get the Right Tools

    Here are the tools you’ll need to remove your reflective tape:

    • Single-edged razor blades.
    • Handled tool to hold razor blades.
    • Safety glasses.
    • Solvent resistant protective gloves.
    • Absorbent paper towels.
    • Recommended solvents, such as isopropyl alcohol, 3M Citrus Cleaner, brake cleaning fluid, or paint remover (on non-painted, bare metals).
  • how to remove reflective tape from vehicles and other application types
    Step 2 — Remove the Reflective Marking

    To remove the reflective marking:

    • Use a handled tool containing a new single-edged razor blade to lift an edge of the marking. Change razor blades frequently, as a sharp blade delivers the best results.
    • While keeping the edge of the razor-close to the surface of the substrate, begin to work the razor from side to side in small strokes in the direction of removal.
    • Pull the loose marking with minimal tension from the substrate at an angle of approximately 45 degrees while working the razorback and forth.
    • If markings break away from the substrate, keep repeating steps one through three above.
  • person removing the adhesive from 3M reflective tape
    Step 3 — Remove the Adhesive

    To remove the adhesive:

    • Spray solvent onto the adhesive residue.
    • Let the solvent soak on the adhesive for three to five minutes.
    • Use a sharp razor blade in a handled tool to scrape off the adhesive.
    • Wipe residue off razor onto a paper towel.

    It may be necessary to repeat steps one through four several times to remove all adhesive. All adhesive residue must be removed before reapplying markings. The substrate must be cleaned with alcohol using one towel to clean and another to wipe away residue before reapplying markings.

Removing reflective tape video
Conspicuity Removal Video

How to remove our conspicuity tape and reflective markings.

Resources for Reflective Tape and Conspicuity Markings