Why Framing?

Marketing messages are not permanent, but instead evolve over time. The optimum medium used to carry that message must be capable of facilitating these changes in a fast and economical manner.

This need is the premise behind the growing use of framing systems in fleet graphics, and why adhesive fleet graphics have passed maturity in the product life cycle and are on the decline. Traditional adhesive fleet graphics are not easily changed and are expensive to replace. However, when a framing system is used, only the frame itself is permanent while the vinyl signage it secures is easily and economically changed.

There are also many other reasons to choose framing versus adhesives. In making fleet graphics buying decisions, the following questions should be considered:

  • What does it cost to install and how long does it take?
  • What is the cost of removal and how long does it take?
  • What are the constraints on the installation such as weather and location?
  • What would it cost to change the message and how long does it take?
  • How good is the presentation, and how is this measured?
  • How long will it last, and is there a warranty?

MVGS Framing System & Sign Installation:
(1. Install Frame, 2. Slide on Sign, 3. Stretch Sign and Secure, 4. Finished Truck)

Installation Cost...

Cost is made up of materials, printing, and labor. The materials used in framing cost much less than those used in adhesives, while the cost to print is equal. Labor is further broken down into labor rate and labor time. Since adhesives application is a skilled trade (see PDAA & UASG trade association web sites), the training required increases the labor rate versus that of framing. Labor time of framing is cut in half versus adhesive application.

Installation Time...

Full coverage adhesive application of a 53’ trailer takes a 2-man crew 8 hours for a total labor time of 16 hours. One man can install framed signage on the same sized trailer in 4 hours. For large fleets, this time advantage becomes an operational consideration. 50 trailers would take a 2-man crew 50 days to apply decals, whereas the same 2-man crew could finish in 12 days.

Removal Cost...

Adhesive removal varies greatly depending upon material used, and age. The best-case scenario for full coverage decal removal is $1.00/square foot or $800 for a 53’ trailer and takes 8 man-hours. Professional tradesman must be used to minimize potential damage to the trailer surface. Framed signage removal is a do-it-yourself task that takes 15 minutes.


Adhesives installation and removal can only take place in temp above 50 degrees and humidity less than 80%. This constraint limits work greatly in all but the must moderate climates. Typically, an indoor environment is required. Framing can be done in any weather conditions where the equipment sits.

Changing the message...

To change the ad on a fully adhesive covered 53' trailer would take 24 man hours and cost several thousands of dollars. Since the level of expense is cost prohibitive, fleet graphics buyers are "married" to their adhesive message for the life of the truck. With framing, the change-out cost and time involved is dramatically reduced, making ad changes economically feasible.

Presentation quality...

Print quality, installed substrate appearance, and signage fit are all factors in measuring presentation quality. Normal viewing distance is commonly used is making these assessments. Trucks and trailers are typically seen at distances greater than 100 feet. At this distance only signage fit is discernable, and only then if the fit is very poor.

Product Life and Warranty

The life of the vinyl’s used in decals and framing are longer than the life of the transportation equipment it’s mounted upon (unless damaged). The life of the printing in an outdoor environment is the variable component that limits the life of fleet graphics. If properly laminated with a protective coating, most printers will warranty their work for 5 years, and some warranties extend to 8 years. The printer’s warranty is the same for decals or framing. The substrate also carries warranties against defects that run similar durations.

Durability against damage between the paper thin vinyl used in adhesive graphics, and the significantly thicker seamless tarp-like vinyl used in framing differ significantly. It is difficult to measure this difference other than to handle the materials yourself. Cost and duration to repair if damage occurs is another strong suit of framing. Vinyl’s can be quickly removed and repaired in most cases, whereas decals cannot and must be removed then replaced in 4 foot panels. Due to UV fade, the new panel seldom matches the existing adjacent panels and the quality of appearance suffers.