Flexible, durable, and affordable, vinyl is a popular option for building wraps, signs, and other graphical features. But not all vinyl is created alike. Two of the most common vinyl types used in our line of work are calendered vinyl and cast vinyl, and each has its pros and cons – and particular uses. Here’s what to know about each and when to choose one over the other.
Cast vs. Calendered Vinyl: What’s the Difference?
Cast and calendered vinyl have a lot in common, but the result is vastly different. Both are made primarily from PVC (polyvinylchloride), a type of plastic polymer. The manufacturing techniques, additives, and plasticizers that are used to transform the PVC into the vinyl we use for wraps, signage, and more are where the two differ.
Cast vinyl tends to resemble a thick, plasticky paint and is the type of vinyl often seen in car wraps. It’s produced by applying a liquefied polymer mix onto a moving casting sheet, then baking away the excess liquids in an oven until just the plastic remains. Cast vinyl is high-quality, flexible and durable, and delivers an appearance that looks like paint. Properly applied vinyl generally lasts 5-12 years.
The benefits of cast vinyl are:
- Less shrinkage
- Greater durability
- Molds to complex forms
- Color retention
- Small production runs are cost-effective
Calendered vinyl is made using similar materials to cast vinyl, but the production process differs. Instead of being cast onto a moving matrix, the mix is formed into a thin sheet via heated rollers in a process similar to pasta-making. Calendered vinyl is the type of thick vinyl often seen on individually lettered signs or window signage and can be produced at a number of price points. It can be highly durable in the right environment.
The benefits of calendered vinyl are:
- Easy handling
- Great for flatter surfaces
- Resistant to abrasion
- More affordable
When to Use Cast or Calendered Vinyl
You know that vinyl is the solution for your project, but you’re unsure whether cast or calendered vinyl is the better choice. Here are some basic guidelines for deciding between the two:
When to use cast vinyl:
- Signs on areas exposed to UV light
- Complex architectural wraps (think those with curves or complicated surfaces)
- Vehicle wraps
- Wraps of decorative items with complex forms that require the wrap to “stretch”
When to use calendered vinyl:
- Thick letter or shape forms such as on signage or murals
- Simple architectural wraps
- Floor graphics
- Interior window decals
Get An Expert Installation
At Manders, we’ve completed countless calendered and cast vinyl projects ranging from signage installation to complex wall wraps and floor signage. If you need an expert team to help you install vinyl for your residential, commercial, healthcare, or government building project – and to oversee the process, get in touch. We’re here to help!