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Shrink Wrapping Basics

Installing shrink wrap is a series of logical steps with a bunch of common sense thrown in the mix. A professional shrink wrap cover can be created by following the tips listed below.

1. Always survey the items to be covered with shrink wrap before beginning shrink wrapping. Note any current damage with either a written check list or digital camera. Also look for hazards that could affect the shrink wrappers or the shrink wrap film. These could be sharp objects, potential slip areas, combustible materials or fumes. Be sure you have the proper equipment for completing the shrink wrap job before starting. This means all necessary personal safety equipment, ladders, man lifts, fire extinguishers, etc. Remember, unless specifically stated as being “Flame Retardant” on the label of the shrink wrap, shrink wrap can burn. If heat is applied incorrectly, shrink wrap can ignite into open flame. It can also drop down on to other combustible material and cause secondary ignition and fire. If at any time you observe the shrink wrap on fire, immediately address the issue. Then carefully inspect the area for a possible lingering fire. Inspect the cover for up to 30 minutes after shrink wrapping to look for hot spots. Keep a fire extinguisher available at all times.

2. Measure all areas to be covered by shrink wrap to assure that you have the proper size shrink wrap to cover the project in the fewest number of pieces. It is much easier to cover large objects in one piece of shrink wrap. Use the thickest shrink wrap possible on larger objects. If it is necessary to use two pieces of shrink wrap, then there must be an allowance of 8-10 inches of overlap where the shrink wrap pieces will be joined. Flame retardant shrink wrap is available for roofs, scaffolding, machinery, boats, etc.

3. Always have an attachment plan ready before taking the shrink wrap out of the box. Shrink wrap must be attached firmly around the entire perimeter for it to become a tight and durable cover. It can be attached by woven cord strapping, hull tape, steel cabling or furring strips - depending on your unique situation.

4. Keep the shrink wrap clean and folded as long as possible during installation (it comes center folded for easier handling, and will need to be unfolded as you dispense it). Shrink wrap heat welds to itself much better when it is clean - for seams and pleats (which are required to control excess gatherings, and to secure around strapping). Once the shrink wrap is unfolded, it is much harder to manage in case the wind comes up. NEVER SHRINK WRAP IN A WIND OVER 10 MPH!

5. Use Common sense. Don’t shrink wrap if you can smell flammable aromas, use all safety equipment necessary. Keep a fire watch at all times and inspect the shrink wrap job afterward to make sure there are no hot spots. Never shrink wrap over fuel vents, air vents on roofs, roof drains, air conditioning units, etc. Never drink alcohol before shrink wrapping. Don’t walk on the shrink wrap, especially when it is wet. Try to avoid walking on the shrink wrap even when dry, as before it is shrunk is when it is most susceptible to damage. If you need more reach, we offer a couple of shrink wrap guns with optional extensions:

6. Tight Shrink Wrap Covers are the most durable covers. Shrink wrap works much better than poly tarps because it does not move or chafe when properly applied and heated. The tighter the cover is, the better. Firm attachment points located around the entire perimeter of the shrink wrap are necessary to ensure the shrink wrap tightness comes from shrinking the wrap itself (this avoids having the edges pull in).