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Reflective Vehicle Vinyl – Uses and Benefits

Reflective vinyl is a specialty vinyl and is widely available in the market. Reflective vinyl are used to make custom signs as they can be cut into any desired shape and can be applied to most glossy surfaces. Commercial signs made with reflective vinyl are different from standard vinyl as the reflective metallic base results in reflecting back the light, this is especially noticeable at night. Reflective vinyl are used for many road and street signs.

vehicle with reflective vinyl graphics

Reflective vinyl is also used on police cars, fire trucks, emergency trucks and ambulance. This permits the decals to be prominent during night-time. Reflective vinyl provides a number of benefits and all decisions must be made only after the uses are considered.


  •  Increased visibility after the sun sets. They also have an extra benefit of night-time advertising.
  • They make excellent signs affixed to the business parking lot after dark.
  • The practice of reflective striping is extremely useful when it comes to making the tractor trailers visible at night.
  • It is the best solution to public signage which is required to be visible at night-time.

The design process is the same as that of standard signage. You can design on your preferred software and send the graphic to the design company.

Reflective vinyl install on a truck

The Basics

The material is available in a number of limited colours that can be applied as stripes or cut to form letters. It is also available as a printable material. The colour gamut is smaller than standard vinyl but the range is capable of depicting most logos.

The material’s properties cannot be appreciated during the daytime. It is designed particularly to be visible during night when the material is hit with artificial light from motor vehicles or street lights. This reflective property makes the road signs legible after the sun goes down. There is no need to spend money on electric illumination. Due to this, there could be a colour shift when you view reflective vinyl in a number of settings. To give an example, white reflective is white only at night. It appears pearlescent or a little grayish during the day. The black reflective appears brownish when light is reflected from it after dark.

Reflective vinyl install on a box truck

Types Of Reflective Vinyl

There are different grades of reflective vinyl. It comes in two basic varieties: prismatic and retro-reflective. The two varieties can be further fragmented into different grades and types as determined by their reflective properties and construction.

Retro-reflective can be crafted with a mix of glass beads and pigment applied to the base film. The embedded beads simply reflect the light back towards the viewer when it is illuminated. Thus the retro-reflective film can also be termed as beaded reflective. The embedded beads make these sheets harder to cut compared to standard vinyl.

Prismatic reflective films are manufactured by laying a series of small prisms in the base film. If closely inspected, they would appear like minuscule pyramids in vinyl. Similar to a prism splitting and reflecting light, the prismatic reflective film simply reflects the light back through face film towards the viewer.

These dense layers make the prismatic reflective sheeting harder to cut compared to retro-reflective film. A few brands can be only be cut using special blades and increased amount of force. The notable advantage of using prismatic film is that the prismatic cells’ sides bounce the light back at a wider angle. The result is that more light is reflected back to source and makes this light more visible from wider viewing angles. It is thus specifically useful in making highway signs.

Contact a professional sign company to investigate how reflective vinyl can help your business be seen at night or how to improve the safety of your personnel.

Posted in Vehicle Wraps



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