Surface Prep Basics

The Importance of Surface Preparation

Surface preparation is a critical aspect to ensuring a successful bond when using single or double coated tapes. Many bonding failures are a result of unclean surfaces. Many people believe the adhesive is to blame, but if the surface is dirty, you will be sticking the adhesive to dirt, dust, grease or flaking paint.

Most surfaces are best prepared by cleaning with a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water. A mixture of 50% to 70% IPA and water. Exceptions to this general procedure that may require additional surface preparation include:

  • Heavy Oils: A degreaser or solvent-based cleaner may be required to remove heavy oil or grease from a surface and should be followed by cleaning with IPA/water.
  • Abrasion: Abrading a surface, followed by cleaning with IPA/water, can remove heavy dirt or oxidation and can increase surface area to improve adhesion.
  • Adhesion Promoters: Priming a surface can significantly improve initial and ultimate adhesion to many materials such as plastics and paints.
  • Porous Surfaces: Most porous and fibered materials such as wood, particle board, concrete, etc. need to be sealed to provide a unified surface.
  • Unique Materials: Special surface preparation may be needed for glass and glass like materials, copper and copper containing metals and plastics or rubber that contain components that migrate like plasticizers.

Once your bond is made, apply firm pressure 15 PSI (pounds per sq. inch) to enable the adhesive and surface to make good contact. This step develops better adhesive contact to improve bond strength.

Should you require a primer, 3M has 94 primer or an adhesion promoter 111 that can be used when working with difficult surfaces.