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How to Apply Car Decals Without Wrinkling Them Beyond Recognition

by Leanne Arnold on January 25, 2014  in Category_How To...Category_Vehicle Graphics

Many of us have admired the stylish or unique decals we have seen on other cars, but we are still hesitant to try them out ourselves. The only thing we can picture is a wrinkly mess stuck to the side of our car, the image completely lost in our poor application.

However, with the advancement of vinyl decals and some good instructions, anyone can achieve a professional looking application in their garages. No matter what the size of your project, if you follow some simple step-by-step instructions on how to apply car decals, you’ll be driving your new look in no time.

Window Decals

The most common decals you see on cars appear in on their windows, and this is the easiest place to apply them as there are no seams or creases to worry about. Before you get started, make sure you have your decal, some soap and water, rubbing alcohol, a lint-free cloth, and a credit card or squeegee.

1. Choose the day for your application based around the weather. You don’t want your car to be excessively warm or cold when you try to apply your decal as it won’t seal as well. Also, you want to avoid windy or humid days. Find a place where your car can sit protected from the sun while the decal’s adhesive finishes setting.

2. The key to a perfect decal application begins with good preparation and cleaning. Begin by giving your desired locations for your decals a good scrub with some lukewarm water. Remove any bugs that are stuck to the window: if you don’t, your decal will end up bumpy.

3. After a good wash, soak a cloth in some rubbing alcholol and wipe down your window. You want the surface of your window to be free from any oils or soap residue as those would cause your decal to loosen and peel off sooner. You can wipe down your window with your lint-free or microfiber clothe, which will dry the surface without leaving any new fibers behind.

4. Position your decal; remember that if you want to have two decals on both sides of your car, you’ll want to ensure that the location is the same on both sides. When you have your location picked out, use a small piece of painter’s tape to secure the top edge of the decal to the window. This will hold the decals location as you work the backing off.

5. Using a squeegee or credit, start at the top and press firmly on the decal in slow, downward motion. By doing this, you are sealing the vinyl to the car and remove any air bubbles in the process. Carefully rub the entire decal.

6. Carefully remove the backing with one hand while pushing down on the vinyl with the other. If the decal removes at all with the backing, go over the area again with the credit card and try again.

7. Once you have removed the backing, check you work to ensure that there are no bubbles. Vinyl adhesive is reaches its full-adhesion levels after 24 hours, so you have some time to adjust your work if anything went wrong in the process.

8. Let your vinyl decal set and after a few hours, you can hit the road in your newly decorated ride.

Car Decals

If you’re feeling like an additional challenge or you’re bored with your car’s exterior, you can also apply vinyl decals to the car body. While the process is similar to applying a window decal, there are few extra steps to complete for a professional-looking application.

1. Complete steps 1 and 2 from above, but then follow up the wash with a waxing. Waxing your car will smooth out any scratches and blemishes from your car’s exterior, giving the vinyl decal a smooth surface to stick to. Make sure to do your waxing out of the sun or you may end up with a layer of dried wax that will force you to start over.

2. Apply the decal using the same process as above, except make sure you use a squeegee or a rubber edged device to apply the decal. Avoid using hard metal or plastic edges like a credit card on your car’s body as it could damage the paint.

3. Just like before, let your decal set for a few hours, then go ahead and take her out for a spin. There you have it, with just a few easy steps, you can perform a professional application of your window or car decals and have a new, unique look for your car. Of course, for the first time users, it takes some practice, and if you’re applying a very large decal, an extra set of hands can be very helpful. Now all you have to do is choose the decal you want on your car. When you're ready to move to bigger and better decorations, give us a call.