FAQ - Removing old vinyl graphics and glue residue
Disclaimer.... You should be aware that damage can be caused by removing decals improperly and from badly painted surfaces. Any method you try or take from my own methods below is at your own risk!
Faded Paint around Decals
Sometimes you may have an old decal that you may want to remove, for example, you might want to rename a boat or spruce up your caravan or motorhome.
When removing old decals, bear in mind that paint fades over time. So if you remove a decal that has been in place for several years you will be exposing a surface that has been protected from the sun's rays. Let's say you have a red pane (red fades more than some other colours) and you remove a decal that has been on for 5 years. The patch under the decal will appear darker than the surrounding areas as the red paint around the decal will have faded in the sun.Â You can mitigate this by trying a cutting compound which may restore the faded paint.
Removing the decal
Older decals or poor quality decals will break up if they are not heated up before removal.
The safest way is to use a hairdryer. Heating the decal up will reactivate the glue and you should be able to carefully remove the decal in one piece. Professional vinyl fitters use hot air guns, but these produce a LOT of heat and can EASILY damage paintwork in the hands of someone not trained in using them.
There may be glue residue left after removal. You can tackle this with a tar and glue remover from an auto parts store, or you can use isopropyl alcohol. Follow the instructions for the brand that you use.
Once all the glue is removed, give it a clean over with some soapy water to remove any of the glue removers. If you are going to apply new decals in the same spot, do not use a wax-based cleaner, as this will prevent proper adhesion of your new decal.