RV Decals Removal And Replacement Guide

RV Decals removal and replacement

RV decals removal and replacement is an important subject for many RVers.

This is because RV decals can make a huge difference in the appearance of an RV.

They can take an otherwise plain RV exterior and transform it into something that is eye-catching.

So its no wonder that lots of RV owners like to dress up their rig with RV decals.

And many RVs come from the factory with an RV stripes and graphics package already installed.

But over time decals can fade, crack and begin to peel off the RV exterior. And this mars the whole appearance of the rig.

RV decals removal - fading and cracking
This is how RV decals can fade and crack

So this guide is about RV decals removal and about RV decals replacement too. Let’s start with removing RV decals.

Table of Contents

RV Decals Removal Using Heat

Most RV stripes and graphics are made from vinyl material with an adhesive on the back. So there is actually two parts of the decal.

And if you try to remove the decals by hand without applying heat, you will often have a hard time. Sometimes they can be pulled off without heat, but it’s rare.

So a time tested method of RV decal removal is to use a common heat gun. In fact, it can be a heat gun like many people use to remove wallpaper.

The trick is not to get the heat gun too close to the material or the RV surface. But you want it close enough to heat the decals for removal.

And you want to keep the heat gun moving to prevent applying too much heat in one area.

After a few tries, you will begin to find the right distance that works best for decal removal. And you will learn how fast to move the heat gun too.

Your goal is to get the decals heated up so they are flexible enough to remove. But you don’t want to get the RV stripes and graphics so hot that they melt.

RV Decals Removal – The Adhesive

Now you may find that the decal itself comes off fairly easily using a heat gun.

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But most of the time, the adhesive that held the vinyl graphic onto the RV will be left behind. And this is where the task gets much harder in many cases.

There are all sorts of products that people use to remove adhesive. Some of these include mineral spirits and lacquer thinner.

Of course, any chemical needs to be tested on the RV surface before use. That way you don’t remove or mar more than the decal itself.

And after testing, these chemicals often do work enough to get the job done. But it will be hard and difficult going in many cases.

So a lot of people will get frustrated and start using a razor blade to remove the decals instead.

In the hands of a skilled professional, this may be possible without marring the surface. But the use of a razor blade on decal adhesive is very tricky.

If you aren’t extremely careful, the blade can dig into the RV surface and leave gouges behind. Then you have an even worse problem to repair than just peeling decals.

So are there better solutions to RV decal removal other than the methods I just described? Yes, and lets discuss how to remove RV decals easier.

Better Adhesive Removal Methods – Rapid Remover

I have installed and removed RV stripes and graphics many times over the years. And I have found a product that makes adhesive removal so much easier.

It’s called Rapid Remover and it is made by a company that specializes in vinyl installation and removal. You can view the product by clicking here now.

Rapid Remover for decal adhesive

If you read the reviews of this product you will see that it works very well for most people.

You just spray it on the adhesive, and let it sit for a couple of minutes to soften it up.

Then you can remove the adhesive fairly easily with a plastic squeegee and a paper towel.

And the good news is that it does not damage the RV surface under and around the decal.

Now it will still take effort to remove the adhesive residue with Rapid Remover. But nowhere near as much work as mineral spirits or other chemicals.

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Better Adhesive Removal Methods – Steam

Another method for removing old and peeling RV decals is the use of steam. In fact, a common household steam cleaner can do the trick nicely.

Just move the steamer wand over the decal several times. You will eventually notice that the decal starts to soften up.

At this point, you can often pick up the edges of the decal and pull it off. And in many cases, a large chuck of the graphic will come off too.

One of the best advantages of using steam is that the adhesive often comes off with the decal. This doesn’t always happen. But often enough.

So of course, that makes the job of decal removal so much easier. It really shortens the job time when both the decal and the adhesive comes off together.

But even if that doesn’t happen, the decal removal is very simple and easy to do with steam.

If you don’t have a steam cleaner, they can often be rented locally. But if you want to get one, here is an inexpensive steam cleaner that I can recommend for the job.

Steam cleaner for RV decal removal
Steam cleaner

Better Adhesive Removal Methods – An Eraser Wheel

The methods we have covered so far for how to remove RV decals are best for small jobs.

But what if you have lots of decals and stripes and graphics that need to be removed?

Well, I often faced this situation on RVs that I worked on to remove decals.

Many professional vinyl graphic installers use a product to help get the job done more quickly. And that is an eraser wheel. You can view it here.

Eraser wheel for removing RV decals

These decal eraser wheels attach to a regular drill and uses the RPMs of the drill to do its work.

It is also a product that can remove both the decal and the adhesive at the same time. So its a big time saver.

You just spin the wheel with the drill. Then apply the wheel to the decal as it is spinning.

The wheel will begin to grab the vinyl and the adhesive off the surface of the RV. And it usually flakes off and away from the RV.

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This kind of method is safe for most painted surfaces. But don’t use it on anything plastic or aluminum areas.

I recommend that you test it first on an inconspicuous spot to make sure it doesn’t mar the surface. Then you can use it with confidence.

The use of an eraser wheel makes a difficult job so much easier. And it is well worth the time saved on a big job of RV decal removal.

RV Decal Replacement

What I have covered so far is RV decal removal. But when the decal is removed, most likely you will also need to replace it.

On RVs, this can be tricky. Very often, the sun has oxidized the exterior surface around the decal. So when you remove the decal, you can still see the outline of where it was.

This means that you will probably need to go back with the same decal that you just removed. That is, if you want to restore the RV exterior to “like new” condition.

So the first step in RV decal replacement is to find someone who can make that original RV graphic.

Fortunately, I know someone who can fit that bill nicely. I have known him for many years and he is able to help you get the RV decal replacements you need.

The company is Florida Applied Films and the owner’s name is Shayne. Just give him a call and let him know what you want to do to replace your RV decals.

Very often, if you have a picture of the decals on your RV, he can match the colors and size.

And if you are in the central Florida area, he can install the decal package for you too. But if not, he can ship the RV decals to you.

An example of RV decal replacement replacement on an Alpha RV

RV Decals Installation

RV decals removal is one thing. But RV decals installation is another entirely.

Very often RV stripes and graphics are very large. And that makes sense. Because if you put small decals on the side of a big RV, it just gets lost.

So what that means is that RV decals often require more skill to install than most RV owners have.

How To Install RV Decals

If you do decide to self install the decals though, I have a few suggestions for you.

  • Clean the are where you will apply the decals thoroughly.
  • Fit the decal to the surface first and mark an outline where you want it placed on the RV
  • Then remove the decal backing and spray it with a solution of 5 drops of dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle of water
  • Thoroughly wet the back of the decal where the adhesive is
  • Having someone help you, apply the decal to the spot that you outlined on the RV
  • Keep adjusting the decal until it is perfectly in place. If this takes a while, pick up one side of the decal and spray more solution behind it. Do this for the whole graphic. Keep it well lubricated this way while you work with it
  • Once it is in position, use a plastic squeegee to remove the solution behind the decal. Start in the middle and work out to the edges
  • When the solution is removed, take off the decal cover on the front if it has one
  • If there are any air bubbles pop them with the point of a pin

Custom RV Decals

After RV decal removal, you may decide though to change the whole design of your RVs stripes and graphics.

If you do, Shayne at Florida Applied Films can help you with that too. He can work with you to come up with a design that fits your RV.

It’s not uncommon that people like yourself may want unique RV decals instead of the factory replacements.

So working with someone who knows about RV decals is a good way to do that. They have the experience to help you find what will work best for your rig.

And a unique RV decal scheme can set your RV aside from all the others like it.

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The Best Wax For RV Decals

After RV decal removal and replacement, you need to make sure that your new decals will last.

The longer they last, the less trouble and expense you have to go through to replace them.

And the worst enemies of any vinyl decal is the sun and the elements. In fact, UV rays from the sun can break down RV stripes and graphics very quickly.

And constant exposure to the outside elements also has a weathering effect on decals.

So you need to use products that slow down this wear and tear that your decals experience.

First of all, I recommend that you wash your RV regularly, not just every now and then. This is important to keep the vinyl graphics clean.

I wrote an article on how to do that easily and quickly. And you can read that article here.

Then use a wax product that can help seal out the effects of the elements. And apply a UV inhibitor regularly to slow down the harmful effects of the sun.

So what is the best wax for RV decals then? I mentioned it in the article I just referenced. It’s call Meguiar’s Ultimate Fast Finish. And you can view it here.

This product will help protect your decals for many months. But I also recommend using 303 Aerospace Protectant as a UV inhibitor too.

Best wax for RV decals - Meguiar's Ultimate Fast Finish

For me, the use of these two products together is the best wax for decals that you can get!

Conclusion

So this guide has covered both RV decals removal and RV decals replacement.

I’ve showed you how to remove your decals in various ways. Just choose the one that works best for you and your RV.

I’ve also shown you how to get RV decals replacements that look just like the factory ones.

And I also discussed how to get custom RV decals and unique RV decals as well.

And finally, you now know how to use the best wax for RV decals to make them last as long as possible.

Have safe and happy travels in your RV with beautiful stripes and graphics!

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