RV stripes and graphics can make a plain RV look fabulous. And if they are painted on the RV you just have to maintain the painted RV surface.
But if the RV stripes and graphics are made from vinyl material they will eventually wear out. This is because the sun’s UV rays dry out and crack the vinyl exposing the adhesive underneath.
So how do you remove old RV stripes without investing a ton of time and energy? Well I am going to show you 2 methods of RV stripe removal that will make the job much easier.
Remove Old Stripes With Heat
If you try to remove old vinyl stripe material without heat, you are in for a difficult project. But if you use a heat gun like the ones often used to remove wallpaper, it gets much easier.
And it doesn’t have to be an expensive heat gun either. Even a cheap model will produce enough heat for the job at hand.
Just be sure to keep the heat gun moving to prevent problems. One problem is that you don’t want to damage the RV surface under the stripe. And you also want the stripe to become flexible enough to remove but not too hot where it almost melts.
But when you remove the stripe with heat, most likely it’s going to leave the old adhesive behind. And this is where the going gets really tough.
Many RVers use all sorts of products to remove the adhesive. Everything from mineral spirits to lacquer thinner. None of these products work very well so some just give up and use a razor blade instead.
But using a razor blade is almost impossible to control well. And it’s very easy to begin digging into the RV surface instead of just the adhesive.
But the professionals use products that work much better than these methods. And they are much easier on the RV surface.
For several years I have used a product called “Rapid Remover” by RapidTac. It is not made to remove the vinyl stripe, just the adhesive it leaves behind. And it does an outstanding job of that.
Just spray it on, wait a few minutes for it to soak in. Then remove the adhesive with a plastic squeegee and a paper towel. You can also use plastic blades but you have to be very careful if you do. It will still take some effort but nowhere near the poor results of other methods.
RV Stripe Removal With a Steam Machine
Another great way to heat up the old stripes and get them pliable enough for removal is to use a steamer. It can be just a regular household steamer to do the trick.
The idea is to run the steam nozzle over the RV stripe or decal several times in a small area. Eventually you will notice it becoming easy to pick up by the edge and remove.
There are many people who have done this kind of work that actually prefer the steam machine to the heat gun. Many feel that the steamer’s moist heat helps lift both the stripe material and the adhesive at the same time in many cases. Thus making the job much quicker.
The choice is yours but the heat gun is a much less expensive alternative to the steamer. So it may be best to try the heat gun first and use the steamer only if necessary. And you can probably rent a steamer and save the cost of buying it if the job is small enough.
Remove RV Stripes With A Decal Eraser Wheel
Another professional method for removing old RV stripes and graphics is to use a decal eraser wheel. These have been in use for several years now and they can make a difficult job much easier.
They will not only remove the vinyl decal but the wheel will also take off the adhesive at the same time. This makes it a real time saver!
The decal eraser wheel simply attaches to any household drill and uses the power of the drill to do its work. You can’t use it on plastic surfaces or painted aluminum, but it’s safe to use on most other painted metal surfaces. Just test on an inconspicuous painted area first, just to be sure.
This product alone can turn days of drudgery into a much smaller project in no time. If any adhesive residue is left over, the Rapid Remover product listed above can take care of that easily too.
If you have a very large stripe or decal it may still take a while to get through them. But the savings in effort and time will be very noticeable.
When To Remove Old RV Stripes And Decals
Unfortunately, I have seen many RVers wait until their old stripes and decals are heavily cracked and faded before doing anything. That is a big mistake!
When vinyl stripe material starts to crack and fade, the sooner you get it off the better. This is because as time goes on the vinyl cracks become worse and the pieces of material become smaller.
Then it takes much more effort to remove them no matter what method you use. So don’t procrastinate failing RV stripes and decals. Get them off quickly when it is obvious that they will need to be removed.
So it prevents the sun’s UV rays from doing much of its damage if you use it often enough. I recommend applying the product at least once a month on vinyl RV stripes and graphics.
If you do, you can extend the life of your RV decals considerably.
I hope you learned something valuable from this discussion of how to remove RV stripes and graphics that are old and peeling. And if you have any additional suggestions on how to take care of failing stripes and decals, please tell us in the comments below. Have safe and happy travels my friends!