How to Put Custom Decals on a Car

You may not have ever thought of doing it but decals can add a nice custom touch to a car. Custom decals are available online and most sign shops can print them too. You can use them to jazz up your car or even for advertising your business. Think you might be interested? Here’s Browning Dodge’s guide to installing them.

1 – First, clean the outside of your car thoroughly. Make sure to do it in a cool location so soap scum doesn’t dry on the car. There are special cleaning solutions that you can buy just for washing cars and trucks. Looking at the paint surface from an angle, make sure you don’t see any streaks.

On windows, use isopropyl alcohol to remove any oils or other residue. Saturate a cloth with the alcohol then wipe down the window where the decal will be applied. Looking at the window from an angle, make sure you don’t see any streaks.

2 – If you are going to apply the decal to the car’s paint, you might want to consider a quick polishing. If you feel comfortable with an electric buffer, you might want to use one. If you don’t have an electric buffer you can polish the car with good car wax wax and a soft sponge. Apply the wax to the sponge and rub it on a small area of the car in a firm circular motion. Allow the wax to dry which takes just a few minutes. Use a soft cloth to buff the car until no wax residue remains and the area shines.

3 – Position the decals on the car and secure temporarily with genuine painters tape. (Do not use a stronger variety of tape as it may hurt the paint when removed.) If the decals are large, consider having someone help you hold them.

4 – Ready to apply the decals? Lift up them up and peel away the top edge of the backing. Press the exposed adhesive firmly onto the car. Then slowly peel away the rest of the backing in a downward motion, smoothing it out with your hand. Just run over any body edges, such as door gaps, window gaps, etc.

5 – Trim the decal away from the body edges of the car very carefully. Wrap the loose edges. This is best done with a steady hand and a razor knife.

6 – You will probably find that you have some bubbles under the decal. Don’t worry, you can smooth these out with a rubber spatula or a similar device. Slowly and smoothly press out the bubbles, maneuvering them to the edge of the decal until the air escapes and the bubble disappears.

A trick: Once the adhesive on the decal sticks to the car surface, you won’t be able to move it easily. A trick the pros use is to apply a thin layer of water so you can float your decal into position. Once your decal is where you desire, mark the location with the painter’s tape, blot the area dry with a clean towel and then apply it.


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