how to remove rv decals

How to Remove Old Ugly RV Decal By Yourself

All in all, RVers put details on their rigs for a wide range of reasons from aesthetics to political allegiance. That being said, considering the extensive exposure to outdoor elements, it’s only a matter of time before RV decals fall apart and require removal.

Since RV decals lay on the exterior of vehicles, mistakes in the removal of decals may damage the paint as well as the exterior material. Because of that, once it comes to removing decals from RV, camper owners could only achieve optimal results if they understand what must be done. Assuming that you know how to remove RV decals, you should be able to get rid of the decals on your rig with relative ease. Otherwise, there is a very good chance that you would receive an expensive repair bill.

Removal Of RV Decals: The Surefire Solutions

Regarding RV decal removal, more than one way exist but in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, a number of methods stand out from the rest: 

Remove RV Decals Using Heat 

For your information, modern decals for RV stick to the surface of vehicles using adhesives so if you neutralize the adhesives, decals automatically detach themselves. The fact that adhesives don’t handle high temperatures well means heat is going to work wonders during the removal of decals on travel trailer.  

To heat up the decals, you could park your rig out in the open so it’s exposed to sunlight. In addition to that, you always have the option of using a hairdryer to blow hot air against the decals. If you also possess a hot gun in your inventory, feel free to use it. Still, no matter what source of heat you use, keep in mind that too much heat may compromise the paint and material of the exterior. 

Adhesive Removers 

Besides heat, adhesive removers excel at neutralizing adhesive that holds the decals on the exterior of RV in place too. Nowadays, RVers have an easy time getting their hands on products such as Goo Gone, Goof Off and so on. For good measure, it’s strongly recommended that you follow the instructions of manufacturers while applying adhesive removers to decals. Wear personal protective equipment (respirator, goggles, gloves, etc) to prevent chemicals from touching your body. 

Peel The RV Decal Using A Putty Knife 

In the case that even chemicals cannot tackle the decal adhesive, you have to use something more forceful: putty knife. Thanks to the thin profile, putty knife is able to get under old decals and detach them from the exterior. However, you need to be careful here: putty knife remains a sharp tool that would scrape the exterior of your RV if you let it. Moreover, if you fail to maintain control over the putty knife, it should tear through the decals instead of removing them and that is messy. 

Eraser Wheel

To put it plainly, eraser wheel is an accessory that allows RVing enthusiasts to “erase” decals from the vehicle exterior. For most of the time, all you need to have to take advantage of eraser wheel is a power drill. Plug in your drill, attach the eraser wheel to it and proceed to work on the decals of your rig. To avoid damaging the exterior, it’s suggested that you run the eraser wheel in long swipes back and forth. 

removing decals from RV
Source: Dispersed Camper Man

Tips And Tricks For Removing Decal 

Overall, if you master the techniques for how to remove RV decal, you should have no trouble detaching decals from the exterior of your rig. That being said, for smooth decal removal, you need to memorize the advice down below. 

Be Patient 

The removal of decals is a dedicated process and rushing it only leads to extra troubles in the long run. Thus, it’s essential to be patient from start to finish to get the decals on the exterior off cleanly. It’s wise to schedule the decal removal on a day that you have a lot of free time so you don’t feel pressured. Finally, switch between methods if you fail to get the result that you look for. 

Safety First 

While removing RV decals, you have to work around heat, electricity, chemicals, tools and others. With so many sources of injuries nearby, it’s imperative to make safety a priority. Throughout the removal of decals, it’s best to keep personal protective equipment on you. In the case that you need to remove decals up high, ensure that you position a ladder on even ground. 

Take Breaks 

If you only put several decals on your rig, you would be able to remove them all in one setting. Nonetheless, if you cover your RV in decals, you must take a break every now and then during decal removal. Trying to remove too many decals at once usually increases the possibility of mistakes and puts the exterior of your rig in harm’s way.  By taking breaks, your body and mind should get a bit of time to recover which contributes to the success of the removal of decals. 

FAQs About Removing RV Decals

1. When should I remove my RV decals? 

Various factors affect the conditions of RV decals but you have to consider removing your RV decals if you notice one of the followings 

  • Cracking And Chipping: In general, prolonged exposure to UV rays, salt, moisture, … could make decals develop cracks and chips as time passes by. Once it comes to cracking and chipping on decals, people have no other choice but to get rid of the decals at the earliest opportunity. If you neglect cracked and chipped decals, not only the aesthetics of your RV would suffer but also cause a couple of issues in traffic. Therefore, after embracing RVing, you need to learn how to remove decals from RV so you can set up new decals in times of need. 
  • Fading: Next to cracking and chipping, fading is one of the common problems that impair the way RV decals present themselves. In the case that you don’t replace faded decals, your rig is going to look older than its age. Depending on the situation, faded decals sometimes create a lot of issues including reduced resale value, out-of-date appearance, … That is why if decals on your RV start fading, you need to find their replacements as soon as possible. 
  • Ugly: Upon purchase, a multitude of travel trailers show up with stock decals here and there. Though some of such decals don’t look too bad, a few fall below the standard of today’s RVers. If you find the stock decals to your liking then you could leave them alone. On the other hand, if the stock decals seem unattractive to you, it’s a good idea to replace them. Usually, the replacement of stock decals would wrap up in no time if you know how to remove RV decals

2. Is it possible to remove adhesive residues?

Regardless of the method you use to remove old decals from RV, you likely spot adhesive residues in the end. Unless you take care of the residues, the installation of new decals could experience troubles. 

To deal with adhesive residues, you may choose from three approaches: mechanical, chemical and thermal. In the mechanical approach, you use a combination of tools to scrape the residues which require significant time and effort. If you go for the chemical approach, you resort to particular chemical solutions like adhesive removers to tackle adhesive residues. Last but not least, for the thermal approach, you make use of heat to remove the residues on the exterior. 

3. How to remove decals from fiberglass RV?

Sturdy and stable, fiberglass is capable of handling everything that the outdoors throw at it. Nonetheless, if you wish to remove decals from fiberglass surfaces, it’s widely advised that you go through these steps 

  • Step 1: Wipe clean the surface 
  • Step 2: Press a towel soaked in vinegar against the decals 
  • Step 3: Wait for a bit 
  • Step 4: Remove the towel and peel away the decals 
  • Step 5: Use the towel and vinegar to remove adhesive residues 

4. Do decals damage the paint over time?

In layman’s terms, decals as well as their adhesive don’t change the properties of paint in any way. As a result, you could stick as many decals on your rig as you want. However, if you know little about how to remove RV decals but still conduct decal replacement, the odds of paint layers getting damaged inevitably spike.

5. What must be done to protect RV decals? 

Everything including decals eventually fails and that is why you have to learn how to remove decals from travel trailer in preparation for decal failures. That being said, if you implement a number of measures, you may extend the longevity of decals on your RV. For instance, by waxing the decals with petroleum-free waxes, you can add a layer of protection against outdoor elements. Also, you should think about covering your rig in a purpose-design RV cover outside of use to minimize exposure. 

Last Updated on November 27, 2021

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