Best Time to Apply Vinyl Decals on Cars and How to Make Your Own Stickers Plus How to Remove Decals From Glass
Question: I purchased “brand X” wash and wax and need to know if there’ll be any problems if I apply vinyl decals to my car after I wash it or later when I wash over the decals?
Answer: This is a good question. I asked some of my colleagues in the business to see if my hunch was correct, because we have never worried about wash and wax products being used ahead of lettering or applying vinyl graphics to a clean vehicle, whether it was waxed or not.
Turns out there are varying opinions about this topic, but most agreed that waxing your car either before or after decals are applied won’t hurt the longevity or the decals ability to stick to your car. Although it might seem that if the wax was to heat up, it might soften to the point that the acrylic adhesive of the vinyl sticker might release from it, we are not talking about candle wax here, but car wax. It is formulated to be tough in all conditions, so it doesn’t really soften like a lit candle, which appears to be your concern.
As for washing and waxing your car post decal application, again, there is nothing in the wax that “attacks” the acrylic adhesive or the vinyl sticker material, so the wax probably simply adds a bit of protection to both the car’s paint and the decal. However, it might be wise to advise you that if you now remove the vinyl car decal(s), you will have an unwaxed area where the decal was, and you may need to purchase a wax removal product from your automotive supply store.
One expert suggested that you use the wax remover ahead of applying the decals if they were going to be on the vehicle long term, then wax over the works, car paint and stickers to protect all of the above. In the final analysis, though, there is no harm putting stickers on car wax or car wax on stickers. You can quote me on that.
Question: I want to make my own stickers for my car windows. How do this myself? What materials do I need and where can I purchase them?
Answer: You may be able to purchase vinyl sheets (8.5” x 11”) at a local office supply store and print them on your color laser or inkjet printer. If you have a laminator, you could probably increase the longevity of your sticker by laminating it. Otherwise, office-type inkjet printers are probably not going to have the type of ink you need for a long term sticker.
Since I have not actually printed a vinyl decal on an office inkjet printer, I cannot tell you whether it will work or not. Because we are able, with digital inkjet printers using exterior grade inks, to print “one off” prints, I’d say that if you’re not pleased with your results, contact a local banner or sign shop and most of these now will have 30” or larger digital printers and will be able to print your sticker design for you. This would give you a much better print and likely a longer lasting one as well.
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