Decal Installation; My Way

I was working on my Commander this afternoon and among the chores was to “freshen-up” the billboards… remove some old decals and replace them. Below is a step by step of the process I employ and some helpful little tricks to get them on straight and smooth.

First step is obviously to decide where I want them, but I then make some measurements and using masking tape I clearly mark the spot; each piece marks each end of the decal. After I have clearly definded the spot, I then get a fresh piece of Wet n’ Dry 600 grit sandpaper and lightly “knock down” any little burrs, scrapes, or molding marks. You will see in these photos my little pieces of masking tape clearly marking the “spot”.

Then using 91% Alcohol (NOT 50% rubbing alcohol) I carefully clean the spot, making sure to leave nothing but plastic behind. FYI, that bottle of alcohol came from Wal-Mart for less than $2.


Then using a Sharpie and tape measure I find both the horizontal middle of both the decal (marking each end with a small mark)

and the layout lines on the boat to match up to those marks on the sticker. This way, there is no “eye-balling”….just line up the marks and it’s done.

After carefully peeling off the backing on the decal, I simply line up my lay-out marks and lightly “tack” down the decal, making sure it is straight with no wrinkles, tugging, or stretching. Then simply take a credit card and work out the decal from the center out to the edges.

After this, I take a smooth clean rag, and vigorously burnish the back of the waxy paper backing, making sure to generate alot of smooth even pressure, as well as a little heat.

The final step is simply to slowly, smoothly, and steadily pull the backing paper at an acute angle (see photograph) as a shallow angle of pull will lift the decal.

The outcome…

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4 thoughts on “Decal Installation; My Way

  • December 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm
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    Thanks for the tip.

    • December 31, 2011 at 11:03 am
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      Ha…yes, it is..

  • March 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm
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    I ran into some problems initially applying the vinyl cut boat registration numbers for my Malibu Stealth 14 kayak (yes, needed them because I use a Bassyaks motor). The Stealth has sort of a pebbly finish from the manufacturer (actually, it’s really pebbly), and the first attempt at applying these custom numbers didn’t work – they did not stick sufficiently.

    I ended up doing something similar to what’s described above but a bit more aggressive. I masked off the areas I needed to use for the numbers, then sanded them down with a small orbital sander and 3 degrees of varying grit sandpaper ending up with very fine wet/dry sandpaper. Then I removed the masking tape and cleaned the hull free of dust with a soft rag and alcohol as described above. Finally, and VERY carefully, I heated up the hull in the area where the numbers were to go with a propane torch – just barely licking the flames on the hull until it became slightly glossy. Then allowing it to cool, but still slightly warm to the touch I applied the numbers pretty much in the same manner as described above. I only recommend going this route if you have a hull with a lot of texture on it like the Malibu Stealth series do. You can also substitute a heat gun instead of a propane torch if your uncomfortable with using the torch, but either way – they key is gradual heating until just barely glossy. Finally, I went over the edges of all the numbers where they met the hull with a sealant provided by the company that sold me the vinyl numbers. I also did the same procedure with two sets of letters for my boat’s name. Came out very nice and I’m really pleased with it.

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