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Waterslide Decals Not Sticking? 5 Common Reasons Explained

Waterslide decals are a popular choice for customising various items, from model trains and cars to guitars and ceramics.

However, applying them can sometimes be tricky, leading to issues with adhesion.

If you’re having issues with your waterslide decals not sticking, it’s likely due to one of the following five reasons:

5 Reasons Why Waterslide Decals Might Not Be Sticking

1. Inadequate Surface Preparation

Examples: Residual oils from fingerprints, dust particles, or old paint layers.

Explanation: The key to a decal’s adhesion lies in the cleanliness and compatibility of the target surface.

Any residual oils, even from fingerprints, can create a thin film that hinders the decal’s ability to stick.

Dust and microscopic debris act as physical barriers. Old paint or finishes may react unfavourably with the decal’s adhesive, leading to poor adhesion.

Thoroughly cleaning the surface with a suitable solvent and lightly sanding if necessary to create a slightly textured surface can significantly improve decal adherence.

2. Incorrect Soaking Time and Handling

Examples: Removing the decal from the water too quickly or letting it sit for too long, making it overly soft or fragile.

Explanation: The decal needs to be soaked in water for an optimal time frame, usually specified by the manufacturer, to activate the adhesive without compromising the integrity of the decal.

Too brief a soak might not fully activate the adhesive, while too long can lead to the decal disintegrating or becoming too delicate to handle without tearing.

It’s crucial to monitor the soaking process closely and prepare for immediate application once the decal is ready.

RelatedWe explain how to properly seal Waterslide Decals in this post.

3. Suboptimal Water Temperature

Examples: Using icy or boiling water for soaking the decals.

Explanation: The water’s temperature plays a pivotal role in the decal application process.

Cold water can prevent the adhesive from becoming sufficiently tacky, while excessively hot water might damage the decal’s design or integrity.

Lukewarm water, typically around room temperature, is ideal as it softens the decal enough for application without adverse effects on the adhesive or the decal paper.

4. Flawed Application Technique

Examples: Not using a soft rubber squeegee to remove excess water and air, leading to trapped air bubbles and uneven surfaces.

Explanation: The technique used during the application can make or break the final outcome.

It is essential to gently position the decal on the surface and use a soft rubber squeegee or a silicone brush to smoothly adhere the decal from the centre outwards.

This method helps in evenly distributing the adhesive and eliminating potential air pockets or water trapped beneath the decal, which could later cause peeling or bubbling.

5. Failure to Properly Seal the Decal

Examples: Neglecting to use a clear coat sealant or using an incompatible sealant that reacts negatively with the decal or substrate.

Explanation: Once applied, a decal needs to be protected and sealed against external factors like moisture, handling, and abrasion.

A clear coat sealant not only provides this protection but also enhances the decal’s appearance by giving it a glossy or matte finish as desired.

However, it’s crucial to choose a sealant compatible with both the decal and the surface material to avoid chemical reactions that could lead to discoloration, cracking, or peeling.

Looking for Quality Waterslide Decal Paper that Always Sticks?

If you’re looking for high-quality decals or waterslide paper so you can print your own decals at home, we have a number of products in our marketplace.

We have metallic silver or gold laserjet waterslide decal papers, film-free decal papers, laminated waterslide decal papers, and much more.

In Summary

The successful application of waterslide decals requires more than just a simple transfer process; it demands meticulous attention to detail at every step.

From preparing the surface to sealing the applied decal, each phase is crucial in ensuring the decal adheres flawlessly and enhances the item’s appearance.

By understanding and addressing these common issues, you can significantly improve the likelihood of achieving a professional and durable finish.

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