how to remove rv decals

How to Remove RV Decals Yourself: 5 Easy Methods

When your RV decals are faded, they look downright pathetic. The graphics are distorted and the logo letters are half gone. And these things make your cherished rig look like a ghost from the 90s. So, it’s time to learn how to remove RV decals and restore its good looks. 

If you’re looking for some easy ways of removing RV decals without shelling out for the shop prices, we’re here to help. Keep reading to give your sad-looking rig a new lease of life. 

How to Remove RV Decals: 5 Easy Methods

We’ll share 5 tactics for you to learn how to remove camper decals. The old ones will disappear without a trace, depending on the type of camper exterior material and the method applied.  

Heat Gun for Cracked Decals

Heat gun is an excellent choice if you want to remove decals from fiberglass RV. It’s especially useful in removing old cracked decals from RV. Be gentle when doing the DIY work, so you don’t further damage the surface. 

Start by going over the cracked parts with the heat gun from about 6 inches away. Move it back and forth slowly so the decal heats up evenly. You don’t want to crisp it or the surface. After 30 seconds or so, test if an edge is lifting yet by nudging it lightly.

When a piece is loosening its grip, don’t be in a big hurry to peel it off. Go inch by inch and use your fingertips to loosen it. We sometimes help it along with the edge of a plastic card too. The goal is getting it off in one piece if you can. But even if it breaks, go section by section so it doesn’t shred further.

Patience is key if you want to ace the process of how to remove RV decals. Take your time warming each stuck spot before removal. 

Remove Decals with Steamy Heat

How to remove RV decals that just won’t budge? A basic steam cleaner works wonders for softening stubborn vinyl and glue. Heat will melt layers of adhesive apart, and the decal edges will come off of the camper’s body. 

Try to peel a decal sheet slowly. If lucky, the whole decal and residue lifts in one satisfying sweep. While results vary, steam often strips away leftover gunk too for an extra-clean surface.

Less mess means quicker cleaning time. So even if extra scrubbing is needed, steam makes light work. Just brush and rinse away the stream until not a trace remains on the surface.

how to remove rv decals
Photo: oksana.perkins / Shutterstock

Use a 3M Stripe Off Wheel for Stubborn Decals

For those really persistent decals that refuse to budge no matter what, we’ve found the 3M Stripe Off wheel to be a lifesaver. Want to know how to remove RV decals that won’t peel like normal? This is the solution. 

We especially rely on the Stripe Off wheel for removing decals from aluminum trailer. The metal surface means adhesives tend to bond super tough. But this wheel makes light work of even the most hardened graphics.

It easily attaches to any 3/8-inch drill for power and control. Just give the wheel a spin around 4,000 RPM, anything faster risks damaging what’s underneath. Then carefully glide it across the decal, allowing the rapid rotations to gently grind away the vinyl and glue.

A test run on hidden spots is always wise to avoid any accidental “paint stripping.” But on proper decals, a few passes leaves a clean slate. So, if normal methods leave you stumped on how to remove decals from RV, put some muscle behind it with a trusted 3M Stripe Off wheel. 

Manual Decal Removal

How to remove RV decals when you don’t have a heat gun or 3M stripe off wheel? Well, you can just peel them by hand. However, it’s not the easiest option and takes more time than other methods. 

What you have to do is find a corner where you can sneak a fingernail or plastic tool underneath. Once it’s lifting, take it slowly, inch by inch. Rushing will only cause some chunks left behind. 

Expect this method to take time. Multiple sessions may be needed as adhesive redeposits. We like to soften things further with adhesive remover between each. A steadied grip and relaxed pace also give you the best results.

Removing the Adhesive and Oxidation

You now know how to remove RV decals but your job is not done yet. Those decals leave behind glue, removing which can be a whole other obstacle. However, you can easily get a shiny surface with the right tools. 

Using steam or the 3M Stripe Off Wheel usually remove the adhesive too. But if the glue still sticks to the surface, you can use an adhesive remover to clean the residue. 

There are many products on the market, so choose one that is within your budget and has mostly positive reviews. No matter which product you pick, don’t forget to test it on a small area first. You must be sure that it doesn’t have any adverse effects on your RV surface.  

If everything turns out fine, use the remover on an area and let it sit there for a while. After that, use a plastic putty knife or something similar to scrape off the melted adhesive. With some elbow grease, everything will come off easily. However, don’t apply force because it may scratch the surface of your RV.

Don’t stop there though. Over time, graphics leave behind subtle weathering too. To restore your RV’s pristine luster, apply an oxidation remover next.

It buffs out surface discoloration lingering after decal removal. A few buffs transform worn patinas into as-new gloss.

So, while peeling stickers poses a challenge enough, these finishing moves make all your hard work truly pay off. 

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