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How Do You Restore RV Decals?

RV Decal Restoration Tips And Tricks

Unfortunately, RV decals have a tendency to oxidize, fade, and crack over time. This leaves RV owners looking for RV decal restoration options. 

The good news is there are ways to fix your RV decal problems. In this article, we will share our top tips for RV decal restoration, so you can get your RV looking nice and shiny for your next big adventure.

Use a cleaning product

One of the first things to try when attempting to give old RV decals their original shine is a simple cleaning product. Some RVers swear by 3M Marine Fiberglass Cleaner and Wax. Others say they’ve had luck with the individually packaged Rejuvenate restorer wipes or Max’s RV Vinyl Decal & Graphic Restorer

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All that said, you should use caution when using any cleaning product containing petroleum distillates. It can dissolve the decal adhesive, leading to bigger problems. 

Try wet sanding

Another option is to try wet-sanding the decals. Note that you should only attempt this if your decals are not cracking. 

To start this process, wash the decals with a mild detergent (Dawn dish soap and water works well). Next, grab a 1500-grit piece of sandpaper on a rubber sanding block, dip it in warm water for a couple of minutes, apply water to a small bit of the decal, and lightly sand the wet area. 

Fairly quickly, you should see oxidized pigment flowing from the area. This is your sign to move to the next area and repeat the process until the entire decal is finished. Wash the decal with clean water and allow it to dry. 

Once the decal is dry, it should appear uniform in color and feel very smooth. If this is not the case, start the process again. 

When your decals are looking good once again and are nice and dry, apply a quality wax over each one to protect them. 

Fill cracks with shoe polish

Do you have cracks in your decals? Some people have had luck touching up cracked decals with shoe polish. This isn’t a permanent fix, but it will last a few weeks. 

To do this, you will need to find a shoe polish paste that matches the color of your decals. Tape off the graphics, apply the polish to the cracks you wish to fill, let dry for an hour, and then buff out for a shiny new look.

Pull out the Plasti Dip or paint

For a more permanent fix, you could try Plasti Dip. This stuff is basically spray-on vinyl, so covering your decals with it is effectively just putting new decals over the old ones. 

Another option is Krylon Covermaxx spray paint and primer.

Be sure to tape the edges of your graphics and add a paper covering around the outsides of the graphics before spraying in order to protect the exterior of your RV. Once that’s done, just spray the stuff on for new, solid-colored RV graphics. 

Peel them off

Of course, you could just get rid of the decals entirely. This is a route many people have taken, and while it does leave the RV looking pretty bare, it is an improvement over severely cracked or faded decals that are beyond fixing.

To peel your RV decals off, use a heat gun or a hairdryer to heat one edge of a decal, and then use a putty knife to carefully peel the heated edge away from the RV’s exterior. Continue heating and peeling the graphic until it is completely removed. This is a job to be done slowly, so don’t rush it!

Invest in new decals

Once your decals are removed, you can of course leave the RV bare, but there is also the option of applying new decals. There are a few ways to acquire new decals for your RV.

Contact your manufacturer

If you want a copy of the decals that were on your RV originally, contact your RV’s manufacturer to see if they might have a set you can buy. Depending on how old your RV is, this is a very real possibility and would leave your RV looking brand-new all over again. 

RV Graphics Store

An excellent source of replacement decals is rvgraphicsstore.com. They have replacement RV decals for most major brands, and even a tutorial page.

Order custom graphics

If you can’t get the original decals or if you prefer something different, there is always the option of ordering aftermarket and even custom-made decals online. These can be found on sites such as Etsy, but are also available from certain small businesses such as Freak Decals, Graphics RV, and Jade Decals.

We love that this option allows you to give your RV a more personal touch. 

Make your own RV decals

If you want to ensure your RV is the only one of its kind, you could always opt to make your own decals. This is a bit of work, but it can be a lot of fun and will definitely make your home-on-wheels feel like your own. 

To make your own vinyl RV decals, you’ll need to order a roll of adhesive vinyl, cut the vinyl to the shape you want, and apply it to the RV. This article gives more details on how this process works. 

Protecting RV decals 

Once you’ve finished your RV decal restoration, you will want to ensure you protect your work and prevent future decal issues. The best product for this? We really like 303 Aerospace Protectant.

While we don’t recommend using 303 Aerospace Protectant on the fiberglass or aluminum siding of your RV, it does an amazing job protecting vinyl graphics from harsh sunlight as well as dirt, so they will last as long as possible. 

RV in the desert sun

There you have it: everything you need to know about RV decal restoration. Hopefully, these tips will help you get your RV looking good as new!

Track your RV maintenance

Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.

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