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How to Remove Vinyl Decals

Updated on October 15, 2012
How to I get this darn vinyl off?
How to I get this darn vinyl off? | Source

Vinyl decals are a great long-term advertising option for businesses with storefronts. Removing vinyl, however, can be difficult without the proper knowledge.Thanks to strong adhesive, decals are designed to hold on fast without budging. In reality, removal isn't too bad -- all you need is a little old-fashioned elbow grease and patience! Hopefully this hub will explain how to remove vinyl with ease.

Age matters!

It may seem like common sense, but how you approach vinyl decal removal depends on how old it is. If, for example, the decal has only been up for a few hours, removing it is going to be much easier than trying to peel off one that's been up for years.

For new decals installed within the last 24 hours, removing it from the window and re-positioning it should be pretty stress-free. Adhesive usually takes 48 to 72 hours to fully cure. You should have plenty of time to make adjustments to your installation just in case you installed it crooked or decide to move it to another window. However, before you go moving the decal onto every single window in your storefront, note that it's only recommended to attempt re-installation once. Vinyl decals are designed to be single use; move them around too much, and they'll lose their sticking power.

Since the adhesive hasn't fully hardened yet, you can gently pull the decal away from the windows without any other tools. Don't tug or yank. Be gentle and pull slowly. You don't want to accidentally tear it in haste. If you have trouble, don't force it. Grab a blow dryer or heat gun and apply direct heat to the decal to soften the adhesive before pulling it off the window.

How do I get old decals off?

Three words: Time and patience.

In some cases, decals stay up for six months. Others may be up for six years. With old ones, it's hard to tell how strong the adhesive still is. Different printing companies use different kinds of vinyl and adhesive, making it impossible to gauge an adhesive's strength.

The first method of removing a vinyl decal is to apply direct heat with a blow dryer or a heat gun. Make sure to use a focused heat source. Gradually the adhesive should loosen, allowing you to pull it off with some force. Heat will also help reduce the amount of residue left on the glass.

If heat doesn't seem to work for you, mix up a simple solution of rubbing alcohol and water (a 2:1 rubbing alcohol to water ratio works well) in a spray bottle. Spritz the solution all over the decal, making sure every part is saturated. The alcohol-water solution should loosen the adhesive, giving you the chance to pull up a corner. Once you get hold of a corner, begin to pull it away from the window (keyword: gently) while continuing to saturate the decal with the solution.

If you're still having trouble removing it, carefully use a razor blade to separate the decal from the window. Go slowly and keep saturating the vinyl with the alcohol-water solution until it is removed entirely.

Since decals cannot be re-used, don't worry if you end up tearing it a little bit. However, you should proceed with caution: you don't want to get too excited! Ripping the decal too often will cause you to have more work and leftover pieces on the window. Try to go slowly, and you'll be able to remove it in just a couple of pieces. Less mess = no headache.

For any remaining adhesive, using a remover such as good-ole WD-40 or Goo Gone will make it easy for you. Spray a towel with WD-40, and then hold the towel against the sticky areas of the windows. Count to ten, and voila! It should be easy to rub away the adhesive.

Once you've got the stubborn decal and any adhesive residue off, clean the window with a glass cleaning spray, and your window will be as good as new!

Final thoughts

Hopefully you found this hub useful for the next time you need to remove a vinyl decal from a window. Just remember to take it slow; a rushed job will only result in a bigger headache. Follow these steps, and you'll have a pristine window at the end.

Know of other ways to remove vinyl? Other tricks or tips? Let us know in the comments below!

Have you ever removed a vinyl decal from a window before?

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