Decal Removal Tips And Tricks

MAY 7, 2020| SpeedPro Shawnee



Out-of-home advertising, like advertising on vehicles, is affordable, consistent, and growing. It offers a return on investment of nearly $6 per dollar spent. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that custom-made decals are all over the place. But you won’t just find them on vehicles. They’re also common on walls, windows, and floors of businesses.

At some point, however, it will be time to remove those wraps, whether you want to replace one that is old and worn out or swap it out to advertise a new promo you’re offering. They might be on your vehicle, your windows, your floors, or your walls, but all pose unique challenges. Here’s our advice on removing your decals quickly and painlessly.


Supplies List

First, you need to get your supplies ready. Thankfully, decal removal doesn’t require much in the way of specialized equipment. Here are some of the things you’ll need.

  • A heat gun or hairdryer: Applying heat to the surface helps to break up the adhesive bond of the decal, but on most cars, too much heat can damage the paint. A heat gun will typically work on commercial truck bodies like that on a semi, but interior building walls and passenger vehicles may require something with less power, like a hairdryer. Use your best judgment and low heat settings.
  • A clean surface: Dirt and grime can make it more difficult to remove the decal and can interfere with your efforts to remove the residue afterward. Wash your vehicle, use some window cleaner on building windows or wipe down your walls or floor with a standard household cleaner before removing the decal.
  • Adhesive remover: Some decals will leave more goop behind than others, but you’ll want to remove any adhesive left over after you remove it. Grab a full-strength adhesive remover to help you.
  • Rags or towels: Of course, you’ll want something to wipe off the cleaner and adhesive.
  • Water and soap: A splash of soapy water on your rag will help make sure the surface is spotless.


Custom-made decals are common across many parts of and types of vehicles. You can find one-way coverings on the windows, simple graphics on the rear windshield, and of course, full or partial vehicle wraps. This versatility means that there are a few different materials that you might need to worry about when you remove a vinyl decal. When removed correctly, decals don’t typically damage the vehicle, but improper techniques could harm the paint or finish. Start with a clean vehicle and follow these steps to keep your finish in good condition.

  1. Heat up the decal. Briefly run your heat gun or hairdryer over the surface of the decal. If it is a large decal, you may want to work in sections, so it stays warm. When the decal warms up, the adhesive becomes much easier to remove. You might be able to skip this step if your decal isn’t particularly large or hasn’t been on its surface for too long.
  2. Peel it off. Use your fingers or something like a plastic card or putty remover to peel up the edges of the decal. Don’t use anything sharp that could damage the paint. Once you can grab onto it, it should separate from the vehicle pretty easily. Use a side-to-side motion as you pull.
  3. Use your adhesive remover. Put the recommended amount of adhesive remover on the area and rub it around with your rag. Follow the instructions and leave it on for the specified amount of time, usually a minute or so. Then, wipe it down with soap and water, and you should have a clean area where your decal used to be.

For large vehicles, be prepared to use some elbow grease. It can take a bit of muscle to get big decals off.


If that doesn’t work or you don’t have a heat tool or adhesive remover, try these tricks.

  • Use warm water: Instead of a heat gun, grab some hot water and soak it onto the sticker like a temporary tattoo. You can also boil some water and pour it over it. Both methods should help loosen the adhesive.
  • Use nail polish remover or a razor blade on windows: If you’re removing a decal from a window, try putting nail polish remover on it. Remember that it can damage the paint if used on the car body. That concern also applies to razor blades, which can help you peel a sticker up off your window, but not your car itself.


Buildings introduce a similar problem with vinyl decals. You may have a small logo on your window, a directional arrow on the floor in the lobby, and a large version of your logo on the lobby wall. Each of these placements proposes a new material that you don’t want to damage. Fortunately, the process is pretty similar to removing decals from vehicles, with a few subtle differences.

  • Walls: When taking a decal off the wall, you’ll want to use a hairdryer. Heat guns often get so hot that they damage the paint. Also, try removing residue with soap and water before using adhesive remover. If you do need to use a remover, test it out on a small, inconspicuous spot, so you know it won’t damage your paint.
  • Windows: Many building windows run the risk of shattering due to heat or excessive force, so they require a little more care. Heat guns can cause a concentration of heat that breaks the glass, so try to remove the decal without using heat first. Building windows may be much larger than car windows, so pulling with excessive force toward the center of the glass could be enough to break it. One way around this is to score your vinyl with a liner cutting tool that won’t cut the glass. Break it up into strips, so you aren’t putting as much force on the entire panel at once.
  • Floors: Floor graphics are pretty simple to remove, but you may want to opt for the heat gun here and pull it up slowly.


Wherever you want to place your custom vinyl decal, you can avoid removal problems by using a high-quality decal designed for your intended surface. At SpeedPro Shawnee, we offer a wide variety of decals, from full-fleet vehicle wraps to floor graphics and wall and window coverings. A custom-made decal lets you put your brand in front of more people and in the places it matters most. When guests walk into your office or sit behind a truck in your fleet in traffic, a decal greets them with your company’s information and advertising efforts.

Ready to boost your brand’s image with custom decal printing? Get in touch with a SpeedPro representative today.

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SpeedPro Shawnee

Studio Owner

Jeff Quast