There are two different ways to get off decals. If you’re willing to make a small investment ($17 as of August, 2019), you can get the ultimate sticker and decal removal tool. This is far and away the fastest and most reliable method.
Otherwise, we’ve got a DIY method with WD-40 and a hair dryer. We’ve found it works just as well for most decals—it just takes longer.
But, if you’ve got a ton of decals and might remove some in the future…Let’s just say we prefer the right tool for the right job.
Method 1: Use The Eraser Wheel
This method is really straightforward. Get the tool here from Amazon for $17 (August 2019). A few things to know:
- Designed to fit any home drill or pneumatic drill (universal arbor included)
- Don’t run it over 4,000 RPM
- Clean the decal and the surface around it with a wet rag/cloth. You don’t want the wheel to pick up anything that could scratch the paint.
- Run with the decal in longer swipes, back and forth (NOT with the wheel perpendicular)
- To get more use out of one wheel, use less pressure than you think (comes with experience).
- Experiment with RPM. We like 2,000 to 2,300 RPM, but that’s just us. Find what works for your stickers.
The Eraser Wheel works by rubbing against the surface, heating it up and pushing off the decal, in effect. It does not use abrasions to scrape off the decal, so the paint is protected.
Also, we found that some decals have adhesive—the sticky back side—that is tough to get off. Even with the Eraser Wheel, using something like WD-40 (see below) can help to get it off.
It Works On…
- vinyl stickers
- enamel paint
- urethane paint
It Works For…
- motorcycles & bikes
- trucks, trailers, & vans
- appliances (why not?)
Whew! That’s a lot of potential uses (and part of the reason we like this particular model so much). See it in action:
Quickly, be sure to wear protective gear when using power tools. Please do not use this tool on lacquer, plexiglass, or soft plastics.
We Do Not Recommend The 3M Stripe Off Wheel
Though it is a powerful, quality tool, we don’t like it as much the Eraser Wheel described above. First, it costs twice as much and the standard model only fits on a 3/8″ inch drill bit.
The second—more important factor—is that to purchase it on Amazon you have to certify you work for professional/commercial use. This is because they have to make sure you are aware of the safety information of the tool. In short…
Exposure to DUST generated from workpiece and/or abrasive materials can result in lung damage and/or other physical injury….Wear government-approved respiratory protection and eye and skin protection.Material Safety Data Sheet
I’m not saying taking the necessary safety precautions is unnecessary. It is! Always wear protective gear when using power tools. My point is simply that this tool requires you to verify you are professional/commercial for Amazon to sell it to you. It’s unnecessary when the Eraser Wheel is just as good at getting off old decals and ugly stickers.
Method 2 (DIY)
The free method to rv decal removal uses things you should have lying around your house (or in your RV), which means there’s no trip to the store. You can do this right now in 5-10 minutes.
- Blow dryer
If you don’t know what WD-40® is, you must be living under a rock (or an RV). But don’t worry! We got your back. WD-40® is one of the best and most common lubricants in the world.
“You only need two things in life: Duct Tape and WD-40®. If it moves and shouldn’t, use Duct Tape. If it doesn’t move and should, use WD-40®.”a wise handyman
WD-40 is an effective way to remove the sticky backs of the decals and stickers from RVs, cars, trailers, and everything else.
Fun Fact: Even if you’re an expert in WD-40, you probably don’t know what WD-40 stands for (Water Displacement, 40th attempt).
Blow Dryer / Hair Dryer
A blow dryer is a blow dryer. There’s not much more to say. The heat helps decrease the stickiness of the adhesive and makes it easier to pry off the decal.
3 Steps: Old RV Decal Removal On A Budget
1. Heat Up Decal
Use a hair dryer to warm up the sticker. Experiment with how long it takes, but all you’ll be doing is peeling it off once it’s loose enough. Straightforward.
2. Pull Off Gently
Peel. Steps 1 and 2 go hand in hand. As you work on heating it, continually pull and test to see how much heat it takes to get it off.
Once you get your fingers under the corners, it goes easier. Just try not to tear it off every few pulls! Speed is everything. Take your time.
Spray WD-40 on the spots where the sticker or decal once sat. Use enough that the spots are fully covered.
Wipe the WD-40 with a cloth or rug over the sticky area. Scrub as hard as necessary to get the sticky parts of the decal or sticker off. It shouldn’t take much.
See this method in action…
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Also, check out some of our other RV maintenance articles. Find our favorites.
Stickers and decals do not damage paint inherently. Most of the damage comes when/how you remove them. Be careful only to use heat, friction, or some other way to loosen the adhesive, not with abrasives or some kind of scraper.
Be careful only to use heat, friction, or some other way to loosen the adhesive. Do not use abrasives or some kind of scraper.
Our favorite tool for the job is the Eraser Wheel because it is cheap, easy to use, and gets the job done well and fast. It uses friction to heat the sticker and then peel it off from its rotational energy.
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