October 29, 2020

How To Remove, Restore or Replace Faded or Cracked RV Decals

Faded or cracked decals are a clear sign of an RV’s age. The good news is that there’s something you can do to restore the look of your RV. Here are three options:

  1. Remove the decal
  2. Remove and replace the decal with a factory or aftermarket decal
  3. Restore the decal without removing it

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How to Remove a Faded or Cracked Decal

If you’d prefer the look of having no decal, removing the old one is a good choice. I prefer this for large branding decals that manufacturers put all around the RV.

To get the job done, all you’ll need is a heat gun (a hair dryer works), some goo remover like WD-40, and a lot of patience.

When the decals on my RV started to peel and crack, I removed them using my wife’s hair dryer and some WD-40. I only wish I would have removed them sooner. This video will show you how I did it.

Step 1: Heat up the decal

Starting at an edge, heat up the decal using a heat gun or blow dryer. Heating up the decal loosens up the adhesive underneath making it easier to remove

Step 2: Slowly peel off the decal

The operative word here is “slowly”. Using steady pressure, gently peel away the decal. When it starts to get difficult or tear, apply more heat to loosen it back up.

This step requires a lot of patience. It’s easy to jump the gun and start peeling the decal away faster. You’ll quickly realize that won’t work.

Very old graphics may not peel away easily. If this happens, a 3M Stripe Off drill attachment may be needed. Here’s a link to the 3M Stripe Off Wheel on Amazon.com.

Repeat this process of heating up the area and peeling away the decal until it’s completely removed.

Step 3: Remove left over adhesive

The last step is to remove any left over sticky residue. You could certainly use products like GooGone to remove any leftover adhesive, but I’ve found that WD-40 works very well for this.

Repeat these steps on all of your decals then give the surface of your RV a good cleaning. You’ll like the result.

If your RV is older, you may be left with an outline of the old decal. This will depend on the age of your RV and level of oxidization. Apply a healthy coat of Meguiar’s Oxidation Remover RV Wax with a buffer to even out the appearance of the decal. It may not completely remove the outline but it should give you a pretty good result.

How to Restore a Faded or Cracked Decal

You may prefer the original look of the decal and don’t want to go through the hassle of removing it. In that case, you can try and restoring it by priming and painting it.

This will be a meticulous process of preparing the area and applying multiple coats of primer and paint. If you do a good job, the result will be great.

Here’s an example of the kind of result you can get painting over your worn or cracked decal.

How to Replace a Faded or Cracked Decal

When replacing a decal on your RV don’t remove the decal right away. Here’s why. Whoever you order the replacement from will probably need at least a photo and some measurements to replicate the color, design and dimensions of your old decal.

Where can you find replacement decals for your RV?

  1. Try contacting your RV manufacturer. They may have replacement decals for your make and model of RV. If you have a unique color or really want the stock material, then this may be your best option.
  2. Your second option is to contact a local or online sign shop that designs and sells vehicle wraps. They will be able to design and print a decal that matches the original.

With your new decal in hand, your next step is to remove the old decal (using the process outlined earlier). Finally install the new decal under the guidance of the company who provided it to you. They will know best how to achieve the best result.

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