Decal Stickers: A Comprehensive Guide 

Decal or decalcomania is a piece of substrate that has a patterned print that may or may not be in the form of an image. The medium of the substrate can be either plastic, paper, cloth, or ceramic, depending on the need of the customer. As such, a decal sticker can be transferred from one surface to the other with the help of water or heat.  

What Does It Consist Of?  

A decal sticker consists of four layers, and here is a list of all the layers in order from top to bottom: 

  • The top layer is known as the film facestock on the upper side of which the printing of a pattern or an image is done.  
  • On the underside of the film facestock, an adhesive layer is applied, known as the backing material. 
  • The backing material is then layered with silicone or a release coating material.  
  • The bottom layer is lined with a paper or film liner.  

There are two kinds of decal stickers: water-dip decals and peel-and-stick vinyl stickers. The former has the film facestock attached to a water-soluble backing material that requires the user to dip the backing material into the water before its application.  

So once the backing material comes in contact with water, the adhesive loosens, allowing the backing to get detached from the decal. As a consequence of prolonged exposure to water, the backing material will dissolve completely, leading to a total disintegration of the decal.  

The latter, however, is not technically a decal sticker since it does have all the constituent layers that a decal has. The user must peel the backing off and stick it wherever needed, hence, the name “peel-and-stick”. 

How to Prepare the Surface Before Attaching the Decal 

Temperature Conditions 

So, what are the ideal conditions for decal application? The higher the temperature, the easier it is to apply the decal; this means that the temperature of the surface and atmosphere around it must be on the higher end of the thermometer. The optimum range of temperature that is ideal for application is 10°-35°. And as temperatures decrease, the adhesion will require a longer time to cure.  

No Surface Contaminants 

Surface contaminants can affect the durability of decal stickers and must be removed before application. Some typical surface contaminants are grease, oil, dust, rust, chalk lines, etc. 

How to Free the Surface of Its Contaminants 

One must wash the surface with a mild detergent dissolved in water. Make sure that the detergent is not cream-based. Otherwise, you risk leaving residues of the detergent on the surface.  

Then, wipe thoroughly with a lint-free cloth. Wipe the surface with isopropyl alcohol that will help you sanitise every nook and corner of the surface. Then, wipe with a lint-free cloth again to diligently remove the remainder of the contaminants. Your surface is now ready to mount the decal.  

Caution: Use gloves to protect your hands from the chemicals. Even if these chemicals are mild, prolonged exposure can cause your skin cells to lose all the water content, exposing the layers under the epidermis (outermost layer of skin) to sunlight and its harmful UV rays.  

Decals have a lifetime of one year and can be stored easily without worrying that you might damage them. The storage conditions can be optimised by storing them in a dry and clean area. Besides, the ideal temperature for storing decals is 20°, so make sure you store them tucked away from the sun.  

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