Car Decals

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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In the last 20 years or so, car decals have almost replaced custom painted graphics as the car detailing method of choice. Currently, the trend is towards bright, easy-to-install vinyl decals and stickers. Many of the cars with custom paint jobs are classic models and vintage hotrods, as paint adds to the authenticity of their recreation.

The kind of car decals that are popular with racing enthusiasts now tend towards flashy graphics that accentuate the lines of the hood or the side of the car. Many are custom jobs that require complex installation, but some are relatively simple graphics that owner can do on his/ her own. Currently, many drivers choose to proudly display a roll call of the logos of performance accessory companies whose products are hard at work within the car.

Installing Car Decals

Most car decals are printed on thin sheets of self-adhesive vinyl. The vinyl is cut with the aid of a computer, and the scrap vinyl is then manually removed from the sheets. After scrap is removed, a thin film called transfer paper is applied to the top of the decal. The transfer paper will stick to the vinyl, but only enough to aid the installer in placing the graphic on the vehicle.

Many new kinds of vinyl are designed to be applied as easily as possible, including vinyl that reduces the possibility of air bubbles and vinyl that contains a pressure-sensitive adhesive, allowing even more give during installation. Once affixed, the decal requires relatively little maintenance. Most will handle normal wear-and-tear for as long as three years, and can be removed with little residue from either the adhesive or the vinyl.


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