Can I Clear Coating Car Decals?

clear coat car decals
Car Decals

Can I Clear Coating Car Decals?

Car decals will exposure to the outdoor environment most of the time. With time you will see the edge peel off and the vinyl will crack. Unfortunately, there is no magic product on the market right now to make cracked vinyl look new again. (Though we have some methods to restore the faded vehicle graphics.) Some people may think to add a protective coat over it, such as a clear coat, so can you clear coating car decals?

clear coat car decals

Vinyl decals were never intended to have a clear coat put on top, as far as we can discover within product specifications. However, many people have tried this way with great success.

Most people consider that the decals will last longer because of having a coat of clear paint or lacquer applied over them. Is it true? Well based on our experience, unless it’s absolutely necessary, we see there is no reason to clear over the top of vinyl decals.

Because our vinyl decals and graphics have great durability. Most of the vinyl we use is 3M vinyl with a 5-7 years outdoor lifespan. And we will add an overlaminate to provide further protection for the graphics.

Reasons you might want to clear-coat over decals:

– The driving environment is terrible. For example, if you will be driving your vehicle deep into the mud daily, then clear-coating could add a second layer of durability.
– Add more pristine uniform gloss to your decal.
– Protect some details or sharp corners such as rim caps, or die-cut vinyl decal, that might otherwise catch on its sharp corners.
See example pictures below. For die-cut decals or vinyl lettering, the fine points, tips, or edges of the decal could catch on the rag you use to wipe and clean—if done very often this matters more, plus the fine amount of detail in the particular design. Or if a pressure washer is used frequently and directly to these very intricate decals, then you might want to explore the option of clearing over the decals.

clear coat over vinyl decals

NOTE: Always test a sample of your clear paint with a sample decal first. Many clear-coat paints will remove or tarnish and smear printed decals!

Reasons you might not want to clear coat paint over the top of vinyl decals:

– Vinyl decals can be removed relatively easily, and you can change them up. Once you paint, things get messy, and the result is more permanent.
– Flow coat over vinyl decals requires a lot more work. It might be a little more glossy, and a little more durable. But you must weigh costs and the labor involved.
– Vinyl stretches & shrinks. Over time the edge with the paint can shrink away leaving a hairline gap. However, if the decals are made with premium vinyl that has low shrinkage, this should not be a problem.

How to protect car decals?

Since vinyl car decals are often exposed to various outdoor environments, with time you will see the edge peel off and the vinyl will crack. So is there any way we can extend vinyl decals’ lifespan? Yes, proper installation and maintenance are important for your decal to stay longer on the vehicle. Besides, some people choose to apply PPF film over vinyl wrap, which is also a good method.

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