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Vinyl Graphics under SPI Clear

I know this was discussed here a long time ago (http://www.spiuserforum.com/index.php?threads/vinyl-decals-under-clear.704/) so please forgive me for bringing this up again. There were a couple of things I saw missing from the old thread that might help when trying to do this. One thing I've read is it helps a lot to dust two coats of clear over the decal area (and let them flash well) before trying to bury the decals with heavier coats of clear. The second thing is one decal supplier for what I do recommends using Bulldog adhesion promoter and doesn't mention anything about trying to scuff the decals, which as mentioned in the old thread can damage the decal's printing depending on how it was done.

Furthermore, I read on a motorcycle forum that Harley Davidson clears over all their graphics now, and this was mentioned by someone who supposedly worked for them, so this suggests it can be done successfully because you don't see Harley's with clear peeling around their graphics.

Any further thoughts on this would be much appreciated as I'm contemplating doing this and am trying to stack the deck in my favor.
dont scuff. just mist some adpro over the decal and clear as normal. all motorcycle companies clear over their decals on the fuel tank. this is so gas wont tear up the decal if it runs down the side of the tank. they have been clearing over them for prob 30 years. clearing over vinyl decals is no big deal. it will stick just fine with a little adpro.


Paint Fanatic
Staff member
I have never recommended adpro over any decal, nor sanding, and when I give advice if anything blows up I will be the first to be chewed out!
I have NEVER a had word to us or seen or had a call where my product came off a decal. NEVER.
We sell a LOT of manufacturers that clear over decals every day.
And who knows how many trans-am eagles on hoods we have done, 6 myself.
Problem with adpro is if not used right it can cause problems in the painting process and NUMBER one problem call i get is from people using someone else's or my adpro wrong and then wrinkle problems start.
Fewer layers of different problems on a decal are best in my opinion.
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your right the solvents should bite into the decal because its "supposed" to be vinyl. i have always done a light coat of adpro simply because you have no idea what the decal is. it should be vinyl but is it laminated, what is the lamination material made of, do some companies have different formulas of the vinyl. there are boat loads of manufacturers of vinyl and god only knows how they formulate the stuff. there are alot of unknowns. generally its probably an unnecessary step. i just do it to cover my ass i guess and because that how i have always done it.

ta guy, too much adpro on anything will weaken the bond. less it more with that stuff. nothing wrong with not using it on the decal as barry said. if you decide to use it, use it sparingly. 1 light coat is all that is needed.


Paint Fanatic
Staff member
As far as you doing the adpro, my feelings is you know what can go wrong and you will not push it to get to that problem.
It s the shop I spent an hour on phone yesterday that slamed the bulldog and rushed it and first coat of clear on bumper wrinkled but the side and deck lid was perfect and he thought a clear problem.


Paint Fanatic
Staff member
I am wondering if makers like H-D, that know their decals are to be clear coated, have them made specifically for that use, like making them thinner and maybe even corona treating them like masking plastic is.
JimC might know but I bet they do and the only reason I say this I have had some manufacturers get bad ones that would not take a clear and the distributor each time had it corrected in short order.


Top Banana
Would you believe on my way to grocery store today, i had knight rider style ta with screamn chicken hood decal lol.
Yes, there seems to be a bunch of different types of decals of either the waterslide or vinyl type and with various types of methods used to put the design or letters on them. All the posts I've read on clearcoating over decals seem to universally agree that it can be done successfully so long as you exercise a little care in doing it; I've never found a post which specifies which types of decals can or can't be cleared over, other than waterslide decals which seem to get cleared over a lot. I've read that decals printed with an inkjet printer HAVE to be clearcoated over because the ink isn't that stable, but decals that are silkscreened or laser jet printed don't absolutely have to be cleared to last a while. Some decal makers will actually list which clear and method of applying it to decals have been successful for them.

The shop that's been making my vinyl decals does offer to put a clear laminate over them, but I've always felt this is intended for decals that are going to be exposed to UV rays without any other coating on them. I've always figured that if I'm going to put my own clear on them then I don't need the laminate - it will just make the decal thicker.

I suspect the thing to do is to experiment and find what yields good results, but it kind of sounds like in reading these posts that as long as you don't try to do anything crazy it's not that big of a deal.
i have done both regular vinyl and waterslide. i have waterslide decal material for a regular inkjet. i can print what i want then cut it out, slide onto surface then clear. you are right that you must clear those. the first clear to go on them needs to be kind of dry sprayed and left to tack up so the ink doesnt shift when you do a wet coat. a light coat of intercoat clear ofver them works as well. if you have a regular vinyl decal printed then you do not need the clear laminate put on them if you are clearing over.
I have a very large decal to cover most of my roof. ( guess what I am building LOL!) I plan on clearing after base, scuffing, and then applying vinyl graphics and finally clearing again. Is this correct or is there something I need to change? Thanks!
I don't think it was mentioned. If planning to clear over vinyl give the graphics plenty of time for the adhesive to fully grab the substrate, and any small bubbles to shrink out. Some moderate heat will speed that up.
2 questions: 1. How long should the first round of clear dry before applying the vinyl graphics? 2. How long should the graphics be applied before the 2nd round of clear?

Thanks for any info!
i would give it 24hrs to cure before you sand and pply the decal. before you apply the clear over it then the wait will vary on how the decal was applied. if you do a wet application then i would give it 4-5 days this time of year. if its dry then the decal just needs to be heated and squeegeed down really well.