One of the reasons RV makers use vinyl decals is because they can save money. Vinyl decals are said to be cheaper than paint and if you see white on an RV, that is not painted on either. Anything to save a buck while still making your RV or trailer look nice.
There are a number of home remedies RV owners suggest. Some work and some don’t. But your best option to restore old decals would be the commercially sold restorers and cleaners. Just follow the instructions to get good results.
To learn more on this topic, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can clean up those dirty-looking decals and make them look nice again. Not all products whether home remedies or commercial products will work. Be choosy.
There are many different suggestions that RV owners make to those who ask this question. Their suggestions include mineral and vegetable oils, WD-40, toothpaste, alcohol, 303 UV Treatment and Sealer, Rejuvenate Plastic Restorer, Various other brands of cleaners and wax, & peanut butter.
Unfortunately, these suggestions often do not work or if they do, their shine does not last for very long. Even the Rejuvenate Plastic restorer did not provide a satisfying result.
What did for one owner was using Rejuvenate Restorer Wipes. The process was to clean the decals first, then after letting them dry, use the wipes. The number of wipes you will use depends on the size of your RV or trailer.
Here is what another owner did to restore his decals:
1. Wash the decal area thoroughly and allow it to dry.
2. Using 1500 grit, wet sandpaper available at your automotive supply or paint store, apply the sandpaper to a rubber sanding block, dip it in warm water for a minute or two, apply water to a small area of the decal, and lightly sand using uniform pressure.
3. In very short order, you will see oxidized pigment flowing from the sanded area. Do not over-sand at this point!
4. Wash the area with clean water and allow it to dry. When properly sanded, the decal should be uniform in color without any sign of "blotchiness" or non-uniform coloration.
5. If the area does not appear uniform in color, wet the surface again and continue sanding until a uniformly colored surface is obtained.
6. I should point out that at this point, the decal surface will be glass smooth over the entire sanded area when you are done.
7 After the decal is sanded and washed, apply a high-quality wax. I found in my experiments that real Carnuba wax provided the best surface appearance and I suspect that it will also provide the best long-term protection. However, an extremely close quality finish can be achieved with "Maguires Cleaner/Polish" in place of the Carnuba. (source)
We have not found a product with that name so far. The EZ brand is made by Superior but it only has a few products with that name attached. Those products may be used to clean decals but that application is not mentioned on any of their labels that we were able to read.
All the products found on the Superior website are for quick detailing work on cars. This could be something you could use on your vinyl decals but you would have to contact the company to find out for sure.
The technical data sheet simply states it is for cars and you should not spray it on the metal when it is hot or hot outside. The car needs to be freshly washed and dried before applying this wax.
You can investigate this product at this link. or contact the company through its contact information. In our searches, this product did not show up on any top best list or at Amazon.
If you find this exact item, it may be a good product to use. So far no one is talking about it at this time. Superior makes a lot of waxes and other cleaning products for cars so it should be okay to use.
Believe it or not, there is a brand name Decal that makes a decal-restoring product. It can be found at Amazon and it is made with eco-friendly ingredients.
One top 7 best review only quoted what Amazon vendors had to say about this product and did not really review it. But he placed it at number 2 on his list right behind McKee’s 37 Marine & RV MKRV-552 restorer. It is sold under the name Max’s.
Unfortunately, only about 1 person gave this product a 5-star rating on the Amazon page. Just about everyone else was very disappointed with their results.
Those people that posted a review said the bottle was too small for the price and did not cover more than one decal on their RVs. Others were very clear in their reviews and said it did not work at all and was a waste of money.
Right now it is unavailable on Amazon. But other stores sell it for between $16 and $20 approx. No reviews were attached to those other pages. The stores did hype the product but it may be best if you go with a better brand of a restorer. There are plenty on the market to choose from.
If you are not sure which other brands to use, talk to your fellow RV owners who have used different commercial products to restore their decals. They will give you a good idea of which brand is the best to use.
As usual, this is a subjective topic and one top best list may not have the same number one brand as the others have. For example, the top 7 best list we referred to earlier, put McKee’s 37 Marine & RV MKRV-552 Vinyl Decal & Graphic restorer as #1 but it did not appear on another top best list.
But on a 3rd list, it ranked #2. What ranked #1 on those 2 lists was the Meguiar’s brand but one was for wax and the other was oxidation remover. Meguiar’s was also #1 on the best restorer list as well.
This ranking across a wide range of top best lists gives you a good clue that Meguiar’s makes a great product for whatever you need. Just so you know, the E-Z brand did not show up on anyone’s list.
Other brands that scored high for restorer were Rustoleum with a 9 out of 10 rating, Spray Nine 26932 Cleaner with a 9 out of 10 ratings, and Meds (RPK 175) restorer with an 8.5 out of 10 rating.
Other owners have recommended Rejuvenate products but not all of this brand’s products produce the best results. You can do some more research on this topic to find some good brands near you. The cost will be the most influential factor.
Not all decals are made the same nor to the same quality standards. This means you have to be careful before you apply any polish and start buffing. You can buff fiberglass gel decals as long as you use the right type of cloth.
One of the problems you will run into is that many of the usual waxes and polishes can stain your decals. The reason for this is that they are not all made from the same materials or have the same finishes on them.
What you should watch out for is the texture of the decals. Smooth and glossy decals can be buffed with regular waxes and polishes. You should not have a problem working with those decals.
On the other hand, those that are not smooth and glossy originally will cause you a lot of problems when you try and buff them. The worst situation to be in is when you have corrugated siding covered with vinyl decals.
These are very hard to keep looking nice. It would take a lot of work to get into the grooves even to buff those decals. Then if those decals are up high and you need a ladder to reach them, be extra careful. Those power buffers can give a kick and knock you off the ladder or knock the ladder over.
When you buff the high parts of those decals and RV, lie on your roof and work from the safety the roof offers.
The best thing to do is pick the best brand and type of polish and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Each brand may have its own unique method for the application so you need to read the labels before you buy.
Plus, you should read the labels to make sure you are getting the right type of polish for vinyl decals. Since all decals are not made the same, you have to make sure the polish works on vinyl. There are three types of polish you can use:
1. Liquid- this is the most popular because it is sold in sizes that will cover large motorhomes and trailers. They are also the easiest to apply
2. Paste- a lot more work to apply and this type may not be sold in sizes that are convenient for large RV owners. They may have to buy too many cans than they want and storage can be a problem.
3. Spray-on- best for those who have smaller decals to polish or restore. These are not sold in very large sizes so they do not work that well for the larger RVs, etc.
No matter which type you use, you will have to do some buffing to get that decal to shine again. But there is no guarantee that the brand you buy will do the job. As has been reported by other owners, many of the home remedies and commercial brands do not leave a long-lasting impressive result.
The shine may come but in a few weeks, you may have to do the job all over again.
The best tips will be the same as the advice for what to look for. Application varies with the type of wax and the best tip for that is to pick the one that fits the job you have at hand.
Don’t buy a spray when you are doing a large decal. Other tips are:
1. Product application- spray-on types are easy but their shine may not last that long. Their thinner consistency makes it easy to go through the spray nozzle but is not great for enduring the elements.
2. Versatility- or what type of applications it is good for. Because decals are not the same, you have to make sure the type of wax you pick works for your specific decal material or is a universal application.
3. Longevity- not all products will last a long time. If you want that longevity then do not buy just any brand of polish, etc. Pick the brand that guarantees long-lasting results.
4. UV protection- with your RV or trailer out in the sun for long stretches of time, make sure the polish, etc., that you use comes with UV protection. This option will protect your decals from peeling and cracking.
5. Cost- cheap may not have UV and other protective elements to them. Pick a good brand that offers top protection at the right price you can afford.
Restoring decals is not always easy. Too many products offer the moon but do not provide that result. Sometimes, you may only learn which brands are the best through trial and error.
Home remedies are the same way. Some may work but not last as long as you want them to. Or they won’t work at all. Trial and error is the best teacher because decals are different.