How To Remove Vinyl Stickers
Vinyl stickers are designed to stand the test of time, 5–10 years to be exact (possibly even longer in ideal conditions), which is fantastic when you’re first applying them, but it doesn’t half leave you with a difficult job when you want rid of them!
The adhesive used to keep vinyl stickers, well… stuck is usually a very strong, permanent glue, perfect for minimizing peeling, shifting, and accidental removal.
But having consulted numerous interior design and automobile bodywork experts, when facing this issue myself, I knew for a fact that my vinyl stickers weren’t infallible.
With a few choice bits of kit, removing vinyl stickers is pretty painless, but using the wrong approach could seriously damage the surface beneath. Read on to learn how to remove vinyl stickers whilst keeping your surfaces safe!
How To Remove Vinyl Stickers From Walls Or Furniture
Let’s kick things off with a foolproof method for removing vinyl stickers from walls or furniture.
Here’s what you’re going to need.
- A hairdryer – I use this one as it’s particularly versatile in the temperature department, making it suitable for most of my vinyl removal needs.
- An Exacto knife (in some circumstances) My go-to is this blade. It’s super affordable, yet, after about 8 years, it’s still serving me well.
- Some Goo Gone – Goo Gone is the premier adhesive removal on the market. It makes removing residual glue marks completely effortless.
Step 1 – Heating Up The Vinyl Sticker
Your first port of call is to use a hairdryer to heat up the sticker, but don’t have it on the highest setting, as this can damage the surface beneath or melt the vinyl (I found that out the hard way), making it even trickier to remove.
If you’re dealing with a particularly large vinyl sticker, don’t bother trying to heat it all, just make some steady passes over the section you’re going to start lifting first. I tried to heat too much at one time on my first attempt, and ended up with a bunch of cold spots and had to reheat specific sections anyway.
Step 2 – Lifting A Corner Or Edge
With any luck, you’ll be able to peel up a corner or edge of the vinyl with your fingernail, as this is the least invasive way to get the ball rolling on your sticker removal.
however, if you’re struggling to lift a corner or edge, you may need to break out the big guns.
And by big guns, I mean your Exacto knife.
As gently as possible, wedge the blade underneath a corner or edge then pull up away from the surface, thereby lifting a section of sticker.
It’s really easy to mark paint or the surface itself with an Exacto knife, so take it nice and slow.
Step 3 – Peeling The Sticker Away
With your peeled edge or corner, you’ll be able to get a decent grip on the sticker and gradually pull it away from the surface. Don’t rush this, as you risk peeling paint or snapping the sticker, meaning you’ll have to return to step 2.
While you’re peeling with one hand, it’s a good idea to continue warming the sticker gently with your hairdryer, diminishing the bond of the glue from sections as you go.
This increases the chances that you’ll be able to pull the sticker off in one, but having said that, an older vinyl sticker will inevitably be quite brittle, so it’s more than likely that you’ll have to peel it away in stages.
Should you be dealing with a multilayer vinyl sticker, I’d highly recommend starting the peel on the base layer, as it may pull up subsequent layers with it, saving you lots of time and effort down the line.
Step 4 – Goo Gone
If the vinyl has been in place for a while, you’ll be left with some unsightly adhesive marks once removed, but don’t fret, as getting rid of them is by far the easiest (and my favorite) part of this process.
Simply grab your Goo Gone, give the tarnished area a spritz or two, then wipe it away with a microfiber cloth.
In my own experience, Goo Gone is perfectly safe to use on painted and sealed surfaces, but it’s not recommended for use on drywall.
In its place, soap and warm water may be all you need, and failing that, a mild solvent should get the job done.
How To Remove Vinyl Stickers From Vehicles Using An Eraser Wheel
Next up, let’s explore the easiest way to remove vinyl stickers from cars without damaging windows or paintwork.
- An eraser wheel – I use this eraser wheel because it’s both affordable and reliable.
- A drill – I can’t speak highly enough of this Black & Decker drill, as it’s incredibly versatile and the advanced 24-position clutch gives you tons of control, which is what you want when working on vehicles.
- Some Goo Gone – You know my thoughts on this amazing stuff!
Step 1 – Setting Up Your Eraser Wheel
First thing’s first; set up your eraser wheel by attaching it to the end of your drill. The wheel linked above arrives with a drill adapter kit, so you won’t need to make any aftermarket purchases.
I found that it’s a super easy process. All you do is screw on a shaft, which is in turn inserted into the drill.
Step 2 – Buffing Out The Vinyl Stickers
Connecting the side of the eraser wheel to the surface, buff the sticker away. It should come off within seconds (at least it always does with me), but it will leave behind lots of ugly adhesive.
Step 3 – Goo Gone
Wipe away the particulate eraser debris, spray the residual adhesive with a little Goo Gone, wipe it away with a microfiber cloth, and voilà; job done!
Step 4 – Polish (Optional)
If I really want my ride to pop, once the vinyl stickers are removed, I find it’s always best to give the surface a good polish.
How To Remove Vinyl Stickers From A Vehicle Using A Heat Gun
This process of removing vinyl stickers from a car with a heat gun is exactly the same as the one for removing stickers from walls or furniture, except you use the gun instead of the hair dryer, and a vinyl scraper for lifting an edge.
- A heat gun – I’m a big fan of this Seekone heat gun. The reasonable price tag had me a little skeptical at first, but after a few test runs, I was very impressed with its performance.
- A scraper tool – I use this specialist scraper tool because it’s designed specifically for scraping vinyl away from bodywork.
- Some Goo Gone
Step 1 – Heat The Vinyl
Use a mild setting on your heat gun to warm the vinyl and weaken the adhesive beneath.
Step 2 – Start The Peel
Use your vinyl scraper to peel an edge or corner.
Step 3 – Remove The Vinyl
Slowly remove the vinyl decal from the body of the vehicle.
Step 4 – Goo Gone
A quick spritz of Goo Gone will make short work of residual glue.
Step 5 – Polish (Optional)
Again, for the best results, carry out a quick polishing session using products of your choosing.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re hoping to simply wait for your vinyl stickers to fall off all by themselves, I’m sorry to say that depending on the quality of the sticker, you might be waiting as long as 10 years, so it’s best to grab my suggested tools and give one of my manual removal methods a go.
Vinyl stickers don’t cause any structural damage to walls, but in some instances, they may well pull off fragments of paint during removal, but you can avoid a patchy wall by using the first removal method in this guide.
Any quality decal purchased from a reputable manufacturer will be completely harmless to your car’s paintwork or windows. It’s only the very poor quality stuff that might cause a few problems, so don’t cheap out in this department.
There you have it – Three fantastic methods for removing vinyl stickers from various surfaces without causing any damage, even vinyl stickers on glass.
Now you can get rid of all those old vinyl stickers haunting your home or vehicle, and replace them with something more in line with your current tastes.
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