• Small Sharp Scissors or X-Acto Knife
• Bowl of Clean Room Temperature Water (distilled water is preferred)
• Paper Towels
• Small Soft Brush
• Microscale Liquid Decal Film*
• Microscale Micro Set*
• Microscale Micro Sol* or Walthers Solvaset*
*these products can typically be purchased from your local hobby store or online.
Waterslide decals are extremely delicate and require care. If not applied properly the decal may scratch, rip or tear during application. It is suggested that you do testing before you apply your purchased product.
Application surface should be as smooth as possible. Make sure you have cleaned the application surface, insuring that it is free of any oils and debris. If you plan to clear coat the decal, it is recommended that you first apply a clear coat over the application surface and allow coating to dry. This will insure that the application surface is smooth and any previous pores are sealed. Waterslide decals will not stick to raw wood.
If you would like to thicken the decal film before applying you may use Microscale Liquid Decal Film to do so. You can apply using a soft brush; let dry for 20 minutes. It is also beneficial to apply liquid decal film if you decals have been sitting for more than 2 years after receiving. Liquid decal film will also protect the printed ink from scratches and some chemical reactions from clear coats. Liquid decal film is not required or recommended if you are applying fresh decals and want best end results.
Remove decal sheet from packaging gently. Cut out decal in square/rectangular/circular pattern using a sharp pair of scissors leaving at least ¼-½” between the decal print and cutting edge. Store the remainder of the decal sheet in supplied packaging. This will prevent oils and moisture from coming in contact with sheet.
If you are applying your decal to an irregular surface and want to make the decal conform and adhere better; lightly brush on a coat of Microscale Micro Set to the application surface before applying the decal. This will soften the decal and make it more flexible when applying, eliminating air bubbles and giving you that painted on look. It will also provide better adhesion. Do not allow solution to dry before applying decal.
Fill a spray bottle with clean room temperature water. Distilled water will work the best. Place the cut out decal on a damp paper towel and spray decal backing until it is completely soaked. Flip decal so that the print side is facing up and spray lightly with water. The decal film will start to separate from the backing. This could take between 5-15 seconds. Once the decal has started to separate you may proceed to next step. You can also place the cut out decal in a bowl of clean room temperature water for 5-15 seconds, however you have less control when doing this.
Carefully place decal and backing on application surface where you want the decal to be placed. You may moisten the application surface with water first to assist you in decal placement after application. Carefully slide the backing paper out from underneath the decal film leaving the film on the application surface. You may use a small soft brush or your fingers to assist you in holding the film in place. Smooth out decal using a damp paper towel or soft brush. Using a paper towel or soft brush, carefully dab away excess water.
If you have an extremely irregular surface or you are seeing wrinkles or air bubbles under your decal you may use Microscale Micro Sol or Wathers Solvaset. These are more aggressive setting solutions which will cause the decal to conform and bond to the application surface. Apply a very thin coat on the decal using a soft brush. Do not apply a second coat, re-brush or touch an area of the decal where you have applied the solution. The decal will soften and start to conform; if you attempt to adjust or touch the decal during this process you will destroy the decal. You can also apply along just the edges of the decal film, this will blend the film to surface. Allow decal to dry.
Before any type of clear coating you must make sure that the decal is 100% dry both on top and underneath. It is recommended that you wait 24 hours for any remaining moisture to evaporate. You may speed up this process by using a hair dryer, do not use a heat gun. If there is any moisture present when you apply your clear coat you risk damaging the decal.
To protect decals after application, spray over decal and application surface with a clear coating spray. We suggest Poly, Lacquer, nitro or any other typical guitar finish such as Tru Oil. You must first apply 2-3 very thin mist coats over the decal, allowing it to dry each time. After you have sealed the decal with thin coats you may apply a heavier coat if you want.
If you are using enamel clear coat, automotive clear coat, acrylic clear coat, urethane or lacquer you must first use a thinned out coat. If you don’t thin out the first coat it will dissolve the decal. Once the first coat has dried you may then apply a standard coat.
There are many different types of clear coats that can be used successfully. It is recommended that you always test a decal on scrap until you know what method works for you.
There are many YouTube videos and websites that have great tutorials on how to apply waterslide decals. They are all a little different but very helpful. If you have never applied waterslide decals it is recommend to do a little research online.
The application of waterslide decals requires a degree of dexterity, and concentration. If this is your first time applying waterslide decals, please try the sample decal that is not painted first. We cannot be responsible for replacing decals that have been damaged during application