DECAL AND EMBLEM REMOVAL
If you've always wanted to achieve a nondescript look for your set of wheels, removing any decal or emblem professionally allows you to stand out from the crowd. Not to mention, you have the opportunity to truly create an outlet of personalization. While addressing this subject, it's important to note that these processes require a delicate hand, not to mention tools and equipment that only preserve the integrity of your paintwork and the surrounding body. For those of you that categorize yourselves as "DIY warriors", below you'll find a step-by-step guide to successfully removing any existing decal or emblem.
Examine the decal or emblem that needs to be removed. As a prerequisite, you have to ask yourself these questions before proceeding any further:
Question 1: "What condition is the decal or emblem in?"
It's important to diagnose the condition of the area prior to any removal. By determining the age and condition, you'll be able to set aside the appropriate tools and resources, which in turn will help streamline the overall process.
Question 2: "How old is the emblem or decal?"
Newer vehicles (typically those that are 5 years of age or newer) will typically have adhesives and glues with a higher viscosity. Along the same lines, any newer decal or emblem will be exponentially easier to remove versus one of an older age. Conversely, any vehicle that's of an older age will require a little more time and patience due to a brittle and aging layer of adhesive.
Question 3: "What is your working area?"
Every vehicle has a unique body style and design. While many decals and emblems sit on areas that are easy to manage, some areas may have a challenging surface, whereby requiring an exact and calculating hand.
Once you've determined all the variables associated with your decal or emblem, it's time to set aside all the appropriate tools for a successful removal. First and foremost, it's essential to mask the surrounding area with detailing tape. If you don't have detailing tape at your disposal, blue painter's tape will suffice.
Once you've masked off the area of removal, it's time to "break apart" the glues and adhesives of the decal or emblem with either a dedicated heat gun or hairdryer. If for any reason you don't have a portable heat gun in your toolbox, you can simply reach for a conventional hairdryer. With an oscillating fan-like motion, evenly distribute heat around the decal or emblem. While it may be tempting to expedite the process by applying high levels of heat all at once, it's always best to proceed with caution by setting your heat gun or hairdryer to a medium level of heat. In this way, you'll avoid the "point of no return" or having your paintwork bubble due to excessive levels of heat. I cannot emphasize this enough, it's absolutely crucial to keep your source of heat moving. If not, an uneven concentration of heat can pose potential risks of damaging your paintwork. After a period of 2-5 minutes, lightly move the decal or emblem with two fingers to assess whether the adhesive or glues have started breaking apart. If the area is already starting to break away from the paintwork, then you can proceed to step 4.
Much like that of flossing a tooth, it's time to finally remove the loose decal or emblem. To ensure a seamless finish, take any form of braided fishing line (yes, I said fishing line) and measure enough line to wrap around each hand for a firm application. From top to bottom, wedge the fishing line directly behind the decal or emblem and lightly move the fishing line back and forth until you make your way to the bottom. In a majority of cases, the decal or emblem should drop to the ground. For those areas that require a little persuasion, you may need to repeat this step until the emblem comes off in one piece.
Once the decal or emblem has been completely removed, you'll undoubtedly be left with some residual residue on the paintwork. In order to safely remove any leftover residue, you can use a host of products. However, in my experience a product called Rapid Remover will emulsify and "break apart" anything that may be resting on the paintwork. This product is particularly effective for older decals and emblems since the residue had hardened over time. You can also achieve similar results with a dedicated degreaser that's specifically formulated for automotive paintwork. With a plush microfiber towel, simply work the cleaner into the area and apply light to moderate pressure. At the bottom of this article, you'll find a small handful of products that help facilitate this process.
Odds are you'll be left with a few micro-scratches from the removal process. In order to remove these scratches, you can reach for a microfiber towel with a light to medium cut compound. For those of you within the detailing arena, you can simply reach for your dual-action or rotary polisher for even faster removal. After a compound has been used, finally reach for a finishing polish to restore the clarity of your paintwork. Congratulations, you're finished! Now, for those of you that want to add a personalized touch, you can leave the masking tape on and replace your OEM decal or emblem with an aftermarket accessory. In this way, you'll already have an outline of where your original decal or emblem was initially installed.
Step back and admire your results! For any questions or concerns regarding this process, feel free to contact me and I'll be more than happy to help.
Products and Tools
Portable Heat Gun