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Fixing Decals that Lift

No matter how good the decals are they can lift from the model and take away from the scale look and feel. The good news is that it’s easy to fix and you might even have everything you need in the workshop.

There is no particular reason that decals come off. It could be that the paint and the adhesive on the decal are not a good match. It could be humidity or even oil in the moulding processes. Whatever the reason we can fix it.

What will I need?

  • PVA glue (Polyvinyl Acetate) It is sold in hardware stores, arts and crafts, possibly even your supermarket.
  • A small brush or cotton swab
  • Damp cloth
  • Covering Iron or household iron (Totally optional)
  • Wide box packing tape
  • Non-stick baking paper
  • A small sandbag or other suitable items to place over the decal

Start by studying the decal and working out what needs to be struck down. Start by gently prying back the decal a little more to see how the adhesion is around the affected area. If you can pry around the decal you can apply PVA to the entire outer rim of the decal and stop this from happening in the future. If the decal appears to be well bonded to the model surface you can leave it.

Place the baking paper over the decal and ensure you have enough to completely cover the decal and surrounding area. Set this aside as you will need this to completely cover the decal once the glue is applied.

Dip the brush or swab into the glue and begin to coat the decal with the PVA glue. Try not to apply too much however once the decal is laid flat you can clean up any overspill. Gently lay the decal down working from the inner part of the decal out. Using a damp cloth clean up any excess PVA glue.

Place the baking paper over the decal and ensure that the decal is still in position. You will be able to see through the baking paper to the decal below. If required, place a sandbag or other suitable item on the decal and then hold down with the packing tape. Be sure to place the sticky side out so that it does not stick to the model and remove any paint. You don’t have to use sticky tape and you could use velcro loops if you like.

Leave the decal to dry out completely by placing it in a warm place. The next day the model will be ready to use however after a few hours the model can be handled again. When you are removing the tape from the model there is always a risk that the tape that might come into contact with the model and stick to the paint. You can apply paper to the tape that is exposed so that it cannot stick to the paint the choice is yours.

If the decal is still a little wrinkled you can try to heat the decal gently to remove bubbles and creases. Place the baking paper over the model along with a piece of felt. Set the iron to the coolest setting and slowly turn the heat up as you go and allow plenty of time for the iron to heat up should you need to apply more heat. Check that you are not overheating the model as the foam will bludge and spoil the finish.

Best of luck and happy landings.


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