5 Tips for Creating Beautiful Waterslide Decals!

5 Tips for Creating Beautiful Waterslide Decals!

1. Print on Photo Glossy Paper setting

waterslide decal paper printer settings

Adjusting your printer settings is very important in order to print crisp, sharp images. Waterslide decal paper has a glossy texture, so telling your printer which type of paper media you are printing on helps increase the image clarity. 

If you experience problems with image quality when printing waterslide decal paper, the problem is most likely due to the type of paper you select to print. Select “Glossy Photo Paper” or a similar setting on your printer to ensure the highest resolution image is printed.

2. Use Enough Sealer!

One common problem people experience when using waterslide paper is caused by not using enough sealer. Using an acrylic sealer is required to prevent the ink from bleeding from the waterslide decal when transferring it in the water. 

Three coats or more are highly recommended, waiting 30 minutes to an hour between coats. The first coat should be fairly light. The second coat should be a bit thicker. The third coat should be heavier and allowed to dry for at least an hour. 

Some customers prefer to wait as much as 24 hours to ensure it is fully cured and ready to transfer in the water. After sealing with an acrylic spray some customers use epoxy to completely waterproof and protect their decals. Tutorials for this can be found on YouTube and goes beyond the scope of these quick tips.

3. Clear or white waterslide?

Clear waterslide paper is very useful for printing decals on light-colored or white objects. Where the image would display white – it would be clear instead. 

This makes it easier to cut out so you don’t have to worry about having an ugly white border if you can cut precisely to the edge. 

The downside is that the printed image on a clear background will not display as well against darker objects.

White waterslide paper is best suited for darker colored objects because it will display fully behind a black tumbler, for example. 

The printed image will have a nice contrast behind the white waterslide paper, which can produce a professional looking decal.

4. Cut close to the edge!

For those of us not fortunate to have access to a cutting machine, getting a crisp edge to your decal can be difficult.

 But fear not, there are ways to get a clean looking edge to your decal. First, try to cut your best using scissors as closely to the edge as possible. 

Then after you have slid the decal onto your desired surface, you can carefully cut to the precise edge of the image with an exact-o blade. 

If that is not sufficient, you could take a marker that matches the color of your surface and outline the excess edges so that it blends in with the background.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to make your own waterslide decals and be paid to do it, check out this new blog post to learn more.


5. Proper sliding technique

waterslide decal paper application technique

When you are ready to slide the decal onto your surface, technique is everything. Gently slide a bit of the edge of the decal onto the surface then shimmy it out from the backing paper. 

Place your hand on the waterslide decal while pulling on the backing paper gently, being careful to not tear it away too rapidly. It may help to allow the decal to sit in the water a little while longer (30-40 seconds) before sliding off to allow a smoother transfer. 

When finished transferring, take a clean cloth and press it down on the decal gently to expel excess water from the decal. Also be on the lookout for bubbles trapped behind the waterslide decal!


Spray before you cut! If you cut out your decal then spray, the sealer will stick to the edges of the decal and the transfer will not remove properly.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. admin

    Let me know if this is helpful, and happy crafting!

  2. Gena

    My waterslide sealer is cracking after placement “(

    1. admin

      Oh dear! Did you follow the sealer recommendations from this article? Also, if you bend the decal when placing it on that could cause the ink to crack.

  3. Carla

    Mine was on and it looked so good. But I woke up ready to epoxy and my decal had came off. What did I do wrong ?

    1. Michael

      It sounds like the decal didn’t seal on properly. I would recommend you pick up some Micro Sol setting solution, it is like glue and can help your decal stick on very well.

  4. Karey

    I really, really adore those butterflies! Is there a file I can buy somewhere for them?

  5. Karen

    can you please share settings so I can cut with Silhouette?

    1. Michael

      Hi Karen,
      If you mean printer settings- I always recommend printing on “Photo Glossy Paper” or whatever is closest to this.

  6. Judith

    If you’re printing through cricut, would you turn bleed on?

  7. Shonna

    What cut seeking do you recommend when cutting your image with the silhouette cameo? I

    1. Michael

      Great question! I would recommend setting your silhouette cameo cutting settings to Cardstock with a blade setting of 3. Speed at 3-4 cm/s and Thickness at 33.

  8. Ana

    what brand is the best acrylic to seal it and where do I get it?

    1. Michael

      I personally love Mod Podge’s clear acrylic sealer. Krylon also has good options. I bought mine at Michael’s Craft Store, but Amazon also sells them.

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