The Ultimate Guide to Waterslide Decal Paper – 10 Step Instructions!

The Ultimate Guide to Waterslide Decal Paper – 10 Step Instructions!

how to make waterslide decals infographic

Waterslide Decal Paper Instructions:

1. Before you begin, it is important to note that clear waterslide decal paper is best applied on light colored surfaces. White decal paper is best used when applying decals to dark surfaces. You can use more contrast and brightness in your printer settings to make your image stand out more.

👉Printable vinyl vs waterslide decals– what’s the difference?: Check out this amazing article we recently posted!

2. Print a test copy of the desired image on a normal sheet of paper. If the image is not satisfactory, simply adjust your printing options until the image comes out as you like. To increase the quality of the print, select Photo Glossy Paper and select “Best” under Media & Quality.

3. Royal Elements waterslide paper is A4 size, used around the world though uncommon in the United States, where U.S. Letter size is used. You will need to switch your printer page size from U.S. Letter to A4 size (8.27 x 11.69 inch). To do this: 1) have your image file open on your computer 2) press Ctrl + P 3) Go into Printer Settings/Setup 4) switch page size from Letter to A4.

4. Gather the following materials for the transfer: 1. Item for the image to be printed on (should be hard and smooth, i.e. a coffee mug) 2. Inkjet or laser printer (depending on the type of water slide paper) 3. clear aerosol acrylic decal fixative spray 4. hair dryer 5. scissors 6. bowl of warm water.

5. Print the image on the white decal paper then apply your clear aerosol acrylic decal fixative spray to the image. It is highly recommended to spray AT LEAST 3 coats waiting around 1 hour between each coat. The fixative spray locks the water-soluble ink to the decal film, making your designs waterproof so that the ink is not dissolved when placing your decals into warm water to apply.

6. Let the fixative spray air dry for an hour or use a hairdryer for 45-60 seconds to speed the process of drying.

7. Cut the image out with scissors. Rounding the edges will ensure the image does not peal off as easily as sharp corners. 

8. Soak your decal in a bowl of warm water for 15-30 seconds. If the decal curls up, use your fingers to lay it flat for a few seconds to straighten it. The decal is ready to be transferred when you see the edges peeling from the backing sheet.

9. Remove the paper backing by sliding it off from the white decal with your image printed on it and apply it to your desired surface. Smooth out the surface gently with a clean cloth or sponge to remove water and trapped air bubbles.

10. Carefully use a hair dryer to help the decal adhere to the surface fully. If the item is small and oven-safe, bake the item with the decal on it in an oven at 200°F – 250°F for 10-15 minutes depending on the item. Other items may be left to dry using a fan (or air dry) if neither of the other two methods are available.

11. Stand back, take a deep breath, and enjoy your new masterpiece! 🙂

One other alternative to waterslide decals is printable vinyl – which is more durable and is available in clear, glossy, and matte for inkjet printers!

To learn more about printable vinyl – check out this guide:

👉 Printable Vinyl 101 – Everything You Need to Know to Get Started!

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Doreen

    No need for epoxy? If oven sealed, is it pretty permanent?

    1. Michael

      Thanks for the comment Doreen! I would definitely recommend epoxy, sealing waterslides with an oven will help it stick to the surface better but epoxy will permanently seal it.

  2. priscilla

    I have no idea what I’m doing wrong. The spray adhesive comes off when I soak the decal in water. I let the decal set overnight to make sure it was dry. The water makes a mess of the decal. It brings some of the design up with it and the ink starts to smudge. I made and cut the design with my silhouette cameo. I’m using inkjet clear paper. I’ve read articles and watched you tube videos. I’m stumped.

    1. Michael

      Hi Priscilla,
      Wow that is strange. What kind of spray do you use? That may be the problem. I use Mod Podge clear acrylic sealer and I seal with 3 coats, waiting an hour in between and then let it dry over night.

  3. StuartSnatt

    Hello. And Bye.

  4. Vikki

    We are doing our first decal printing. We printed a test sheet came out perfect, black design. Printed on decal paper but printed in red not black. Made sure all settings were correct. Tried again… same thing. Any ideas??

    1. Michael

      This is very unusual, are you sure you have the correct type of printer for the waterslide paper (i.e. inkjet printer for inkjet waterslide paper)?

  5. tina miller

    What can I use in the winter instead of spray sealer when it’s to cold to go outside and spray?

  6. tina miller

    What can I use in the winter instead of spray sealer when it’s to cold to go outside and spray?

    1. Michael

      Great question! You could bring your project into the garage and have it warm up with a heater (making sure the area is well ventilated). If that isn’t possible you could use a laminating sheets (single-sided and clear) in order to protect it from wear and tear.

  7. Randy

    I have tried using waterslide decal and have had 0 luck……

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