What is Waterslide Decal Paper?

What is Waterslide Decal Paper?

how waterslide decal paper works infographic

Waterslide Decal Paper Defined

Waterslide decal paper is a specialty paper that is activated when placed in water. It is composed of a thin film with a backing sheet attached to it. After being printed and sealed by an aerosol sealant spray, the decal in placed in water and the backing slides off and the sticky dextrose on the back of the decal is activated and ready to be stuck to the item of choice (i.e. Yeti Tumbler).

Water slide decals are extremely thin and provide a “painted-on” look that can be printed to a very high resolution. Printable vinyl is thicker and more durable; however, the seams show more than waterslide decals and they are higher profile. Waterslide decals are not recommended for heavy use applications, as they can be scratched or peeled off with mild effort. Most crafters place the decal on then seal over top with a clear casting resin, which make their artwork nearly indestructible. Waterslide decal paper is very popular among custom tumbler creators.

clear waterslide decal paper tumbler royal elements
Royal Elements clear waterslide decal paper with clear casting resin over top

Types of Waterslide Decals and Advantages of Each

There are two different variations of waterslide decal paper. Clear waterslide decal paper has a clear background to be printed on and is useful for white or light-colored backgrounds because the background will be clear and will blend in with the surface that it is being placed on.

White waterslide decal paper is best used on darker backgrounds; however, the white areas of the decal will be displayed in contrast against the dark item. The application process is the same for clear and white waterslide decal paper.

difference between clear and white waterslide decals
Top - clear waterslide. Bottom - white waterslide.

Waterslide decal paper for inkjet printers is different than waterslide decal paper for laser printers. The packaging should tell you which type of printer the waterslide paper is made for, so be sure to buy the correct type for your printer.

waterslide decal paper application technique
Clear Waterslide Decal Paper Being Applied

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Debbie

    i have been working with this product for 2 days. i have wasted almost half of each package that I purchased. The laser clear prints and when I put it on after 3 hours of spraying and drying, it disintegrates and tears. I never sticks. It comes off like ashes from a fire. The white laser printer continuously jams my printer. (HP color laser jet pro M452w). I have stayed up for 2 nights watching videos and I cannot make this product work. Please help

    1. Michael

      I’m so sorry about the printing and sliding issues you’re having. I do have a few suggestions that may help!

      1. I would highly recommend going a lot heavier on the acrylic sealant spray (I recommend Krylon or Mod Podge personally) 3+ coats waiting about 1 hour between coats then allowing the final coat to dry for a few hours before sliding in the water.

      2. slide the backing off of the decal- rather than pulling the decal off directly. If you gently stick a corner of the decal off onto your mug/object then you can pull the backing paper off without yanking the actual decal very much.

      3. For printing the white waterslide you may need to select a different printing type- “Cardstock” or something thicker should stop this from jamming. You printer may be having trouble auto selecting the type of printer it should use to print.

      If you need more help please email me at info@royalelements.com – you will get a much faster response from me that way and I offer more solutions.
      Owner, Royal Elements

  2. colleen torregrossa

    Hi Michael
    I am putting photos on wine glasses using the waterslide paper for ink jet, I sprayed with clear acrylic (3 coats), but I am getting some wrinkles, just minor, but nothing I do seems to get them out Can I put clear mod podge on top of the decal before curing in the oven? And if so, do you think it will help? Or should I just try curing as is?

    1. Thanks so much for reaching out! Sorry about the trouble with wrinkles, it is a very common problem. Curing as is might not be very helpful because your decals are only able to be smoothed out while they are still wet. The best suggestion I can offer is to spray with 3-4 coats before transferring and pulling the backing sheet off the decal when transferring- as opposed to pulling on the decal which would cause more tearing. I usually take the backing sheet itself or a squeegee and smooth out the bubbles and wrinkles after transferring which has worked wonderfully for me. I do remember you emailign me about this but I thought I would also post this here to help everyone else who could be having the same problem. I hope this was helpful, and have a great day!

    2. Leisa

      What is the difference of laser and inkjet if you have to seal it? the ONLY advantage to Laser waterslide is that you dont have to seal prior to use! this was wasted money. Wished there were more information out there on this product, then again, if people knew, they would not purchase! Infuriates me to waste time and money. Two packages for a big job….had to drop another 50 bucks plus another 12 in shipping to replace because of deadlines. Company should be ashamed.

      1. Michael

        The difference between the two paper types is that the material of the waterslide is different depending on if you have a laser or inkjet printer. You are correct that laser waterslide does not need sealer prior to transferring it in the water, however it is a good idea to seal all of your waterslide decal paper in some way in order to allow it to last longer.

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