How to Clear-Coat Decals

Written by kristie lorette
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How to Clear-Coat Decals
Learn how to add a protective coating to decorative vehicle decals. (Eagle image by Alexandr Shebanov from

When you add decals to your motorcycle or other vehicle as decor, you will want to add a clear coat over the top of the decal. Clear coating helps to protect the decal from peeling, cracking or sustaining other damage from exposure to the elements. With a few materials and a little of your time, you can clear-coat decals yourself.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Automotive urethane
  • Dry, clean cloth
  • Sandpaper
  • Application brush
  • Electric buffer
  • Buffing compound

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  1. 1

    Wipe down the area where you are applying the decal with a clean, dry cloth. You should remove any dirt, dust and debris from the surface. This allows the decal to sit flat and adhere to the area.

  2. 2

    Install each decal on the motorcycle or other vehicle. Rub the decal with your fingers or the cloth to work out any air bubbles or creases so that it lies flat. Allow the decal to sit overnight.

  3. 3

    Wipe the decal off with a dry, clean cloth. This is to remove any dust, dirt and other debris before you apply the clear coating.

  4. 4

    Prepare the clear coating. Follow the directions on the packaging to prepare the automotive urethane.

  5. 5

    Add one light coat of clear automotive urethane to the decal. Wait about 10 minutes for the first coat to dry. Then apply a second light coat. Wait another 10 minutes.

  6. 6

    Apply another coat, this time a bit thicker than the original two coats. Wait 10 minutes.

  7. 7

    Apply another semi-thick coat. Allow the clear coating to dry overnight for at least 24 hours.

  8. 8

    Sand the clear coating over the decal. Do not sand the paint job around the decal or rub so hard that you sand through the decal. Your goal is to create a flat, thin coat of clear coating.

  9. 9

    Add shine to the coating. Use an electric buffer and some buffing compound.

Tips and warnings

  • Wait for at least 30 days after you buff the decal before washing and waxing the car as normal.
  • Never use a clear coat spray paint to clear-coat the decal, because it can overspray the decal and get onto the paint job.

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