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Finishing Decals after set

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  • Member since
    September 2022
  • 3 posts
Finishing Decals after set
Posted by aqueousplanet on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 10:30 AM

Hello all!

I recently started decaling some models. I spray with primer, colored coat, and then clear enamel, before applying the decals with Micro Sol / Set. 

After the decals have dried for a day, I sprayed with Clear Satin finish (spray can). When I do this, my decals start shriveling up and disintegrating. I've stopped spraying anything after for fear that the decals will continue to deform, but I know I should seal the decals in place. What should I be using to seal the decals? I have an air brush but still need to learn how to use it, so would prefer a spray can.

Thanks very much!

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 11:11 AM

That sounds basically like what I do, and I never have any problems.  I use Krylon clear flat rattle can paint.  I use kit decals, third-party decals and inkjet-printed homemade decals.  The decals I print myself also get sprayed with Krylon before application.

Are these old decals, by any chance?

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 11:13 AM

What should I be using to seal the decals?

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I only use Testors #1260 Dullcoat in a spray can.


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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 11:21 AM

My procedure for decal work is quite similar to yours, but I'm guessing that the Clear Satin-finish stuff in the spray can is too strong, and attacks the decals and perhaps the applications used prior to decal work, too.
I use suitable primers and a variety of paints, but the clear coats are always some form of Testors Dulcote or Glosscote...I mix the two depending on what step is being done and on what finish I wish to use.
Whether the two types are combined (often in various amounts, depending on what final effect I want) I always use an equal amount of ordinary lacquer thinner with each mixture of the clear finishes, and have never had unwanted results like your recent experience.
I use an airbrush for pretty-well all painting and definitely for all clear-coat finishing, and have never had the paint (regardless of type) or the decals  destroyed by Testors clear finishes.


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Posted by NVSRR on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 1:03 PM

Almost sounds like the decals never actually bonded to the surface for some reason.   So they couldn't resist the chemical overlay.    

I had bad problems with decals curling, and silvering, and not conforming for years until I found that the gloss coat I was using wasn't vary smooth nor glossy. Like I was applying a satin or flat finish.  Once I use Vallejo. ( what I had I. The paint bucket) on another project, noticed the difference In the shine of the coating and had zero issue with decals.  Maybe the clear coat you are using for gloss coat is not cooperations.  Try a water based clear gloss coat  and see.    

I now use varathane polyurethan.  Same stuff as Vallejo.  Cheaper tho since I do wood working and have quarts of the stuff.  Both gloss and flat.



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Posted by wrench567 on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 3:17 PM


  I don't clear coat before decals. Paint and allow it to dry very well. Decal and allow to dry very well also. When the relative humidity is really low is when the clear coat goes on. I have even baked items (on very low temp) for awhile before the clear. Either dull or gloss. You get better results in low humidity. I suspect that the decal setting solution was not completely dry and some compounds in the solution acted unfavorabley with the clear.


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Posted by aqueousplanet on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 3:26 PM

The decals are brand new and bought from High Ball / Switchline etc. 

This is the clear coat I am using on top of the decals:


This is what I am using before I apply the decals (Testors Enamel Clear):



  • Member since
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Posted by aqueousplanet on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 3:27 PM

Hi Pete

Thanks for your insight. I tried this last summer in New England (so high humidity), so perhaps that may have been the issue! I'll try with less humity and try to get it fully dry.

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 3:34 PM

I like to spray the model with gloss finish before decaling. After the decals have been applied, I add Walthers Solvaset to help the decal "snuggle down" and adhere to the surface - especially important if the decal goes over a rivet line, or on a model of a woodsided car. Only when the decal has had a couple of applications of Solvaset and dried completely do I spray on flat finish.

I use Tamiya gloss and flat spraycans. They're acrylic (water based) and have a finer nozzle than most hardware store spray paint cans will come with.

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Posted by dstarr on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 4:07 PM

You need a clear flat spray to go over the decals to kill the decal gloss and blend the decal into the paint job.  I have used various clear flat sprays over the years.  They allways made the decals crinkle up.  Testor's DulCote does not crinkle the decals.  So I have used nothing but DulCote for the last 20 or 30 years.  It is bit pricey, but flat decals are worth it.  There is probably some more economical clear flat finish out there but I have never found it, nor have I even heard anyone giving the name of something good.  So I stick with DulCote, it works. 

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Posted by PennCentral99 on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 9:00 PM

I use Pledge Floor Finish underneath and overtop of the decals. Last time I bought Pledge it was $8 for a 27 ounce bottle, and I still have a lot left.

The Pledge acts as a gloss base under the decal. It self levels, filling porous surfaces, which helps eliminate the "silvering" effect from light reflection coming from different angles. Once the decal is set, I use Solvaset to soften the decal and blend into the surface, which should be easy considering a gloss layer is underneath. Once the decal is dry, I apply another layer of pledge overtop to seal it prior to dullcote.

I use a brush to apply the pledge in the areas where the decals are going to be applied. Here's one example of my projects, and these are Highball Graphics.....

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 9:12 AM

I recently changed products, and one of the issues I've been having is air gaps between the paint and the decals. As others mentioned, this can be addressed by putting a clear coat on the model before applying the decal for a better bond.

I've read somewhere that you can also apply a coat of microscale liquid decal film on the model first, then apply the decal. I've applied the film immediately before and applied the decal while the film is still wet. It seems to prevent the gap problem, but you need to position the decal fairly quickly.


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