How to Seal Hayes Paper Co® Waterslide Paper

Sealing decal paper, waterslide decal paper, Hayes paper co

Some of the most frequent questions and errors in applying Inkjet waterslide decal or water transfer paper are related to the sealing process. It is a critical step to creating successful waterslide decal projects. We have created a more thorough explanation and step by step guide on how to correctly seal Hayes Paper Co® waterslide decals for application below, check it out.


Do you need to seal all types of waterslide decal paper?

You only need to seal Inkjet waterslide paper (printed using an inkjet printer) and both clear and white inkjet waterslide must be sealed. If you purchased our Hayes Laser Waterslide paper you DO NOT need to seal it. For laser printed decals, you MUST use a laser printer to print the image and then can simply skip the sealing part. For Laser printed decals, if you do seal the decal it is ok too but is not essential. See the Basics below to make sure you are setting up the printer settings correctly. 


Why do you need to seal Inkjet waterslide paper?

Waterslide decal paper uses water to activate the adhesive that sticks your image to a surface. If you do not seal your inkjet printed image with a clear, acrylic sealant your ink will run off the paper once you submerge your decal into the water. 


What type of sealant should you use for Inkjet Waterslide Decal Paper? 

Any clear acrylic-based sealant or clearcoat will work on our Hayes Paper if applied correctly (see instructions below). We recommend using Rust-Oleum 2X Clear and Rust-Oleum Crystal Clear Enamel for sealing our waterslide - these work great every time. You must use a spray based sealant, we do not recommend painting or rolling sealant over the paper. We've actually tested several brands of clear acrylic spray to see what works best, read our results here


Step by step how-to seal your Hayes Waterslide Image:


THE BASICS - Paper and printer set up for inkjet or laser decals

  1. Print on the Glossy Side Only: Set your printer to print on high quality “glossy photo paper.” Always make sure that you are ready to print on the glossy side. You will not be able to properly seal/apply your product without doing this.
  2. Printer Settings: Make sure that you check your printer settings. The size of waterslide decal paper is “A4” (approximately 11.69 inches x 8.27 inches). After you have reviewed and confirmed that your image is uploaded, edited and resized to fit your project, simply go ahead and print to your home-based inkjet printer.
  3. Let the Printed Image Dry: Once you have printed your image onto your Hayes Waterslide Decal paper allow your paper to sit and dry. Give it at least three (3) minutes to fully dry out. Do not rush this step. If you are using a laser printer and paper you can move on to cut and apply your decal and skip the sealing steps below. 

How-to spray your sealant

Be sure to spray outside or in a well-ventilated area to protect your respiratory system for inhaling the sealant, wearing a mask or respirator is also an excellent safety practice. To seal your project, you will need to coat your image with at least three coats of clear spray paint / sealant. Spraying your coats of sealant too heavily on your image may cause running of ink and or sealant. Applying the sealant too heavy on your waterslide can also cause cracking in the ink and final decal.

  1. Keep the whole A4 sheet of paper intact, DO NOT cut out your decal before sealing. If you cut your decal out and then spray it, it will glue the slides to the backing and the paper backing may not release when submerged into water.  
  2. Place newsprint, cardboard or something to protect the spray surface. Place your decal paper, printed side up. If spraying outside be careful of wind, spray in a sheltered area.
  3. Start by spraying a light even coat of the clear spray paint over your printed image. Hold the spray can about one foot or 30cm from the decal paper. Be sure to spray each coat in a different direction, such as up and down, side to side and diagonally across the image.
  4. Let your first coat completely dry before applying the next coat. Some brands of acrylic sealer do have a longer cure time than others, this should be taken into consideration and we recommend you use manufacturers recommendation of dry time.
  5. Once the first coat is completely dry you can spray your second coat. When spraying your second coat apply it a bit heavier than the first coat that you just applied.
  6. Again, you will want to let this 2nd coat dry completely before applying your third coat. Now that you are ready to apply your third and final coat you will want to again spray a little heavier than your prior coats to make sure that your image(s) have a nice full coverage.
  7. Let your freshly sealed image sit and dry for approximately three (3) minutes before moving forward to the next application step. 
sealing waterslide decal paper, Hayes paper co, decal paper

You have worked hard to get everything this far, but it could all be ruined if you do not properly seal your product image. We hope these Steps on How-to properly seal your Hayes Waterslide Paper will help you to create some great products. For a full set of application instructions, check out our application instructions or other blog posts