We have researched, tested and reached out to some of the leading spray paint companies in the United States to get more information on what clear sealants work best on our waterslide decal paper for Inkjet printers. We wanted to find out first hand from these companies if their products were considered waterproof, water resistant, water repellent or none of the above. We also wanted to know what the manufacturers recommended cure time was and if they thought their products would work well to seal our inkjet waterslide decal paper. This blog post summarizes our research, clear spray manufacturers recommendations and testing so that you can choose a clear acrylic spray that will give your waterslide projects the best results.
*A note on our test methods: All sealants were sprayed on the same day in the same location. All waterslide decal sheets were sealed with three coats of sealant and had a three minute dry time between each coat of sealant. We performed two cure time tests: The first we left the paper to dry for 5 minutes after the clear coat was applied. The second test we left the paper to dry for 24 hours before submerging in water. Once the decal was placed in the water all decals were tested for activation, quality and durability every 30 seconds. We’ve listed the best working sealants with our waterslide paper in order of best performing at the top.
Notes from the manufacturer: Company states this product is considered cured within 24 hours when applied in a controlled environment with temps around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Decreased temperatures may call for longer cure times. Increased temperatures may call for less cure time. Product is not waterproof but is considered water resistant, which is a step above water repellant. Products may be submerged in water for short periods of time and should be able to withstand outside elements for a good amount of time.
5 minute cure time after three coats were applied: Decal was submerged in water for two minutes and 30 seconds and held up with no issues. Decal was intact and durable. Applied with no issues.
24 hour cure time after 3 coats were applied: Decal was submerged in water for two minutes and 30 seconds before it became activated. The Decal was intact and durable and applied seamlessly.
Notes from the manufacturer: Cure time is 7 days. It is not considered waterproof or water resistant. May repel water after the 7 day cure time. Company states none of their products are made to be submerged in water.
24 hour cure time after 3 coats were applied: Performed excellent as listed above.
5 minute cure time after three coats were applied: Unfortunately around 26 seconds of being in the water the decal paper became slimy and around 30 seconds of being in the water the ink started to crack making the decal not usable.
24 hour cure time after 3 coats were applied: When Krylon Colormax was retested using a decal 24 hours after it was sealed we found that the decal stayed intact and transferred well.
Notes from the manufacturer: Cure time to be considered waterproof is 24 hours. When using the aerosol can it is suggested to wait 10-30 minutes in between coats. Company states from their testing it may not have the same "rubber qualities" when used on paper as it does when being applied to other solid surfaces.
5 minute cure time after three coats were applied: From our testing, the decal became slimy and not usable while submerged in water. Many of our customers have recommended sealing with another clear sealant and using Plasti Dip as the final coat.
24 hour cure time after 3 coats were applied: When we retested Plasti Dip Glossifier with the 24 hour cure time we found that after 45 seconds the decal was intact and able to be applied well.
Notes from the manufacturer: Paid’s Mod Podge acrylic sealer cure time is 24 hours in a controlled environment. Company states it should not be submerged in water as the product will break down.
5 minute cure time after three coats were applied: Our testing resulted in the waterslide decal becoming gummy and not usable after being submerged in water for two minutes and 30 seconds.
24 hour cure time after 3 coats were applied: When Plaid Mod Podge Acrylic sealer was retested using 24 hour cure time we found that the decal stayed intact and applied well after being submerged in water for 45 seconds.
Notes from the manufacturer: Cure time is 48 hours or more depending on the environment. All odor must have dissipated in order for it to be considered cured. Duplicolor is recommended for automotive usage and may leave open fibers when applied to paper. It is not considered waterproof or water resistant. It does repel water but only when applied to metal or plastic.
5 minute cure time after three coats were applied: Our testing showed at 1 minute 30 seconds of water submersion the sides start to lift and ink starts to crack. This rendered the decal unusable.
24 hour cure time after 3 coats were applied: When retested 24 hours of cure time we found that after 45 seconds the decal was intact and transferred well.
We were not able to get in contact with the company to get information on their recommended applications.
Flex Seal Clear sealing results on Hayes Paper Co® Inkjet Waterslide Decal Paper
5 minute cure time after three coats were applied: Flex Seal Clear activated at two and a half minutes of being submerged and applied well to surface. It did leave an eggshell texture finish on the decal which wasn’t ideal but it did seal the decal.
24 hour cure time after 3 coats were applied: Decal was submerged in water for two minutes and 30 seconds and was in tack and durable. Eggshell texture finish was still present.
Based on our testing, most clear acrylic sprays will work well if they are left for an appropriate manufacturer's cure time (24 hours or more). If they are not cured for long enough you may get a slimy cracked decal and the inks may run when you submerge your decal in water. If you are in a hurry to complete your decal project we recommend using Rustoleum 2X Clear Gloss or Krylon Triple Thick Crystal Clear. Please keep in mind that sealants react differently depending on humidity and weather so we always recommend you follow the manufacturers cure times or run a test to see what works best in your environment. A handy tip for curing sealants faster is to use a hair dryer (especially during winter), just be sure to hold the hair dryer at a safe distance from the paper, moving the heat evenly across the paper.
We would love to learn more about sealants that have worked well for your waterslide projects. If you need any assistance troubleshooting sealant issues please don’t hesitate to send us an email or check out this blog post and video. We are always happy to help.