Waterslide Decal FAQ's

Below are our most common questions about using waterslide decal papers. If something has gone wrong with your application see the Help My Decal Is Not Working section at the bottom of the page. 

How do I apply a waterslide decal?

Please see our “Application Instructions” tab for detailed instructions. The instructions vary slightly between laser and inkjet papers. 

Inkjet Waterslide Instructions

Laser Waterslide Instructions


What is the optimal water temperature for soaking a decal? 

Between 77°F -  86°F or 25°C-30°C. If the water is cooler it may take longer to release from the backing. 


What’s the difference between the transparent decal and the white waterslide decal? 

The clear or transparent decal is see through so the base color of your object will show through your printed design. This is good for glass, stainless steel or light colored objects. If you do not want your base material to show through the design a white waterslide will be better. The white decal has an opaque base color and is great for applying onto darker surfaces. We created a Youtube video to help show you the difference. 

Can I use laser waterslide paper on an inkjet printer?

No, you must match the printer type to the paper type. For example use inkjet waterslide paper with an inkjet printer. 

Can I cut The waterslide paper with my Cricut or machine cutter?


What is the waterslide decal paper thickness paper weight? 

The total paperweight is 210 microns or 200 GSM.


What Waterslide paper should I use with a DeskJet printer?

Use inkjet waterslide decal paper. 


What programs would you suggest for designing water slide decals?

You can use many different types of programs for designing decals. For basic text or images you can use Microsoft Word, for photos you can use the photo editing programs that come with your computer, machine cutters like Circuit come with design software that can be used to edit and resize a design. You can use paid programs like Canva or Adobe Photoshop for more complex designs. We recommend saving your finished decal to 300DPI print resolution for best results. 


Are Waterslide decals permanent? 

No, they are recommended more for decorative uses and can be sealed to offer a more permanent solution. More on that below. 


Is the waterslide decal dishwasher safe? 

No, once applied to ceramics it is not dishwasher safe and must be hand washed. Do not use abrasive brushes or sponges. No soaking and no use of harsh cleaning chemicals.

Is the waterslide decal microwave safe?

No, waterslide decals are not made to withstand high heat. We don't recommend you put your decal or sealed decal in the microwave. 


Are decals food safe?

The decals are recommended more for decorative purposes and we do not recommend placing them in contact with food or liquid that you consume. 

How can I permanently seal waterslide decals?

There are a few options and it depends what you are sealing over. If the decals are more for decorative use, like a glass block you can seal them with two coats of clear acrylic spray. We recommend Rust-Oleum 2 X Clear. Mod Podge can also be used and has a really long cute time to be considered dishwasher safe.

For sealing decals on tumblers you can use epoxy or a non-epoxy sealant called Crystalac. You can try 2K urethane although it is an expensive option for a single tumbler. 

190 lacquer and transparent varnishes should work too but we recommend patch testing before applying to an entire project.

Please note all these sealants require proper safety equipment as some contain harmful chemicals. We recommend you follow the manufacturer's safety instructions when handling. 

Is curing waterslide paper in an oven necessary?

No. Baking waterslide decals in an oven  just helps speed up the curing process. Waterslide decals can and will cure naturally when left to dry in about 24-48 hours.

How do you remove a waterslide decal once it is dry? 

Once cured it can be a bit difficult to remove waterslide decals. Try soaking in hot water, you can scrape it off while it is soaking or you could also use the product Goo Gone to remove the decal. For a natural removal alternative, try soaking the decal in vinegar.


What sealant or acrylic spray should I use to seal waterslide decals? 

Firstly, only Inkjet waterslide decals must be sealed. Laser waterslide decals do NOT need to be sealed. We recommend using Rustoleum 2X Clear to seal waterslides and have tested several other sealants on our blog post; The Best Clear Sealants To Use On Waterslide Decal Paper. Any clear acrylic spray should work to seal decals but setting times vary so follow the manufacturer's instructions. We recommend using three, even layers of acrylic spray before soaking the decal.  


How long should you leave the printed paper to cure or dry before applying to the surface?

Waterslide paper performs differently under different weather and humidity conditions. If the room temperature is lower than 68°F/ 20°C or humidity is more than 40%, the ink on the paper and or the acrylic spray may take longer to dry than before. If conditions aren’t ideal in where you live, you can use a hair dryer on high heat to help expedite the process. Set the hair dryer on high and hold the hair dryer 10-12” from the paper and move across the paper evenly for 10 minutes. You may need to clip or weigh down the paper to avoid it blowing away.

Can I epoxy over a decal?

Yes, many of our customers seal waterslide decals permanently using epoxy resins. Make sure the decal is fully dry (48 hours) before applying epoxy. Follow the manufacturer's cure times and use the recommended safety equipment as many of these epoxies contain harmful chemicals. 

What is the natural cure time for waterslide decal paper once applied to a surface?

Dry out of direct sunlight for 36-48 hours. If the climate you live in is warmer 36 hours if cooler 48 hours.  You can speed up the natural cure time by using a hair dryer on high heat for 10 minutes. Hold the hair dryer 10-12” from the surface and move across the design evenly. Please note this is only recommended on surfaces such as ceramic, wood, metal or thick plastics (other materials like candles may melt).

What type of printer ink is the best to use with decal paper?

Pigment or dye inks  both work well.

Can waterslide decals be fired on porcelain, china or ceramics ?

No, unfortunately not.* The cure temperature should be under 390 Fahrenheit 200 degrees celsius. Fired-on Images sell a ceramic decal or you can contact your local pottery shop to ask for their product recommendations. 

*We do have a customer that uses our Laser clear paper in the ceramic Kiln. They take a fully glazed, fired piece and transfer a decal onto it.  They use a toner with 40% ferrite, when they fire the piece again (to a lower temp) everything burns out except the iron. The glaze re-melts, the ferrite sinks into the glaze a little, and everything cools. The iron image is permanent and food safe. We can not guarantee this will work as each ceramic glaze and kiln is different but you could purchase a sample to test it and see if it works. Let us know how it goes!  

Can waterslide decals be used on wood surfaces?

Waterslide decals can only be applied to watertight or well sealed wood. It can not be applied to naked wood or unsealed wood because the decal uses water to activate and wood expands and contracts when wet so it can cause the decal to dry and distort. We recommend you do a test patch before applying to a finished project to make sure it will work without damaging the sealed wood.  

Is waterslide decal paper recyclable?

There are multiple layers to waterslide decal paper. The "decal" layer may contain ink and any type of sealant coat you applied to it and will not be recyclable. The dextrose or "sticky" layer will wash off and dissolve as it is sugar based. The paper backing can be washed and recycled into your paper recycling bin.  

Is waterslide paper biodegradable or compostable? 

No, we do not  recommend composting any of this paper as it has been treated with coatings that are not biodegradable. Once you remove the decal the paper backing can be washed and recycled. The decal film or bonded decal should go in the regular trash bin. 

Can you screen print solvent based inks onto the decal paper?

No, we do not recommend this. 

Once the waterslide decal is removed, what kind of backing is it?

PE composite chrome paper

Is waterslide decal paper vegan?

Yes, there are no animal products used in the ingredients. 

Can you use eco-solvent Inks on Waterslide Decals or Vinyls?

No, unfortunately not at this stage. The ink would smear and would damage the printer 

Can you use waterslide decals to make temporary tattoos? 

Unfortunately not, we do not recommend these for skin, just objects. We hope to have some skin specific tattoo paper soon, stay tuned.


How do I make the colors more vibrant on a clear Waterslide decal?

Due to the clear nature of the decal, lighter colors can appear less vibrant than darker ones in a design. There are few things you can consider trying to get a more vibrant color. You can change the colors on your design to be a bit darker or more saturated to help counterbalance this in the colors you think are coming out too light. For example if a yellow is printing too light you can make the yellow on your design darker or a deeper yellow to get the desired effect. 

Another tip is to layer two clear decals over each other which lifts the vibrancy. We have a You tube video showing this, check it out

Finally, consider if a white decal would be better for your application. White decals have an opaque background so colors show up accurately on the white background. If you’re not sure the difference between the two you can check out this video

Can acetone be used on waterslide decals?

No, we do not recommend using acetone based products on our decals. 

Can you print Waterslide decals using an ALPS printer? 

An ALPS printer is neither an inkjet printer or laser printer so due to it being a completely different type of printer and thermal base, we do not recommend using it with our waterslide decal papers. However you can, at your own risk, test the decal paper or use other people's print recommendations for ALPS printers using waterslide papers. 

How should I store my waterslide decal paper?

Store unused paper in a cool, dry area, out of direct sunlight


Help My Decal Is Not Working 


Waterslide paper curling once applied 

If a decal is applied to a sealed surface the decal should not be curling or peeling off. If it is curling there are two things to check. The first is whether the surface you are applying to is watertight/ waterproof? If it is not waterproof, for example unsealed wood, that surface will absorb the water from the decal and it will not adhere to the surface. The second thing to check is whether you have applied the decal the correct way around. The decal should be applied to the surface with the sticky side (where the paper was removed) against the surface. If you reverse the decal the adhesive side will be on the outside and so will not adhere to the surface. 

Backing Not Peeling

There are a few things that may cause the packing not to slide from the decal. The most common is the time left in the water. Although the recommended time that a decal should slide off is 30-60 seconds, water temperature and other factors can affect the slide time. Be patient and leave the decal submerged until it begins to slide, test by gently rubbing it between your thumb and fingers. If it doesn’t slide after 5 minutes, the problem is something else. The best water temperature is  77°F-  86°F or 25°C-30°C.

The common mistake people make is cutting and sealing the decal, rather than sealing the decal while it is still part of the larger sheet of paper. Spraying the edges of a decal with sealant can cause it to glue together and make it not slide when it is submerged in water. 

The Ink is running

Make sure you are using an inkjet printer with the inkjet paper or a laser paper with a laser printer. The paper will not work correctly if the wrong printer is used.

Laser waterslide decal paper does not need to be sealed but the inkjet paper MUST be sealed with a clear acrylic spray three times otherwise the inks will run. Not all sealants are created equally and are often the cause of running inks. If you do not follow the manufacturer's dry time they may not be watertight and so the ink will run. We recommend  using Rustoleum 2X Clear sealant. 

If you have cut your decal too close to the printed edge it may break the seal of the decal and cause the ink to run. We recommend leaving a 1-3mm border around your decal to avoid ink running. 

The decal has turned into a blob or goop

Most likely if your decal has gone mushy it has either been submerged for way too long in water or there is a problem with the sealant (if you used one). To avoid over soaking a decal you can feel with your fingers when it starts to slide off the backing. When it moves, it is ready to be placed on your surface (normally 30-60 seconds). 

If you sealed your inkjet decal and it has gone mushy in water, it could be your sealant. When testing some sealants for our blog, some didn’t work well when soaked in water.  Our favorite sealant is Rustoleum 2X Clear sealant. 

The decal is cracking

Usually this is an issue with the clear acrylic sealant you have used, not the paper. It may be that the sealant has not dried fully before submerging the decal or it may not be a suitable sealant.  We recommend sealing our decals with Rustoleum 2X Clear sealant or using one of the recommended ones on our blog post

Check out our Blog for tips and tricks on crafting and see your YouTube channel for helpful videos. If your question is not listed above or you are having trouble applying the paper please email us at hello@hayespaper.com or call us at PH +1 (415) 915-5737. If you can take a photo of the problem and include it in your message, it will help us troubleshoot any issues faster. 

Happy Creating!