How to Remove Decal

I’d like to remove the scratched up “Dagger” decals from my Meridian. Otherwise, the boat looks like new, but the decals are dinged and look awful. How can I remove them? Will solvents do the job without hurting the gel coat?


Try a heat gun/blow dryer. Start at one edge and peal off. Keep the heat moving in circles.

Followed by Goo Gone
to remove the adhesive. You can borrow my heat gun if you like.

Will remove decals and any residue and will not harm gel coat. Be sure to use in well ventilated area and with gloves.

Blow dryer and rubbing alcohol
Use the blow-dryer to remove decal and the rubbing alcohol to remove any glue residue. Safe, available, and user friendly.

You probably have both around the house. Nothing toxic to breathe, both at hand, nothing to buy.

Anti-American tho!
…BUY! - Consume! The economy is at stake!

(Shufflin’ off towards B&B now…move along, nuthin ta see here…)

won’t harm gel coat
Unless you are actually using acetone on gel coat. Be vary careful about how much you use and how long it sits on the boat because acetone WILL harm gelcoat. You’ll hear a lot of people say quick wipe with a soaked rag and you’ll be okay, and a it’s probably true, a single quick wipe will not cause noticeable affects. However, using acetone to scrub and you’ll watch your rag change color as the acetone picks up pigment from the boat. Acetone will do two things depending on how cross-linked the gelcoat is. It will either dissolve it, which is a worry if you are working in a concentrated area, or it will cause the gel coat to expand, like a sponge soaking in water. The gelcoat will be seriously weakened and will eventually fail by fracture.

Using heat is the best method as it the adhesive destabilizes at a much lower temperature than which will harm the boat. Goo Gone is the best product I’ve used for removing residual adhesive residues.

I’ve had luck with
oven cleaner on gelcoat. It removes all kinds of stuff, including dried on varnish. Spray it on, wait a few minutes, wipe it off. It’s the oven cleaner you use cold. I’d try to get the outer waterproof coating of the sticker off first.

good caveats

– Last Updated: Jan-16-09 5:41 PM EST –

Will Goo Gone remove epoxy, such as 3M Marine 5200?

I've tended to work my way up starting with some common cleaner such as Windex, through Black Steak Remover and rubbing alchohol. Only after those have failed do I use acetone. A small amount on a cloth (used outdoors) removes that which previous attempts did not.

Sounds weird
but try one of those “mosquito wipes”, Deep Woods brand I think. It takes off tree sap and lots of other things really well. (and we are supposed to wipe it on our skin?) Don’t get it near latex gaskets on your dry suit though, I learned the hard, expensive way.

That sounds like the
DEET. It will eat everything, including your liver …

If nothing else…
Go to an auto body supply shop and ask for a can of decal remover. It takes off the racing stripes, etc from autos and doesn’t harm the finish.


Be very careful with a heat gun and acetone. Heat gun can get hot enough to melt gel-coat and fiberglass. Acetone can score and dull both. Goo-Gone and then alcohol. It will take longer but you won’t damage your boat. Vaughn Fulton

5200 is an adhesive/sealant…
If still wet it wipes right off but once it’s ‘kicked’ forget it! Maybe a very sharp chisel if you’re looking to level an overflow to the surface. Outside of that drilling maybe the only way.

Plastic razor blades
Lee Valley sells them (LV sells loads of clever stuff…a wonderful resource). There is an orange one (stiffer) and a yellow one (more flexible). I use these to remove annual pass decals from my windshield. The yellow one works best for this, as the windshield has some curvature to it. Probably the same for your kayak. Then use a mild cleaner to remove any stubborn adhesive after the decal itself is removed. I use low-odor mineral spirits on a paper towel, but for gel coat I’d try several passes with citrus cleaner instead.

Acetone does remove dried 5200
I ask about Goo Gone removing 5200, because one of my uses of acetone has been to remove such - especially from gel coat.

Acetone is extremely toxic. I would appreciate a less harmful cleanser/solvent to remove very stubborn stuff.

blow dryer

Thanks all
Thanks for the ideas - I’ll mull this over before I attack. May try the wife’s hair drier first…


Heat Gun, Goo Gone!
A heat gun is a hair dryer used in a garage. It remains just a hair dryer. The Goo Gone will take the remaining glue off without hurting the plastic.


Whoa there
A heat gun is much hotter than a hair dryer.