Decal Paper UK (FAQS + Shop)

Decal Paper - Popular Questions Answered

What is decal paper used for?

Quite often the first time people saw water slide paper in the UK was many decades ago inside Airfix model kits and used to apply the decals onto miniature models. 

The blank printable decal sheets were however being used by manufacturers in China and across the world to apply custom transfers onto just about everything from tools to toys for resale to the west.

In around 2008 the blank decal paper sheets were made available to the UK general public and quickly picked up by miniature modelling enthusiasts who wanted to be able to print their own custom decals for themselves.  In many cases,  it was nearly impossible to find the exact decal available to buy and so being able to print any transfer for themselves was invaluable.

Today,  both laser and inkjet waterslide decal paper is used by hobbyists and small business owners to create their own decals for hundreds of completely different projects from candle making to custom mugs and from nail art to temporary tattoos.

Decal Paper Infographic

decal paper uk infographic

Providing the surface is hard and non porous,  it can be transferred onto with any design, image, photograph or text.

Can you use decal paper on wood?

Yes it can but the wood needs to be completely flat and smooth alike bamboo or a flat, smooth varnished surface which will allow for the water transfer papers adhesive qualities to take.  If the surface is rough, textured or grainy,  your decal will most likely peel off.  

If the wooden surface is flat and white,  we recommend switching to the dry rub decal film.  The Dry Rub only comes in clear and is not available in white and so if the wooden surface is smooth but of a dark colour,  you'll need to switch to the white decal paper and check your design is suitable.

Best printer for waterslide decals

Users of decal paper are split between home users and small businesses.  For the home user,  a standard home inkjet printer is usually perfectly fine on waterslide paper. There is no water decal printer as such for home.  I would however recommend avoiding photo printers to be on the safe side as well as companies who are not known for being a printer maker.  Print quality problems are extremely rare for home users.

Small and medium sized businesses printing decals in larger numbers always opt for a laser printer.  This is simply because it saves time and money as no clear varnish is required.  Its just a case of print, cut, dip and slide on.

Contrary to what you might think,  simply home laser printers often work the best with decal paper.  It's actually the very expensive professional laser printers that we occasionally see issues with.  This is due to the extremely high temperatures that these particular printers print at which can distort the print.

In most cases printing is just carried out in normal paper print mode.  Sometimes an adjustment is necessary to better the print by changing to "thick paper" or glossy presentation paper.  This is done in your printer settings on screen.

Can decal paper be purchased in the UK?

Wondering where to buy inkjet waterslide paper? Right here at our UK Mr Decal Paper Shop.  Click on the home button above to see some.  We have Clear, White and Blue for both inkjet and laser printers and in both A4 and A3.

What is decal paper?

Decal paper is a chemically produced film that is sprayed onto a release backing paper during manufacture.  It dries and is then ready to cut up and pack to sell onto customers.  Customers receive what looks like a regular pack of paper which is thicker than regular printer paper.

After printing onto the film side,  cut out and dipped into water,  the film (your decal) releases from the backing paper and the backing paper is then discarded after transferring your printed decals onto your surface.

Decal Paper is manufactured as both a decal printer paper for inkjet and a decal printer paper for laser. Its important to choose the correct type for your printer as choosing incorrectly will result in a poor quality unusable decal sheet or even worse,  a damaged print head when putting inkjet decal paper through a laser printer.

Best waterslide decal paper

Back in 2011 when Mr Decal Paper was borne,  we tested 11 printable decal sheets from different manufacturers and were surprised at how the quality varied.  It really is a case of buy cheap, buy twice and we knew that quality was everything if we were to get repeat customers.

Only one manufacturer produced a solid decal paper which ticked all of the boxes in terms of being thin enough to be a decal,  strong enough so as to not break up after releasing from the water and have a print quality as good as a regular piece of printer paper.

Today,  we still use the same manufacturer and they have worked effortlessly to maintain their advantage against other manufacturers and we receive customer testimonials every month from our army of repeat buyers,  like Steve below.

decal paper review


Difference between Clear Decal Paper and White

When learning about decal printing for the first time,  this is where to start.  The Clear water transfer paper is a clear film on a white backing sheet which is discarded.  Printer ink or toner does not provide a solid background and so when using the Clear,  your surface has to be white or a very light shade.

The upside to this is that you can literally print any design, text, photograph or artwork onto a hard surface and it will look as good as it did on your PC.

The White decal sheets retain a solid white background and so all areas of space within a design will remain white.  For instance,  if you print out a rectangle of red text to put on a dark surface,  the space around the red text will remain white.  You won't have just the red text.

For this reason,  certain designs work perfectly,  whilst others may need tweaking or may not be possible.  A rectangular photograph for instance can be cut out as the rectangle and transfer perfectly.  As would any country flag for instance.

If you are still not sure if white's for you,  just print your decal design onto a regular piece of white paper,  cut it out and ask yourself if you'd be happy sliding it onto your darker surface as your decal.  If the answer is yes,  then the white is a good choice. 

Want to see the top 17 paper craft projects often used for decal paper? 

Visit my other article below or visit our UK shop home page.

Top 17 Craft Projects for Decal Paper

Mr Decal Paper Shop UK