ArticleBoatingService Repair

Wrapped Up

The sluggish economy has you feeling blue and the boat dealer down the street is practically giving away 2009 leftovers, yet under no circumstances can your current budget allow you to justify an upgrade right now. What should you do? You could crumble, mope around and pout about your economic distress, or you could be happy as heck that you have a boat of any kind-regardless if it’s seasoned or not. Quite possibly your precious platform needs some tender loving care. Perhaps this isn’t the case at all. Maybe you’re still in puppy love and you wouldn’t trade in your boat for anything in the world, yet your gelcoat has seen better days and you want to spruce up your baby’s aesthetics. A custom paint job isn’t an option as this would result in a hefty invoice and potential marriage counseling, not to mention some serious time out of the water. Either way, if you’re looking to protect your hull while simultaneously increasing your boats on the water presence and value, a catchy boat wrap may be just what the proverbial doctor ordered.


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Photo: Steve Dougherty

Basically, a boat wrap is a giant sticker. Printed on an adhesive-backed laminate vinyl, boat wraps are thick, durable, and scratch resistant, not to mention they typically come with a 5-year warranty. The beauty of this increasingly popular aftermarket accessory is that the benefits are many, and the design options are endless and limited only by your imagination. Boat wraps not only look good, they actually do an excellent job at protecting a new boat’s glossy finish and original luster, or hiding an existing vessel’s rapidly fading appeal.

Printed on an adhesive-backed laminate vinyl, boat wraps are thick, durable, and scratch resistant…

If you have your sights on the professional tournament circuit then you’re probably thinking about a head-turning design with numerous color combinations and captivating graphics. If you’re more conservative and simply interested in preserving your vessels original finish, then a solid color boat wrap might be the best choice for you. Regardless, there are certain steps that must be followed in designing, printing, and installing a boat wrap to ensure the final product not only looks great, but also withstands the harsh elements and causes no damage to the hull. Boat wrapping is serious business, one that demands specialized materials and installation techniques, so make sure you contract a reputable company that has years of experience. References are a good idea.

Designing the graphics is possibly the most complicated step in the entire process. Because of the degree of difficulty, the design team will first consult with you on your desires and then walk you through the options. Make sure you are 100-percent satisfied with the final design before singing off on the proof. Once this phase is complete, the appropriate size high-resolution graphic will be printed by a state-of-the-art vinyl laminate printer utilizing specialized inks. These inks are solvent-based and bond to the vinyl through a molecular process. Solvent inks are flexible, which allows the wrap to flex and form-fit the hull without the ink cracking. For a durable and protective finish, an ultraviolet laminate is placed on top of the printed vinyl.

Now it’s time for your vessel to be prepared for installation by removing dirt, grime and grease from the hull. Meticulous wiping with isopropyl alcohol or mineral spirits will provide a clean slate. An experienced installer will start by hanging either the starboard or port decal along the appropriate side of the hull, from bow to stern. The adhesive is pressure activated so there’s no need to use solvents or soaps that could potentially leave a sticky residue. The technician stretches the wrap over the hull’s contours and features while accounting for thru-hull fittings. Once the graphic is in the perfect position, the craftsman removes air pockets and wrinkles with a squeegee. Surprisingly, a hand-held blowtorch is then used to help remove final wrinkles and remaining air pockets. A typical installation is generally completed in a single day, so you don’t have to worry about losing too much precious time off the water. However, leading installers do recommend leaving the boat high and dry for at least 24-48 hours.

Vinyl boat wraps provide aesthetic appeal and head-turning looks while simultaneously protecting your investment, or providing a much needed face-lift. If you ever decide to remove or replace your boat wrap, you can rest assure that your hull will look identical to the day the wrap was applied.

Reputable Wrappers

A & B Printing (Cocoa Beach)

BlackJack Wraps (New Port Richey)

Exotic Signs (Hypoluxo)

GT Designs USA (Sarasota)

Image Graphics 2000 (Pompano)

Mad Graphics (Tampa)

Sign Zoo (Sarasota)

Skinz Wraps (Miami)