It was not so long ago that the gel- coat on fiberglass boats couldn’t be painted. The technology just didn’t exist to allow paint to adhere to the
hull with any certainty. Today, painting a
fiberglass hull is common, and topsides
paints are available in a dizzying array of
color options. However, these options are
neither quick nor inexpensive to apply.
Enter a fairly new option: vinyl wrap.
This alternative to paint – you’re probably
seeing it on more commercial fleet automobiles with logos these days – is perfect
for quickly sprucing up a tired boat or
adding customization that will turn heads.
Vinyl wrap is durable, hard-wearing,
and appears to stand up well to abuse,
as demonstrated by its extensive use on
Volvo Ocean Race round-the-world sailing yachts, high-performance speedboats,
and tournament fishing boats. Sponsors
love to have their logos emblazoned on
the sides of a boat, but that shouldn’t
exclude us everyday boaters from getting
creative with our freeboard. A properly
applied boat wrap can cost far less than a
top-notch paint job – as in about 60- to
70-percent less, depending on the boat
type and size – and the process can take
hours, rather than days or weeks.
From an owner’s point of view, hull
graphics can look spectacular, ranging
from solid colors to entire printed scenes.
Available colors and patterns are limited
mostly by your imagination. If you love
dolphins, you can have leaping dolphins
on the side of your boat. Mermaids?
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Your daughter’s name and photo? Your
favorite sports team? Why not?
Before you let your imagination run
wild, here are some basics to help you
decide if vinyl is the right alternative
for your boat. Most wrap films will last
around seven years and are fairly easily
removed before then. (Note that seven
years is an estimate, and any number
of environmental factors can shorten or
lengthen that time frame. But at about
the seven-year mark, the film starts to
lose some of its color and will become
harder to remove.)
Know your film
Before investing in vinyl wrap, you
should understand the technology
behind it. According to yacht paint con-
sultant Ken Hickling, former president
of Awlgrip, “There are several types of
film, and a wrap should always be done
with cast vinyl. There are several types of
quality wrap vinyls that vary significant-
ly in cost from inexpensive to high-end
films costing considerably more, but still
a lot cheaper than a paint job.”
Printed cast film gets laminated;
color-change films are cast and don’t
require lamination. Think of it like lam-
inating paper, a similar process. The
lamination protects the paper.
These films vary in their life expectancy, removability, and ease of installation. Work with your local wrap expert
to find the right film for your project.
The least expensive film is manufac-
That’s a wrap!
Have you admired boats with fancy graphics on the side?
Chances are those designs are made of vinyl. Here’s what
you need to know if you want the look
BY ROGER MARSHALL
is possible with a
film coating. Try
doing this with a