Color and protect your boat with a vinyl wrap.

Wraps aren’t just for company logos and 3D fish designs. Change your boat’s color while protecting the original gelcoat.

Most boat manufacturers have some shade of white as a standard color and for good reason. They are interested in selling you on the qualities of their boats and not wanting to also have to sell you on a color. But what if you want to set your new boat apart from the crowd? A hull color can add a rich look to even the most simple of boats. There are three basic ways to add a color to the sides of your boat.

If you’re buying a new boat, you may be able to order it with a colored gel coat. This is going to be the toughest finish and will stand up best to abrasion and UV rays from the sun. Typically it adds some cost to the boat’s purchase price. The manufacturer has a lot of labor tied up in taping off the mold, cleaning spray equipment and tying up the production line.

Paint will also add some dollars to the cost of a boat, but in the case of buying a pre-owned boat, paint is less expensive than having a fiberglass shop re-shoot the hull with gel coat. One negative of having your boat painted is the down time of having your boat sit in a paint shop. The preparation of sanding, fairing and taping off can tie up your boat for weeks.

Prepping the hull for the vinyl wrap.

The third way, a vinyl wrap, costs less than paint and can be applied in just a few hours. The biggest advantage of a wrap is that it’s not permanent. If you tire of a color, you can change it. Another consideration is the day you decide to upgrade and sell your old boat. Just like the boat manufacturer, not only do you have to find a buyer who likes your boat, but now you have to find someone who also likes the same color you do. With a wrap, you simply peel it off, revealing a factory gel finish just as shiny as it was the day the boat was wrapped. The material used in hull wraps is known as cast vinyl. It’s pliable and conforms to angles. It can be applied over fiberglass or aluminum.

Albert Hatfield, a PDAA Master- Certified Installer at Sign Jungle in Stuart, Florida, wraps about a dozen boats per year, in addition to numerous cars and trucks. He recommends washing the wrap with boat wash soap, water and a clean mitt or sponge. Hand-wax (no power buffer) twice a year, preferably with a synthetic wax.

The wrap being applied to the hull.

“No stiff brushes or pressure washing,” Hatfield advises. “And any new products you might use should be tested in a small, inconspicuous area before applying across the entire wrap. Absolutely no bleach, or harsh or abrasive chemicals. To remove stains, 70 percent alcohol should do the trick.”

One recent Sign Jungle boat wrap project involved a 30-foot power catamaran. The total cost came to $2,600—less than half of a $6,500 estimate for paint. The typical cost, according to Sign Jungle, is $13 to $15 per square foot.

Wraps offer the flexibility of fading colors into each other, adding boat names or FL numbers and graphics that can go from plain to wild. FS

Boating Editor, Dave East, discusses the perks of wrapping your boat in the video below.

Florida Sportsman Magazine November 2014

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