Boat Wrapping ProcessAPRIL 10, 2020| SpeedPro
Boat wrapping is regularly employed by companies and individuals to add extra visual appeal and protect the boat’s surface from damage. To ensure the boat wrap attracts new business, improves brand recognition and stands up to the test of time, a boat wrap needs to be installed correctly.
To get the most out of your boat wrap, whether for a personal or commercial boat, you’ll need to know what a proper boat wrapping process looks like. In this guide, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions for how to wrap a boat.
Can You Wrap a Boat Yourself?
Generally, you shouldn’t try to wrap a boat on your own — it’s best to hire a professional to do it for you. The wrapping process is painstaking and requires extreme precision to make sure the graphic is as attractive as possible. If you try to wrap a boat without the proper tools or experience, you could end up harming the wrap’s lifespan and compromising its visual appeal.
Even though the application of boat wrap is best left to the professionals, it’s still a good idea for consumers to know what goes into the boat wrapping process. This way, you can properly vet the companies that will install the boat wrap. When you know the best practices associated with boat wrapping, you can weed out companies who aren’t committed to doing the job right.
How to Wrap a Boat
First, you’ll need to make sure the company conducting the installation has all the materials needed to wrap the boat appropriately. After gathering the materials, they’ll need to follow the appropriate steps to make sure the wrap is properly installed onto the boat’s surface.
An improperly installed boat wrap can look unappealing, with the graphics and lettering obscured. Even if the graphics look decent, a wrap that hasn’t been installed correctly can have a reduced lifespan, as it will often be more susceptible to wear and tear.
The steps for wrapping a boat are as follows:
1. Gather Materials
The first step is to ensure that whoever is completing the installation has the proper materials and equipment to do the job correctly. For starters, and most obviously, you’ll need to have the vinyl wrap with you on the day of installation. The wrap should be printed out and ready to go, with the low-tack adhesive present on the backside of it.
Vinyl wraps can typically be installed with squeegees, a heat gun and tape. The squeegee is used to press the vinyl wrap onto the surface, pushing any air out from under the vinyl wrap before the adhesive fully attaches to the surface. The heat gun helps to provide heat to a vinyl wrap when you need to make the wrap more flexible to assist the installation process.
Other tools include scissions to cut the vinyl wrap when needed and scalpels to help out when precision is needed.
Besides the material and equipment needed for the installation, you also need to have the proper cleaning supplies to ensure the boat’s surface is clean enough for a wrap to be placed on it. The cleaning supplies are up to you, but it’s best to use supplies recommended by the boat manufacturer.
2. Clean the Surface
To begin the application process, the crew installing the vinyl boat graphics should first clean the surface. Those cleaning should make the surface look like new, so there are no contaminants on the surface that could harm the vinyl wrap. Dust is especially dangerous, so it’s key to pay attention to every detail while cleaning. Applying vinyl to an unclean surface will compromise the strength of the vinyl’s adhesive, requiring you to replace the vinyl sooner.
3. Apply the Custom Boat Graphics
After the boat’s surface is immaculate, the crew can begin to apply the wrap onto the boat. As they prepare to install the graphics, they should first plan out how to fit the wrap onto the boat. Plans will usually take into account the boat’s dimensions, so it’s a good idea to have those measurements on hand during this stage of the process.
Once the crew has a plan in place, they will lay the long strips of the vinyl wrap onto the surface, taking great care as it goes around compound curves, hull windows, specialized features and spray rails. This process can take some time and is not for those who are impatient or imprecise. A skilled professional will maintain control over the vinyl, so it looks smooth and tightly adheres to the boat.
The low-tack adhesive on vinyl wrap should let the crew reposition the vinyl as needed. When the crew runs into areas that are particularly hard to reach and place vinyl onto, they should first attempt to use a heat gun to make the wrap more flexible, so it can be placed on especially difficult corners and curves.
After the crew has the placement of the graphics just right, they’ll need to use the squeegee to press the vinyl onto the surface while also pushing the air out that’s underneath it. Any good vinyl wrap supplier will have an adhesive that’s activated by someone squeegeeing out the air. Air bubbles will harm the appearance and durability of boat wraps, so squeegeeing is absolutely necessary. Luckily for the crew, vinyl boat wraps should come with air channels that help air come out easily.
Some marine wraps come with a primer at the edges to make the adhesion process more effective. The crew working on the boat may place clear tape over the edges until the vinyl adhesive fully adheres to a surface. After the vinyl wrap is fully attached to the boat’s surface, the tape can be peeled off, with the wrap fully intact and attached to the surface area.
At this point, the installation process will be done, and the wrap can be taken out on the water.
Though the above information lists out a general application process, you should also be aware crews will likely use specialized adhesion tools, scissions and scalpels to help the application process along. Tools like a scission can cut the vinyl wrapping perfectly, while a scalpel will help in areas that need a fine touch. Additionally, any crew should have multiple hands on deck to make sure the installation is done correctly.
Choose SpeedPro for All Your Boat Wrap Needs
If you’re looking to add custom boat graphics to your personal boat or commercial fleet, you should take some time to consider all of the advantages SpeedPro can provide companies in the market for boat wraps. As the only nationwide network of studios that specialize in large-format graphics, we pride ourselves on producing vinyl boat wraps out of the most high-quality material and equipment. When you choose SpeedPro, you’re choosing boat wraps that are durable, long-lasting and visually appealing.
Find your local SpeedPro studio to speak with one of our representatives about how we can help you realize your vision.