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Custom graphic for blog post about boat wrap vs. paint

BOAT WRAP VS. PAINT

MAY 22, 2019| SpeedPro Imaging Saint Petersburg

Wrapped or painted? Boat owners have been asking that question since the ‘80s when vinyl wrap first became an option as eye-catching hull protection. So, which is better? Boaters have had almost 40 years to decide, and the results are in — vinyl wraps are leaving paint in the past.

Boat owners and marine professionals choose vinyl wraps for several reasons. The many advantages of boat wraps include creative freedom, easy application, low cost and functionality.

In this quick guide, we’ll go over vinyl boat wrap types, benefits and some common questions.

TYPES OF BOAT WRAPS

  1. Full exterior: This type of wrap protects your entire hull and functions as marine paint would. Many boaters opt for large, solid-colored wraps like white or a dark blue, but if your boat doubles as a floating advertisement, full graphic wraps give you 360 degrees of head-turning visuals.
  2. Partial exterior: For those who want to add accents to their boat without covering the entire hull, partial wraps are the best choice. You can choose to add designs or company images to the side of your vessel and leave the rest the way it is.
  3. Interior wrap: While not as common as external wraps, interior wraps are popular with fishing vessels because they’re easy to clean. They also make it easy to customize interior surfaces with unique designs.

VINYL BOAT WRAP BENEFITS

Boat wraps should not lift or peel if you follow instructions for proper cleaning

In short, vinyl wraps are easier and more versatile. Let’s get into why.

1. CUSTOMIZABILITY

From simple and classic to fully graphic designs — vinyl wraps make customization easy. Instead of hand-painting and costly custom designs that you can’t see until they’re completed, you can preview and tweak your vinyl wrap until it’s exactly what you envision. And with partial wraps and interior options, you control every part of your boat’s look.

If you own or manage a business, there’s no better way to advertise your brand than with graphic wraps. You can turn heads with promotional imagery that’s sure to get a lot of looks, and more looks mean more business.

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), vehicle graphics are one of the lowest-cost forms of advertising available for the number of views they receive. Depending on the location of your vessel, it could receive tens of thousands of views per day — that’s a lot of advertising.

2. DURABILITY

Some argue that marine paint is superior because it lasts longer, but that’s not accounting for repairs and yearly maintenance. Maintaining a painted boat is more difficult than a vinyl-wrapped boat and requires more skill. If vinyl needs a fix, it’s quick and easy. It’s also fade resistant, so there’s no trouble matching your repair color to the rest of the boat. And there’s no need to re-wrap the entire vessel if one area gets damaged.

The durability of your boat wrap also depends on the quality of its materials and installation, which is why it’s crucial to choose a trusted company with an experienced professional team.

Premium-quality vinyl can last up to seven years if applied by a professional, which is as long as some much more expensive marine paint jobs.

3. FAST INSTALLATION

The time you save wrapping your boat instead of painting it can’t be ignored. To paint a boat, you have to haul it out of the water, and it may sit in a shipyard for weeks, which takes away from the time you could be boating.

Full vinyl wraps can be installed within a few days, depending on the size of the vessel. Which means that even if you want to change your vinyl wrap, it’s no significant setback to your boating routine. Vinyl wraps can often be completed in the time it would take just to prep your boat for a new paint job.

4. VALUE

Vinyl wraps usually cost about a third of what marine painting does. If you own or manage more than one boat, wrapping your fleet is much more affordable than painting it — especially if you want to put the same graphic on all of your vessels. Instead of paying an artist to airbrush each one, you can cover your boats in the same printed graphic at a fraction of the cost.

5. EASY MAINTENANCE

With painted hulls, keeping them looking perfect is almost a full-time job. They require buffing, polishing and skilled maintenance.

With vinyl wraps, the only thing you need to get your boat looking brand new is a little soap and water. If you run a charter business, it makes cleaning and getting the boat flawless and client-ready quick and easy.

6. EASY ON, EASY OFF

If you want to remove your vinyl wrap to expose the paint underneath, a professional can remove it quickly with minimal damage to the surface. Some boat managers use vinyl wraps to protect their boats’ original paint or gel coat to preserve resell value. Also, if you want to switch to a new design or graphic for your vinyl wrap, it’s easy to replace with another.

7. ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFER

Since vinyl has no chemicals or solvents needed for its application, it’s safer for a marine environment. Also, cleaning it doesn’t require harsh chemicals.

COMMON CONCERNS

If you’re considering wrapping your boat, you likely have a few questions and concerns. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions:

1. DOES PAINT LOOK BETTER?

Some people worry that a vinyl wrap will look cheesy or not as good as a painted boat, but that isn’t the case. Viny wraps look just as good, if not better than paint jobs. Also, if you don’t keep up with your maintenance on a paint coat, it will start to show signs of wear much faster than a vinyl wrap. Vinyl wraps are easier to keep looking factory new.

Getting a boat wrap used to mean you couldn’t get the shine that some owners like, but with advancements in materials and printing, vinyl wraps look just as good as a freshly waxed and polished gel coat.

2. WILL JOINS BE VISIBLE IN THE VINYL WRAP?

If you inspect a join or a patch closely, you can see where the two meet, but if you don’t know where it is or aren’t very close to it, it usually won’t be noticeable.

3. DOES VINYL WRAP FADE?

Another benefit to vinyl wrapping your boat is that it’s much more fade-resistant than paint. The premium vinyl materials can last up to seven years without fading.

4. WILL VINYL LIFT OR PEEL?

Boat wraps should not lift or peel if you follow instructions for proper cleaning

Boat wraps that have been professionally installed should not lift or peel. To ensure to protect your wrap’s longevity, follow instructions for proper cleaning.

5. HOW DO I MAINTAIN MY VINYL BOAT WRAP?

One of the best parts about a vinyl wrap is its ease of care compared to marine paint.

All you need is marine-safe soap, water and an ultra soft brush if you need extra scrubbing power — never use abrasives or solvents. It’s best to use warm or room temperature water with a wider angle nozzle at least a foot away. And although it may seem like the best way to clean, hot water can harm the vinyl. Avoid using extremely high-pressure washers to clean your wrap — at the right angle, it can lift the edges.

Allowing dirt and grime to build up can harm the quality of your vessel’s graphics and reduce the longevity of your vinyl. Some boat managers recommend a wash schedule to make sure your vessels always look perfect.

Note that after your boat has first been wrapped, you should wait a week or so before any vigorous washing. It’s best to give the vinyl wrap time to thoroughly adhere to the surface of your hull before stressing it.

If you do want to polish your wrap for extra shine, you can do so, but be sure to choose a gentle, high-quality formula that’s safe to use on vinyl and never use an abrasive wax. Never attempt to polish matte-finish or textured wraps.

It’s best to avoid direct sunlight for your boat wrap when it’s not in use. The vinyl wraps are made from UV-resistant material, but the rule of thumb with preserving any graphic is the less sun, the better.

If you store your boat for the off-season, be sure to keep it somewhere out of the sun or get a UV protective cover. This will keep your graphics looking vibrant and increase the longevity of your wrap. Also, check that none of the metal tie-downs for your cover have exposed metal surfaces that could scratch or chafe your hull.

6. IS A BOAT WRAP HEAVY?

Boaters worried about a reduction in performance or speed with a vinyl wrap can rest easy, because the weight of a wrap is generally the same weight, if not lighter than, a paint job. Everyone from pleasure cruisers to sailboat race teams uses vinyl wraps.

7. IS MY BOAT READY FOR WRAPPING?

Your boat's current coat needs to be prepared properly before a new wrap is applied

Your boat’s current coat needs to be prepped properly before a new wrap is applied so that the wrap holds well and has a professional-quality finish.

Here’s what the state of your hull should be like:

  • Flake-free paint or gel coat without chalkiness. Applying a wrap to a surface like this is like trying to apply a sticker to a flaky, dusty surface — it doesn’t hold as well.
  • Dents or dings should be repaired to be flush with the rest of the hull — uneven areas can show beneath the vinyl wrap, causing divots or even bubbles as the temperature changes and the air underneath expands and shrinks.
  • Hull fittings should be clean and free from mold, silicone residue and marine growth like algae.
  • If possible, it’s best to remove your skin fittings, but if not, the vinyl can be trimmed around them instead.

Make sure your boat is ready for a new wrap before you start the process. If you have any questions about the readiness of your boat’s hull or how to prepare it for a wrap, please contact us and ask.

8. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A BOAT WRAPPED?

The time it takes from the moment you contact us to when your boat is wrapped and ready to go depends mostly on the design phase. It can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on if you know exactly what you want and your availability for quick correspondence with our team as we give you feedback.

Once both you and our team approve the final design, production begins, and it can be as soon as four or five days until your boat is wrapped and finished.

9. CAN YOU REPAIR OR CHANGE A BOAT WRAP?

Yes. If you want to change the name of your boat or logos on your graphic design, overlays are easy to apply to your existing wrap.

If a graphic wrap gets damaged, it can be repaired, but sometimes it’s better to replace the entire panel to make sure the image lines up perfectly.

10. WHAT DETERMINES THE COST OF A BOAT WRAP?

What Determines The Cost Of A Boat Wrap

A few things factor into the cost of a wrap, including:

  1. The size of your boat, which affects the amount of vinyl and labor needed
  2. The design time and complexity of your design
  3. The time of the installation
  4. The type and material of vinyl used

11. CAN I WRAP MY BOAT MYSELF?

Some people who wish to apply a simple, non-graphic wrap will sometimes attempt the job themselves, but it’s better not to. It takes years of experience to master this specialized skill and letting a professional help you will result in a better finished product.

While doing it yourself may be enticing to some, these people usually either end up having to wrap their boat again, or the wrap doesn’t last as long. DIY boat wrap jobs just don’t have the same professional finish. We stand behind our workmanship, and our wraps come with a three-year warranty, as long as the wrap is applied to an original, factory paint job.

12. HOW DO THE PROS WRAP BOATS?

Like anything, a professional job requires the right tools and training.

  • Specialty tools: Boat wrapping needs a specialized set of scissions, scalpels and adhesion tools for proper, thorough application.
  • Precision: Only careful attention to detail makes for a finished wrap with minimal bubbles and wrinkles. It takes a steady hand and a skilled eye to get it just right.
  • Professional training: Boat wrapping isn’t something you just pick up in a few days — the pros train with masters who have years of experience and learn the subtle techniques before wrapping themselves. Even small wraps can take a day and multiple pairs of skilled hands.
  • Multiple stages of application: Each section of an application requires a unique solution and careful planning so that everything fits just right.

SPEEDPRO FOR BOAT WRAPS

We’re proud to stand behind our products because they’re made to last. We only use premium, outdoor-durable, UV-resistant material and ink on high-quality media.

Allow us to earn your loyalty with unmatched professionalism and service — fast turnarounds and your design exactly how you want it.

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SpeedPro Imaging Saint Petersburg

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Michael McKenny

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