The Ultimate Guide To Boat Wraps, Graphics, Films & Tints
Let’s face it, boating can be an expensive past time.
However, in recent years a new product has taken the industry by storm.
In times gone by if you wanted to refresh the look of your boat you’d have to get it painted.
This would involve lots of preparation work in the form of repairing and sanding the surface.
Applying a primer. Applying at least two coats of marine grade paint. And even then you might not end up with the finish you’re looking for!
Luckily there’s a much easier and cost-effective option available.
Boat wraps can reduce the workload and costs of a refresh considerably.
Not only do boat wraps look great but they can also protect an existing gel coat.
Boat films and interior wraps are also a great addition to your boat.
They can be applied to furniture to refresh and protect and also applied to windows to add a nice window tint which reduces heat, glare and improves privacy and security.
If boat wraps or marine films sound like they might help you out.
Continue reading to learn exactly what they are and how they can help you.
- Improve the look
- Protect existing gel coat
- Brand boats for events
- Rename your boat
- Cost effective solution
- Glare & heat reduction
- Printed films
- Fade control
- Protection from UV
- Protection for your whole vessel
- Reduces time spent repairing and maintaining
- Professional installation
Chapter One – Boat Wraps
What are boat wraps and what are they made out of?
Boat wraps are made out of a highly durable and conformable vinyl film material which can cover some or all of a boats exterior giving it a whole different look. Marine wraps can serve a number of uses.
A popular use of boat wraps is to improve the aesthetics of a boat, giving it an updated and fresh look. Another great use is to protect existing gel coats.
The use of boat wraps is a cost-effective alternative to a new paint job which can be time consuming and costly.
How long do boat wraps last?
Whilst overall durability will vary depending on use, maintenance, sun exposure and the type of wrap used, most will last between 5 to 7 years.
If you take extra care to look after and maintain your boat then you may get even more use out of your wrap before it needs replacing.
How much do boat wraps cost?
The cost of boat wraps will vary greatly. It’ll depend on a couple of factors that include the size of the area that needs covering as well as the complexity of design or project.
If you would like to know how much it would cost to wrap your boat then please get in contact with us here.
What are the benefits of boat wraps?
As mentioned earlier boat or marine wraps have a number of benefits and advantages.
Here are just a few benefits of marine wraps:
- Boat wraps are typically cheaper than custom paint jobs
- Marine wraps don’t require any specialist care, making them easy to maintain with standard cleaning routines
- A simple boat wrap can greatly improve the look and aesthetics. Either through a custom design or a simple and effective refresh
- Wraps for boats can also be used as protection for existing gel coats
- Marine films can also turn your vessel into a marketing opportunity through the addition of company branding. This is common practice for events and regattas
- One of the main benefits of marine wraps compared with painting is that they’re much quicker to apply.
- Whilst wraps do need to cure to make sure they’re thoroughly applied, it’s quicker than waiting for paint coats to dry. Especially if you have to apply multiple layers to your boat
- Another benefit is that boat wraps can be easily customised with different shapes and different designs
- Marine wraps are relatively easy to reverse, meaning they can be removed and replaced without too much effort
How to apply boat wraps?
We would only recommend seeking the help of a professional to apply any marine wraps to your boat. It takes a great deal of skill to apply wraps to a boat.
How to care for my boat wrap?
Having had a wrap applied to your boat you’ll want to make sure it lasts for as long as possible. Follow these do’s and don’ts to get the most out of your new marine wrap.
- Keep your wrap as clean as reasonably possible
- Take care to remove as much dirt as possible
- If using cleaning products test on an inconspicuous place to see how the wrap reacts
- Make sure to rinse the wrap thoroughly with fresh water
- If using solutions to clean make sure you use a waterless wash or spray wax
- Finally, if you’re transporting your boat take extra care to not scratch or damage it
- Make sure you don’t let corrosive substances remain in contact with the wrap as this could mark and damage the wrap
- Don’t use high pressure sprayers to wash your boat / wrap
- Avoid using stiff or hard brushes to clean your boat / wrap
- Don’t use standard wax or polish on your boat as this may affect your wrap
- Make sure you don’t over tighten your boat cover
Does my boat need to be out of the water to wrap?
As wraps are applied to the hull your boat will need to be out of the water. However, other installation services such as window or furniture films are applied internally so the boat isn’t required to be out of the water.
Chapter Two – Marine Window Tint Films
What are the pros of tinting the windows of your boat?
There are many benefits and advantages to tinting the windows of your boat with marine tinting films.
Here are our 6 pros to tinting your boat windows:
- Keeps the inside of your boat cool and can reduce as much as 60% of heat gain in your vessel. Tinted windows also help to reduce hotspots which may make areas of your vessel uncomfortable.
- Tinted windows can elevate and enhance the look of your boat. This applies to both the inside and outside appearance.
- With tinted windows comes an increase in privacy and security both dockside and out on the water. Tinted windows provide extra privacy for mariner, crew, guests and possessions.
- Tinted windows offer an ideal alternative to the use of curtains or blinds which may not be possible based on the style of your vessel.
- In addition to privacy and security, tinted windows provide an extra layer of protection and safety. Not only do tinted windows protect against dangerous glare from the water which can impair vision, but films can help to hold glass together in the event of accidental or malicious breakage. Window films can also block over 98% of harmful UV rays which can harm your skin.
- As tinted windows block harmful UV rays, they can reduce fading and damage to the interior of your boat, protecting fabrics and wood alike.
How much does it cost to tint boat windows?
The cost of window films for tinting will vary depending on the type of window film used, plus the amount of area required to cover.
What exactly are window films?
Window films are made from durable polyester and can have different laminates of metal, dye and other layers depending on the type. Window films have a strong adhesive to bond to the glass and come with a tough scratch resistant coating. When applied correctly window films give the appearance of factory tinted glass. To learn more about window films read our ultimate guide here.
How to tint boat windows?
To tint boat windows you need to apply a window film to the insides.
We’d always recommend that window tint films are applied by a professional. However, here is a brief step-by-step guide on how to apply window film tints:
- Prepare the windows – use a proper window cleaning solution with a rubber squeegee to remove any dirt and grime from the window. You may have to do this two or even three times to ensure it’s a dust free area. Don’t use any solutions which contain vinegar or ammonia. Make sure you clean the window surround and not just the window surface itself.
- Use a cardboard template to cut your window film to the correct size and shape.
- With your surface clean and window film cut, apply a generous amount of application solution using a trigger spray bottle.
- Peel the protective layer off the tint film and spray the exposed adhesive.
- With assistance, carefully place the adhesive side of the film over the window in question.
- Work upwards, avoiding bubbles, crinkles and pressing too hard – the adhesive is pressure sensitive and pushing too hard will cause the film to stick to the window.
- Once placed where you want it, spray the surface with more application solution and use a squeegee to push firmly over the window film to stick the film to the glass. Use even strokes, starting from the middle and working outwards.
- Continue to wet the film whilst working the air bubbles and application solution out from under the film. Avoid pressing hard or changing direction with your squeegee mid stroke.
- Progressively apply more pressure on the squeegee as the air bubbles are worked out.
- If required, trim around the edge with a sharp blade, ensuring you don’t scratch the glass. There should be a gap of 2-3mm around the edge.
- The film should bond to the window without any bubbles, creases or wrinkles.
- Allow 48 hours for the film to cure before you clean the surface.
How dark to tint boat windows?
Tinting darknesses vary from 5% to 90% visible light transmission.
You’ll need to think carefully about what times of day you use your boat and for what purpose.
If you use your boat at evening or in low light conditions you may wish to opt for a lighter tint such as 30% rather than 5%, which may cause visibility issues at night.
We would always recommend speaking with a professional installation company regarding the best film for you boat.
How to tint a boat windscreen?
Windscreens are often curved and so require additional specialist skills to heat-shrink the film into place.
Only very light, non-metalized films are advised for windscreens to maintain safe vision at all times- especially at night.
Modern Ceramic IR (infra-red) films with less than 80% VLT can be perfect for windscreens as they offer heat reduction and over 98% UV filtering without compromising on clear vision.
Chapter Three – Furniture and Wall Wraps
What are furniture and wall wraps?
If tables, cupboards and doors are looking a bit tired on your boat, or you just want a new look, furniture wraps are the ideal solution.
Furniture wraps are available in many different finishes including wood, metal and marble- all providing a very realistic look.
Wall wraps are either bespoke prints of patterns or photos or come as textured finishes giving a truly luxurious finish.
What advantages do interior wraps have?
Furniture wraps are generally less costly than replacing the furniture, plus there is much less upheaval and time spent ripping out old furniture and fittings.
Wraps are ideal on charter boats as they can be replaced every few years to ensure your boat always looks great, whilst protecting the underlying surfaces.
Textured wall wraps can elevate the look and feel of your boat, creating a truly ‘5*’ appearance.
What can be wrapped on my boat?
Tables, chairs, wall areas, lift doors and control panels, cockpit surfaces… In fact many areas can be wrapped to enhance and protect your vessel. Wrapping films are extremely durable nowadays and can be found in luxury hotels and apartments around the globe, as well as in the marine sector.
Chapter Four – Boat Graphics
What are boat graphics?
Boat graphics are generally precision-cut coloured vinyl but can also be bespoke printed vinyl to obtain a specific colour or reproduce an image such as a company logo.
Graphics can be applied to any flat, non-porous surface such as boat hulls or windows.
How to apply boat graphics?
We recommend that only trained professionals apply graphics to a boat. It requires specialist skills and tools to achieve a professional slick looking finish.
However small areas could be done as a DIY option, though you will still likely sacrifice finishing quality.
Ask your supplier what type of adhesive system the graphics have. Some are applied with a water solution, some are applied dry as they come with an ‘air-release’ adhesive system.
Here is a very brief step-by-step guide on how to apply boat graphics with a wet application:
- Clean the surface – on a calm, windless day with temperatures ideally between 10 and 21 degrees centigrade, carefully clean the application surface. Remove any salt and scum, rinse and dry. Spray 70% isopropyl alcohol solution across the surface and wipe with a clean microfiber towel.
- Find the centre – use a tape measure to find the vertical centre of the application surface and mark with a grease pencil above the application area. Gently fold the graphic in half to find the middle point or mark the transfer paper. Then align this with your marked area. Tape lightly to the surface.
- Position the graphic – align the top of decal (not paper) to a horizontal reference line. Once happy with the position, run a line of masking tape along the top edge to act as a temporary hinge.
- Lightly spray the surface with a water-soap solution (for example, a few drops of washing-up liquid in clean water).
- Peel back away – you can use scissors to cut in between letters to make the process more manageable if required. Peel away the backing of the decal and allow it to lightly adhere to the surface. If it wrinkles excessively, quickly pull it back and smoothly reapply.
- Squeegee the graphic with the transfer paper still on, progressively applying more pressure until you feel the air is removed and the graphic is tacked in place
- Remove transfer paper – remove the strip of masking tape along the top edge. Then peel off the transfer paper starting with the upper left corner. Pull gently at a 45-degree downward angle but parallel to the application surface. If the graphic starts to come away, smooth back and squeegee some more or wait until it has had a chance to dry.
How to clean boat graphics?
If you’ve spent the time and money on having graphics applied to your boat it’s a safe bet you’ll want them to remain looking new and good for as long as possible.
To do this it’s important that you clean and care for them properly.
When cleaning your boat graphics make sure you don’t use a wax containing petroleum distillates. These may dissolve the adhesive and cause the graphic to pull away from the surface.
It can also cause them to oxidize or lose their colour.
Instead you should use a mild soap water solution. This should ensure colour restoration and remove any grime without ruining or damaging the decal.
How to clean your boat graphics, step-by-step:
- Try to keep your graphics clean, by removing any dirt as soon as it starts collecting.
- Remove as much dirt as possible by spraying it with water then clean with a mild soapy water solution.
- Make sure you test any cleaning products you use on a small inconspicuous area before using one the graphic.
- Maintain the wraps finish by using a waterless wash or spray wax. Make sure the wax is safe for vinyl use however.
How to remove boat graphics and / or striping?
Perhaps you’ve bought a used boat which has come with graphics that you don’t particularly like and would like to replace.
Boat graphics can be removed through the following process with the following materials and solvents.
- Adhesive remover
- Razor blade / scraper (plastic blades can be safer to avoid scratching the surface)
- Heat Gun
- Use a heat gun on the vinyl to make it soft and pliable, this will make it easier to work with- just be careful not to damage your boat!
- Now use a scraper to lift the corner of the vinyl. Whilst the corner is lifted pull up, keeping the heat on it to make it pliable .
- You’ll likely need to repeat step 2. Do this until the vinyl is all gone.
- Finally use a solvent to help remove any remaining adhesive there may be.
Once removed you can then go about getting your own graphics or wraps applied!
How to apply boat striping
Like applying wraps, adding striping, names and graphics can be very tricky, involving great skill and knowledge. We’d always recommend seeking the help of a professional to make sure you get the finish you’re after.
Chapter Five – Marine Protection Film
How does marine protection film work?
Marine protection film works by providing both chemical and mechanical resistance. This reduces degradation from UV lights and prevents peeling and cracking.
What is marine protection film made from?
Marine protection film is a clear, ultra-tough Urethane material. It was originally developed for use in military aircraft but now provides the perfect protection solution for the marine industry.
Marine protection film helps to protect boats from scratches and chips. It’s commonly used on pleasure boats and superyachts alike. It prevents abrasion from fenders and ropes. It also prevents stains on the hull and makes cleaning easier.
How to apply marine protection film?
Whilst it is possible to fit smaller sections yourself, we’d highly recommend seeking the skills of a professional to achieve the best results. If you do it yourself you run the risk of a poor finish which will impact its effectiveness.
Depending on the areas being protected, some film can be applied whilst the boat is still in the water. However, for larger areas or anything near the waterline, boats will be required to be on hard standing ground with suitable access space.
How to look after marine protection film
Simply treat it like you would treat your paintwork. This includes regular washing and the occasional wax. You can get special waxes to use on films to make cleaning an easier process.
Can you remove boat marine protection film?
Marine protection film can be removed. Warming the film up can help this process. Be careful if you’re removing if your paint job wasn’t the original. Poorly cured resprays could peel away. Manufacturer paint jobs should however be fine as they will have been cured properly.
How long does marine protection film last?
Providing the surface doesn’t get heavy wear-and-tear, your boat paint protection film should last for years. If it does become scratched it should be replaced.
What if boats are not suitably protected?
Boats can be a costly expense or investment so you’ll want to do your utmost to ensure it stays protected and free from damage.
A great solution for adding an extra layer of protection is boat protection film.
Boat protection film can help ensure your vessel does not experience any of the following:
- Damage to paintwork which may require attention
- Light damage such as marks, scratches and scuffs
- Without protection you may end up having to spend both time and money on unnecessary repair work
When should you get it applied?
The ideal time to apply a marine protection film is when the vessel is new before any damage has occurred. However, obviously this is not always possible or even practical. Therefore, we recommend applying marine protection film as soon as you’re able. Even to previously used boats, this will reduce any future damage.
Chapter Six – FAQ
How long does it take to wrap a boat?
The application process time can vary depending on the size of your boat. It can take as little as a day or two or up to around a week for a larger yacht.
What are wraps for boats made out of?
The most common material for boat wraps is polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC or just vinyl. This is due to the multiple benefits of PVC over alternatives.
Can vinyl wrap be removed from boat?
Yes, you can remove vinyl from a boat with no damage caused to the underlying surface and without any glue residue, providing the underlying paint surface is sound. It can be a time-consuming process but a combination of methods can result in the removal of the vinyl.
What is the cost of wrapping a boat?
The cost of wrapping can vary depending on your boats size and dimensions but can cost as little as a third of the price of painting. Complex curves and hull fittings can also increase application time, and therefore cost.
Can you get DIY boat wraps?
We would always recommend getting a professional to do the wrapping application. Without training, finished wraps can be bubbled, stretched and creased. Edges will also start to peel away on a poorly finished application.
Can you see vinyl wrap joins?
Joins in the vinyl wrap will be visible on close inspection, however from any normal distance you would most likely not notice anything. Also, once back in the water it’s very hard to tell that your boat has been vinyl wrapped rather than painted.
Will my marine wrap fade?
Vinyl tends to be more fade-resistant than paint, some solid colours have a better fade-resistance property than some metallic colours.
Will my boat wrap peel?
Professionally applied high quality vinyl should not lift or peel. Caring for your vinyl wrap will also ensure that it does not lift or peel.
Is boat wrap heavier than paint?
Vinyl if anything tends to be lighter than the traditional spray paint job. Usually there is very minimal differences in terms of weight.
Can you wrap any boat?
Pretty much, Yes! Vinyl can be applied to painted hulls, gelcoats and aluminium boats although wooden hulls might not be possible.
Do I have to take my boat out of the water to apply marine wrap?
Yes. The wrapping will usually take one or two days so costs for yard time are minimal.
How do you prepare a hull for wrapping?
Importantly your hull will need to be sound with no flaking paint or chalky gelcoats. The hull should be clean and fittings should ideally be removed (although if they cannot be removed, it can be worked around).
Can you apply a vinyl wrap to a boat below the water line?
Although guarantees cannot generally be provided, vinyl can be applied below the waterline to some vessels (commonly tenders and small boats).
How long will a vinyl boat wrap last?
Premium 3M vinyl has a lifespan of up to 7 years, matching that of a marine paint job. Vinyl is usually more fade-resistant than paint so you may find that your boat looks better for longer.
Is a boat wrap as tough as a gelcoat?
Vinyl does scratch more easily than paint or gelcoat. But the cost of repairs is low and is easier than paint or gelcoats.
What do I do if my boat wrap gets scratched?
Vinyl is super easy to repair if it gets scratched or damaged. Simply cut out the damaged area, then measure, cut and apply a suitable patch. If applied well the repair should be practically invisible from a distance and due to the fade-resistant nature of vinyl you won’t need to worry about colour-matching.
How do I look after my boat wrap?
Wash your boat wrap regularly with soapy water only, be careful with high-pressure water around joins and the edges.
Chapter Seven – Conclusion & Round Up
So there we have it.
Everything you could possibly want to or need to know about marine wraps and films.
Whether you’re looking to tint your windows, update your boat’s styling with some new graphics or apply a marine protection film you should now feel confident in making the right choice for you and your boat.
As new films and wraps are released we’ll continue to update this guide to provide all the latest information and tips!
Thanks for reading!