Boat wraps are installed much the same way that vehicle wraps are installed. We have noticed some common mistakes, and we can recommend a few simple steps for successfully installing boat graphics, or any vehicle graphics.
Some common problems are getting the placement wrong, overstretching the material, or heat-setting it improperly. “I think one thing people have a hard time with is just the fear factor. Working with vinyl and the fact that you just spent a lot of money for it is scary. You don’t want to mess it up. Easier to leave it to those that do it daily,” Signs for Success production manager Denise Gillit said.
Another problem we have seen is wet applying graphics. George Basargen worked with Signs for Success to design two over-the-top boat wraps for his Alaskan fishing boats. We installed the Roulette boat wrap in Tum Tum, WA. Then the customer took the boat graphics for the Black Pearl with him to Alaska and installed them himself. On a rainy spring day in Alaska, George tried to install the vinyl boat graphics by wet applying them. To “wet apply” means to spray the surface you are applying the vinyl to with a chemical like Windex or dish soap and water. Most cut vinyl can be wet applied. However, a high performance repositionable vinyl like the 3M Control Tac used for these boat wraps cannot be wet applied.
“Control Tac has a releasable adhesive so you can reposition it many times if you don’t get it in the right spot the first time. We would never suggest anyone wet apply a repositionable vinyl like Control Tac. You will have a much harder time getting it to stick properly,” Signs for Success designer Will Oakley explained.
Because the vinyl was not sticking properly, George called us, and we walked him through the best method to use over the phone. “He installed everything successfully and is really happy with how it all turned out,” Will said. In spite of his setback during install, George said, “It has been great working with Will. [The boat wraps] look great!”
Here’s how we install a boat wraps in 5 easy steps (Use these steps when working with a high performance repositionable vinyl):
- First, clean the surface.
- Place graphics where you want them using masking tape.
- Carefully peel backing away in small portions, smoothing the vinyl as you go.
- Use a squeegee to smooth any air bubbles out.
- Use a heat gun to set the vinyl.
Control Tac, as well as other repositionable high performance vinyls, should first be positioned in the appropriate place on the vehicle surface. Then, by removing portions of the backing little by little and smoothing the vinyl with the right tools, the material is applied evenly without stretching or wrinkling. To set the material, use a heat gun to heat the material in small portions at a time and smooth it out again. This helps the vinyl to conform permanently to all the curves and contours of the boat or vehicle.
We recommend having boat wraps installed professionally since the techniques required as well as the environment can play an important part in the success or failure of an install. However, if circumstances prevent you from having a pro install your boat graphics, by following these steps, you can achieve a professional boat wrap on your own.