There’s an alternative to painting a boat and it’s called vinyl wrapping. A self-adhesive film of vinyl is applied over the body or hull of a boat to protect it and its underlying substrate from the elements. A quality bo at vinyl wrap also gives some sort of cosmetic “makeover” to the boat to restore or to give it a new look. This kind of film is available in many colors, designs and finishes, so a boat can be easily customized according to an owner’s taste. It could even make a boat a vehicle for advertising.
Painting a boat has been the “standard” for many years. Now that vinyl wrapping is a viable alternative to it, should a boat owner switch to it? It’s worthwhile to study its pros and cons before making a decision.
The advantages of vinyl wrapping over painting:
- It costs much less. Because vinyl wrap costs about one-third the cost of painting, it is more cost-effective than painting.
- It takes less time to apply. Vinyl wrapping takes only days to apply compared to painting, which takes weeks and even months for the process. This reduces shipyard cost and further reduces time and total cost.
- It is easier to care for and maintain. Vinyl wrap is easy to clean with soap and water. No need to polish. A patch could be applied on vinyl wrap that is scratched.
- It can make a boat “one-of-a-kind”. The boat can be personalized and customized to one’s taste using unique designs, graphics, text and color combos.
- It is reversible. A vinyl wrap could easily be removed, to return the boat back to its original color, without damaging the underlying paint or substrate. This is a plus for a boat owner who buys a white boat – the most saleable boat color – with the plan of reselling it in the future. Meanwhile, he could enjoy having a boat whose color and design he could change as he pleases.
- It is more environmentally friendly. Compared to paint with its many hazardous and toxic components, vinyl is safer to use and less harmful to the environment.
The disadvantages of vinyl wrap:
- It has a duller color and sheen. Vinyl doesn’t have the type of gloss that paint renders. Vinyl color is less intense.
- The need to cut it to repair any corrosion underneath. When corrosion of iron or aluminum boats shows through the vinyl, the vinyl has to be cut first so the corroded part could be repaired, after which a vinyl patch is to be applied over the cut portion.
- Seams are more visible. Vinyl wrap seams are more obvious, especially up close.
- Obvious color difference when patching. When a patch is applied over a vinyl wrap, the difference in color shows, due to being exposed to different periods of weathering.
- The need for a perfect surface to lay the vinyl on. The surface on which the vinyl will be laid should not have any defects. These imperfections have to be addressed first, which would obviously increase the cost and time of vinyl wrapping. Repair of a vinyl wrap by patching is only possible if the damage is only on the vinyl. If the substrate is also damaged, the damaged area has to be repaired first before applying a vinyl patch over it.
Vinyl wrap is not a substitute for paint but just an alternative. In choosing between vinyl wrapping and painting, the decision should be based on one’s priority.