It’s not too long ago that boats came in just a couple of colors and custom paint jobs consisted of adding an extra stripe or two to the hull and trim. With the advent of vinyl hull wraps in recent years, that’s all changed.
“It really has altered the appearances of boats these days,” says John Hinde, Sales Manager at Mossy Oak Graphics (www.mossyoakgraphics.com) which specializes in wraps that come in camo patterns. Now, it’s possible to add anything from a splash of color to complete camouflage. The wrap industry is very creative and growing more so every day.”
If you have the bucks and want your installation done perfectly, you can hire a professional wrap installer. But this is a task the owner of most any small or mid-sized boat can tackle. I’m not particularly adept at do-it-yourself projects, but I recently converted a 14-foot jon boat to an inshore flats and bass boat. Adding a wrap was the final touch and that hull looks so nice now that I don’t want to get it dirty.
Wrap installation varies somewhat between manufacturers so you’ll need to read the instructions carefully to hit the fine points. There are, however, several common elements no matter which brand or style you choose.
“For starters,” says Hinde, “get a buddy to help. Things move smoother and faster when two people handle the wrapping process. Ensure your hull is at a suitable temperature, usually between 60 and 85 degrees, and work indoors if possible to avoid dust, rain, etc. Also, be sure to prep the hull completely and allow it to dry before applying the wrap. The cleaner the hull, the better the vinyl will stick.”
To that end, scrub the hull clean, remove any loose paint, and sand over rough spots. To ensure the hull paint is not deteriorating, wipe it with a paper towel. If any comes off, scrub the surface with a rough sponge or fine sandpaper and wash it again. Repeat until the paper towel test comes up spotless.
Since today’s wraps are peel and stick, setting them on the hull is a relatively easy project but the devil is in the details. After centering the vinyl, use a little masking tape to hold the wrap in place and then use a squeegee and hot air gun to press it down and smooth it out. Smooth the wrap from the center outward toward the edges. To remove any obvious air bubbles that remain after initial smoothing, poke a small incision in the bubble with a scrapple or pin and gently press the air out.
“Take your time and be thorough,” advises Hinde, “that’s the key to a professional finish.”
If you want to check out the Mossy Oak camo patterns, visit http://www.mossyoakgraphics.com/mossy-oak-camo-boat-sides-wrap. Their soon to be released “Elements’ line of wraps, which features rippled water patterns in blue, black, grey and crimson, looks really cool and should be particularly appealing to back country anglers and wildlife viewers.