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Boat Wraps: Get in on This Growing Market

Learn More About Wrapping Watercraft

Photo of a boat

Watch this video to get valuable advice on wrapping watercraft.

In a challenging market, diversifying your offerings can be a great way to grow your business. One service area that many sign shops are exploring is boat wrapping. Customizing a boat has become more affordable for owners in recent years, thanks to the transition of the industry from custom painting to graphic wraps.

Dale Salamacha, president of Wrap This, Ink in Longwood, Fla., said that his company has seen significant growth in the bass boat market, as most professional fishermen are required to have a wrapped boat. Additionally, according to Salamacha, while many people don't have the budget to buy a new boat every few years, wrap graphics give owners the flexibility to keep their boat looking new with just a simple redesign.

Photo of boat with wrap
Many people don't have the budget to buy a new boat every few years, but wrap graphics give owners the flexibility to keep their boat looking new with just a simple redesign. (This boat was wrapped by Wrap This, Ink of Longwood, Fla.)

How It's Done
Larry Cavalluzzi, president of SignZoo in Sarasota, Fla., explained that production and installation of a boat wrap is very similar to that of a vehicle wrap. However, Cavalluzzi said, "When it comes to design, it's really not what a traditional sign shop is used to doing. Other than the basic types of boats, there's not really a library of templates for boat wraps – especially when you get into doing performance boats, and boats where you're wrapping the sides and the hull as well as the deck. It's all about finding those measurements along those planes and creating your own templates to work with."

Both SignZoo and Wrap This, Ink use 3M™ Controltac™ Graphic Film with Comply™ v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3 laminated with 3M™ Scotchcal™ Gloss Overlaminate 8518 for their typical marine wraps. (Another 3M film with a watercraft warranty is 3M™ Scotchprint® Wrap Film Series 1080.) To perform the installation, Salamacha said, "We insist on stripping the boat down as much as possible, so rub-rails, trolling motors, and any additional hardware pieces are removed. The wrap is applied in just two pieces, one for each side of the boat, with the only seam being on the nose. This helps the wrap maintain its durability."

Photo of boat with wrap
Working with high-quality materials can help you deliver not only the best look out of the shop, but a wrap that will have staying power in the water. (This boat was wrapped by SignZoo of Sarasota, Fla.)

Diversifying and Profiting
Wrapping a boat can be tricky, but it is a skill that can be learned like any other. Working with high-quality materials can help you deliver not only the best look out of the shop, but a wrap that will have staying power in the water. In the right market, diversifying into boat wraps can have a handsome payoff. Cavalluzzi said that for SignZoo, marine wraps are "definitely a growth area."

Advice for Successful Boat Wrap Application

  • Remove as much hardware (rub-rail, trolling motor, etc.) as possible before applying the wrap.
  • Wash the boat before applying the film using these tips:
    • Use a solvent-based cleaner, not alcohol-based, to thoroughly remove any wax residue on the boat. This will ensure the most thorough cleaning.
    • Don't use soaps or preparations that contain waxes, oils or lotions. This includes some window cleaners.
    • Be aware that the chemicals used in some automated washing equipment can interfere with film adhesion.
    • The front and rear of the boat typically have an oilier residue than other areas; so pay particular attention to cleaning these areas.
  • Apply the wrap above the static water line.
  • Use just one panel of film per side to avoid seams.
  • Seal all seams and edges with edge sealing tape.