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"Ask the Expert" Offers Insights on Durability of Wraps for Boats


Photo of Alan Miller
Alan Miller, 3M Technical Service Specialist

Is salt water harder on marine wraps than fresh water? The quick answer to this comparison is "no." The durability of the graphics should not be compromised if you wrap your watercraft for fresh water or salt water environments. As long as you follow Instruction Bulletin 5.42 "Application: Special Considerations for Watercraft" during the installation of the graphics, and you regularly maintain your graphics, you should not notice a difference.

Some must do's include:

  • Apply the graphics above the static water line to achieve good durability.
  • All cut seams and exposed edges must be sealed to help prevent film from lifting due to environmental exposure or cleaning. Use a liquid, such as 3M™ Edge Sealer 3950, or tape, such as 3M™ Scotchcal™ Optically Clear Overlaminate 8914, which comes in ½-inch rolls.
  • If you use 3M™ Scotchprint® Wrap Film Series 1080, the textured films especially may require some additional care for use in salt water, as the textured surface may trap salt. While it's a good idea to clean any graphic, you should be especially diligent about taking the following steps with any of the textured finishes of film series 1080 to maintain your graphics:
    1. Flush the graphic with clean water to remove loose dirt or salt particles. A trigger-type hose nozzle is convenient for this purpose.
    2. Use a mild detergent and water solution and wash the graphic with a soft brush, rag or sponge. Wash thoroughly, from the top down. Avoid scratching the graphic with unnecessary scrubbing. After applying the cleaning solution, keep a steady stream of water flowing on the graphic to wash away dirt particles.
    3. Rinse the entire graphic thoroughly with clean water. Allow it to dry naturally.

More details regarding how to maintain your graphics can be found in Instruction Bulletin 6.5 "Storage, Handling, Maintenance and Removal of Films and Sheetings."

Photo of boat being wrapped
All cut seams and exposed edges on a boat wrap must be sealed to help prevent film from lifting due to environmental exposure or cleaning.