The Vinyl Approach

Installation Tips

Click here for step-by-step directions with photos for boat decal and boat logo replacement.

The graphic consists of three separate pieces. Transfer tape - Vinyl - Paper Backing. You will need masking tape, spray bottle, Joy or dish washing liquid, plastic squeegee. Pick a warm (50-80 degree) day and try to place your boat in a location where it is out of the wind and direct sunlight and not in an dusty/sandy area...Take Your Time...DO NOT RUSH !

Application Instructions

1. NOTE: All Surfaces must be cleaned thoroughly of dirt and old adhesive using Goo-Gone, 3M Adhesive Remover or Acetone. (Lacquer Thinner is not recommended for clearcoat gelcoat or painted boats). The area must then be re-cleaned with soapy water and allowed to dry to remove any solvent residue which could affect the adhesion of the new decals.

Please read the instructions below for specific material cleaning procedures.

Fiberglass Boats: Clean surface with acetone or our preferred cleaner - 3M General Purpose Adhesive Remover (which comes in an aerosol spray can). After solvent has evaporated wipe down area with soapy water (a few drops of hand dishwashing liquid mixed with water in a spray bottle).

Plastics and Glass: Wipe surface clean with a window cleaner. Remove any tape or glue residue with a single edge razor blade or plastic scraper.

Painted Metals and Base Metals: Clean surfaces with a solvent such as Lacquer Thinner. Dry the surface with a lint free cloth before the solvent evaporates and re-clean with a soapy water solution before applying graphic.

Freshly painted Surfaces: Should be dry for at least 72 hours prior to application of the vinyl graphics.

Interior Painted Surfaces: Surfaces may be cleaned with any household cleaner or mild soap and water.

Temperature Requirements: The temperature of the room and the temperature of the intended
surface should be between 45 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for best results. Very high humidity
(above 90 percent) may effect the application process.

2. Use the masking tape to underline where you want to place the decal. (Or use the ghosted image that remains in the fiberglass/aluminum from where your old graphics were).

3. With your spray bottle, mix a solution of 4-5 drops of Joy, Ivory, etc. in one pint of water. Peel the decal with the transfer/masking tape up off of the paper backing. Now, carefully spray a mist of water on the area you want to place the decal and on the sticky side of the decal.

4. While the area is still very wet, place the decal in selected position. The soapy water allows you to slide decal into place. Now using fingers or plastic squeegee firmly (The water has no bearing on the adhesion, it is only for positioning the decal and removing the air bubbles.)

5. Use the squeegee to squeeze the water out from under the Decal. Squeegee in all directions, starting in middle and working your way towards edges (always go in one direction at a time - never use a back and forth brush stroke) and repeat several times. This process removes air and water from under the decal.

6. Let the decal dry completely. The amount of time needed to dry depends on the temperature and the humidity. Estimated time: 80 degrees - 15 minutes, 70 degrees - 1 hour, 50 degrees - 2 to 3 hours. (Make sure the area is shaded and not in direct sunlight during the drying period..)

7. Slowly peel back white (or clear) translucent application tape, the decal will adhere to the boat. If the decal doesn't adhere to the boat you didn't wait long enough for the water to dry behind the Decal, repeat step 6 and allow to dry.

8. Now check for any bubbles, if you find any place a small piece of application tape over that area, squeegee to closest edge. If you still have a large bubble you can pop it with a pin. Small bubbles will eventually disappear from the sun.

NOTE: On a windy day be careful when you peel the decal off the paper. The decal is very sticky, don't let it crease, or fold over on itself. Do not attempt installation in direct sunlight or on a hot hull. If you need to remove old painted letters, use Easy-Off oven cleaner. Please test in an inconspicuous area before using.  Please wear gloves and eye protection.

CAUTION: Do not let the exposed graphic touch the intended surface. The back of the graphic is VERY tacky and will tightly adhere to the surface. If the placement is not correct, removing the graphic for replacement will be very difficult or impossible without causing damage the vinyl.

Removal Tips

Different vinyls remove easier than other, depending on the brand, type, thickness, number of layers, etc. and over time vinyl graphics get baked on by the sun making them very hard to remove.

The basic technique is to push a squeegee, your fingernail (or some other non-scraping flat tool) against the edge of the graphics to lift corner. Once the corner is lifted then slowly peel the vinyl up. Note that if you peel the graphics up too fast then either some glue will remain or the vinyl will break away requiring you to pull from another section.

A good way to prevent breaking is to heat up the vinyl. Sometimes just having the boat with the lettering/graphics in the sun will heat up the lettering/graphics enough. If you want to know how to remove Gamstop read this article. Other times you will have to use something like a Hair Dryer or a Heat Gun (caution is required to not damage the boat's surface). This heating will loosen the adhesive and help the vinyl stretch instead of breaking.

If glue is left on the boat then you must use a rag soaked in mineral sprits, Goo Gone, fingernail polish or equivalent to soften the glue. Then you can squeegee the glue off. This is a very messy & time consuming process but multiple applications will succeed. If mineral sprits is not working too well then you may use liqueur thinner, but be aware that this is very strong and may damage the surface so test some on a safe area. We have had the best results using 3M Adhesive remover (available in a spray can or quart).

That should do it! If there is a "ghost" of a name still on the surface, you may want to buff it out. Or let the sun and oxidation slowly bring it back to original surface tone.

Surface Use Recommendations

Our vinyl graphics will adhere to many surfaces. In determining whether your intended surface is adequate, keep in mind that, as a general rule of thumb, vinyl will stick to almost any surface that is clean and either smooth or nonporous.

  • Acceptable surfaces

    • Glass
    • Metals (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy paint.)
    • Vehicles (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy paint.)
    • Vinyl (Such as Banners, Canopies, flags, etc.)
    • Plastic (must be smooth - it will not stick to a "cutting board" rough material
    • Fiberglass (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy paint or gel-coated)
    • Wood (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy paint.)
    • Other Painted Surfaces (Paint must be smooth and glossy, vinyl will not stick to oxidized, faded, or peeling paint)
  • Not recommended surfaces

    • Cement
    • Raw Lumber
    • Oxidized or faded paint
    • Peeling paint
    • Rubber
    • Raw Metals
    • Oily Surfaces

    This is not a complete list but keep in mind that if scotch tape sticks to it, the vinyl probably will. Rough, dull, peeling, porous or dirty surfaces will cause the decals to come off with changes in temperature and humidity.


Just a few samples of some recent jobs. See our Photo Gallery for More Ideas.

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questions on any of our products
or services.