top of page

Which One? Vinyl Wrap or Paint your Boat?

You may be inclined to think that as we are predominantly a boat vinyl wrapping company, we would try to make an argument that vinyl wrapping is the way to go, all the time, every time.  
Not so.  

In fact, while I do wrap some of my own personal projects, I actually do spray paint other things as well.
The reasons?  Let me explain the benefits, pros and cons, of both as we see them.

But first, I normally like to understand the reason for the change when someone is inquiring about a wrap, which commonly is one of the following:
1. To give the boat a new appearance or a modern look.  Quite often to cover up faded gelcoats that used to be blue, red, black or brown and now look a bit faded or patchy.

2. Provide protection from exposure from different elements.  Yes, we have wrapped brand new boats, sometimes for the look, but also in the same colour as original, just to protect it.

3. Ease of maintenance vs polishing.  Especially once the gelcoat has started to 'go', and is getting chalky quite quickly after polishing, a wrap can be a great option. 

4. More random reasons, such as to cover up defects, like how we wrap around window borders sometimes to cover bubbles in the new silicone or failing border paint which normally does that function.

Benefits (pros) of vinyl wrapping: 

1. Cost: Often the reduced cost can be a big benefit.   In the case of faded gelcoats on larger boats, due to several factors including that we can get the job done much quicker and thereby reduce the hardstand time and often not need it undercover or in a special marine paint shed, the cost is quite often around one third of a professional paint job. 

2. Fast:  As mentioned above, speed can be useful. Often we can wrap a boat in 2 days that would take 2 weeks or more to prep and paint.   These times can vary wildly due to many factors of course, but whether it is getting a problem fixed as soon as possible in time for a charter, or other pressing needs, wrapping can be a 'quick fix'.

3. Making the 'impossible' possible.   Yes, everything is possible, but for a complete colour change of the interior of a vessel for example, completely ripping our all the furnishings and having them remade in a different colour or wood would be so expensive it would be out of the question.   Vinyl wrapping the interior of a vessel can make this impossibility into a realised dream. 

4. Options:  Some textures and finishes are very unique to vinyl and are hard to accomplish with paint.   Of course, printed vinyl wraps as an example are comparatively very easy to accomplish with vinyl, but would need a very skilled air-brush artist to accomplish with paint. 

The 'cons' of vinyl wrapping
1. Damage: Lets come straight to the point, vinyl wrapping is not as hard wearing, or long lasting, as a high quality two-pack marine paint that is professionally and correctly applied.   By nature, the vinyl is softer, so more prone to damage.  On the plus side, this damage can often be easier and quicker to repair rather than having to blow in a section of paint for repair. 

2. Longevity:  As mentioned above, vinyl won't last as long as a good paint job, especially on horizontal surfaces like a T-top or roof.  This can be influenced by how well it is kept clean and what products are used to help it, just like neglected paint will also fail prematurely, but as a rule of thumb vinyl will not last as long. 

69ft Symbol wrapped in 3M vinyl
Lagoon 52 wrapped in 3M vinyl Matte Indigo

Benefits 'pros' of painting.
1. Details:  Painting can be great for detailed items that simply would not be suitable for wrapping, like air vents, or other small, detailed items.  Also, wrapping is not suitable for decks, so they are better off painted.   Some surfaces won't allow vinyl to  stick well due to surface condition or texture, so are better off to be painted. 

2. Longevity:  As mentioned, vinyl is not as 'tough' against physical damage, or direct and constant sun exposure as paint is.

Negatives 'cons' of paint
1. Cost:  This is probably a leading reason people, having understood the pros and cons, often choose a vinyl wrap with us.  The process to prepare for a professional paint job, and the facilities required, are detailed and expensive, especially in Sydney.

2. Time:  This is easily the second most important reason that people get us to wrap things, even on large vessels where cost is not so much of a problem, but rather a vinyl wrap is a quick fix that can be accomplished in a short turn around to get the vessel looking good for a charter or event. 

3. Limitation:  As mentioned above, custom designs or detailed images on the boat may be difficult to do with paint, very difficult, especially with the precision and detail that a printer can easily do.

4. Repairs can be more costly sometimes, as there may be a need to repaint a larger area to keep the appearance visually consistent. 

At the end of the day, the choice is yours.   We like to give as much information as we can to help. 

Please call us if you would like to discuss further. 
bottom of page