Custom Boat Wraps, Graphics and Lettering

How to Give Your Boat the Best Look

There are plenty of articles out there about how to name a boat properly, but few people talk about actually putting that name on the boat, or investing in other cool exterior graphics, wraps, and design elements. There are a lot of considerations that go into choosing the best graphics or way to apply your boat’s name and registration information to the hull. You can choose from painting, vinyl decals, custom graphics, and so much more. How, though, do you figure out what is going to be best? Keep reading to learn everything about the process of applying lettering and other decals or graphics to your boat.

How To Affix Your Boat’s Name To Your Vessel

There are several ways that you can add your boat’s name to the hull. Of course, your options will vary depending on the material of the boat. Fiberglass is typically best suited for a heavy-duty vinyl that can be affixed securely thanks to its adhesive nature. Paint is an option, although you’ll need to buy special marine paint that is designed to be exposed to the elements and still hold up. It should also be capable of adhering to the exterior material of your boat.

There is no single method that is better than the other. It’s going to be a matter of you taking the time to explore your options and figure out what best suits your needs. Below, we’ll get into the details of various graphics and design options, including their pros and cons, and how custom graphics might be the best way to go.

Hand-Painted Graphics VS. Vinyl Decals

A lot of boaters like the classic, authentic look of hand-painted boat names and registration numbers. While this does offer a unique aesthetic, it can be more difficult and more expensive. Painting can be done on just about any surface, but it will require special care and cleaning. It won’t have the risk of coming off like a vinyl graphic or stick-on applique, but it could risk being scrubbed off by abrasion or regular cleaning over time if you don’t use the right materials.

For some people, the effort and potential additional maintenance and care are worth the investment for the classic, romantic nature of hand-painted boat names. For others, the cheaper solution of vinyl graphics seems to be a much better option.

Vinyl decals typically come from a roll of vinyl sheeting that has been colored accordingly. There are custom options where you can have graphics or designs printed onto vinyl, but those are a bit more expensive. Still, this material is diverse enough that it can do just about anything that you want in terms of creating great graphics for your boat.

Vinyl is popular because it adheres well and has a low profile. That means it will apply with a smooth finish, and there is minimal risk of anything getting up under the lettering, hence what makes it a popular choice for boats and vehicles.

For a glimpse of hundreds of high-quality decals to help you see the potential of vinyl lettering, check out the Top Ten Boat Names from 2008 to 2019 from BoatUS Boat Graphics and Lettering or this unique collection of standout boat wraps from SignsNow

The Benefits of Custom Graphics and Decals

When it comes to giving your boat a unique look, custom decals and graphics are a great place to start. Not only will it give you a chance to get the best quality materials and a custom finish, but it can offer perks like:

  • The opportunity to advertise or promote an affiliation or relationship
  • A chance to create a conversation piece among other boaters
  • A more affordable way to create a unique look with materials that are durable and will stand the test of time
  • The ability to choose from graphics and wraps that cover all or part of your boat, giving you the chance for installation-ready custom designs

What About Boat Wraps?

We’re not talking about seasonal coverings here. Boat wraps are available that are much like vehicle wraps—they create a cohesive design across the entire vessel by wrapping around or over the hull with a secure application process. Some marine graphics companies will even allow you to take photos of your hull, send the dimensions, and get custom boat wraps and striping packages created and delivered without having to have an in-person consult or take your boat to an accessory or graphics shop.

Can You Buy Graphics Online and Install Them Yourself?

Yes, you absolutely can. If you’re brave enough to handle the installation, which usually isn’t too complicated, you can find plenty of graphics and lettering suppliers online that will allow you to purchase the materials that you need. You can even have custom graphics and lettering created if you want, giving you an even more unique finish.

Of course, if you don’t feel like you’re up to the DIY application, you can also outsource the work. Some companies will assist you with in-person graphics and lettering applications. You may also find individuals who specialize in lettering and graphics application who can help you put the design on your boat once your order arrives. Whether you hire an individual or enlist the assistance of a professional graphics company, you’ll be sure to find plenty of ways to apply graphics.

The Bottom Line

Lettering, custom boat wraps, and graphics are an important part of the overall design of your boat. After all, you can’t properly set out on the water without naming and finishing the outward appearance of your craft. With so many options available, it should be easy for you to find the best solutions.

If you’d rather have someone come out and provide an in-person consultation, you can do that, too. Ultimately, when it comes to graphics and lettering for your boat, the sky is the limit. Vinyl seems to be the preferred option for durability and affordability, but it’s certainly not the only choice. See what’s out there, and get inspired to create your perfect boat design now.

Written by: Valerie Mellema

Valerie Mellema is a writer, published author and avid bass angler who lives on the shores of Lake Fork in East Texas — the top bass lake in Texas and the fifth in the nation. For the past 10 years, she and her husband have enjoyed the pontoon boat lifestyle while fishing a lake that not only has bass but beautiful wildlife as well. She holds a BS in Agribusiness/Equine Business and regularly contributes articles to, YachtWorld and Boat Trader.


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