Considering upgrading the exterior of your boat, but not sure what method is best? Should you get your boat repainted, or would a vinyl boat wrap be a better choice? There are several factors that you will want to consider when making this choice, so we have broken down the different options and weighed the pros and cons to help you make a more informed decision.
When determining the cost of a boat wrap vs a repaint for your boat, it is not quite as easy as X vs. Y. There are many different options for both boat wraps and repaints, from full color, custom design boat graphics to solid color or stripe designs, not to mention the different types of paint that can be used, such as standard paint, gel paint or airbrushing. In order to compare the cost, you need to compare similar style choices to be able to determine which is truly cheaper.
When we have done comparison shopping, vinyl wrapping comes out on top as the less expensive option, at about ⅓ of the cost of a custom airbrush or gel boat repaint, depending on the size of your boat and amount of space you want to cover.
Hands down, a vinyl boat wrap is a quicker, easier, and less labor-intensive installation process. Most boat wraps can be installed in a day or two, depending on the complexity of the design. The entire process for getting a boat wrap installed is less time-consuming than just the prep work alone for a repaint.
You can get pretty much any design you can imagine with either process, making initial versatility a moot point. However, if you want to change or modify your design after the fact, then this is much easier to accomplish with a boat wrap than with a repaint.
To change part of an image on a repaint, you will most likely have to get the entire surface painted again. Graphics that are included as part of a repaint are typically applied prior to the application of the topcoat of paint, so removing and swapping them is virtually impossible. With a boat wrap, however, you can remove, update, add, or replace elements at any time, making a custom boat wrap the far more versatile option.
A boat wrap is expected to last about 7-10 years, but can far exceed that if well-maintained. A gel coat paint job can be expected to last up to 25 years, and standard paint about 7-10 years.
While the gel coat can last much longer, we will also need to consider the ease of upkeep. With a gel coat, if it is damaged, it can be costly and time-consuming to repair. A boat wrap, on the other hand, can be repaired relatively quickly with just a small area cut out and patch applied to make it look as good as new.
For maximum longevity of your paint, we recommend a boat wrap applied over your gel paint job. A clear wrap can be applied if you want to maintain your current look, a solid color can be applied for a color change, or you can add select graphics to make a more exciting and easy to change style.
It depends on what look you are going for. Either option can leave you with an attractive boat that will look good for close to a decade with the proper care. However, the care required for maintaining a paint job can be much more labor and time intensive. You need to wax and buff a paint job to keep it looking nice, which is not needed for a boat wrap, saving you maintenance time.
Historically, gel coat paint jobs often had a much shinier finish than a boat wrap or standard paint job. However, with the advancements in printing and materials, there are now boat wraps available that have a shiny finish, making this a less pertinent reason to select a gel coat over a boat wrap. What you prefer is entirely up to you, so get quotes, weigh your options, and pick the one that overall makes the most sense for you.