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Visual Appeal

by NWY Staff

Expert BRAD COLE, owner of Seattle’s Prism Graphics, answers our burning questions about boat wraps and gives details on the dimensional lettering services swiveling heads around the Sound.

What are a few of the advantages of a boat wrap versus new paint?

Boat wraps have many advantages, the top being the cost compared to paint, and then the time it takes to do the job, and the ability to make easy repairs. For older, faded, or discolored boats, it can be a way to clean up and update the look of the boat. For newer boats, it can be a way to get a custom look as well as protect the gel coat underneath from sun damage, all done at a fraction of the cost of a paint job and completed in a fraction of the time.

What material do you use to fabricate the wraps? And then, how long can a prospective customer expect a wrap to last in Northwest waters?

Not all vinyl is created equal. The vinyl we use is a basic wrap film from the top manufacturers around the world, and we have found with proper care and maintenance a boat wrap should last 8-10 years. The biggest killer of vinyl wraps is abrasion (i.e., running into things) and sun damage. For us in the Northwest we don’t see the intense sunshine you might experience in some of the southern states, so wraps do better in our environment. A good way to extend the life of our boat wraps is to keep it clean and put a coat of wax over it once or twice a year. To help with abrasion, we suggest you get soft fender covers as well as be aware of lines and other items that can rub and wear on the wrap. We usually have solutions for those trouble areas.

What is the design process and timeline like for a boat wrap? And, what are a few of your personal favorite color combinations for a wrap?

Most of the boat wraps we do are just solid color, what we call “color change.” However, we do have full color printing abilities and can design anything you can imagine. We are happy to create your printed wrap from scratch or take a design you’ve already created and size it to the boat.

The timeline for a wrap regardless of color change or full print is usually 3-4 weeks to get the material ready and schedule install. Once we start the wrap, most boats take us 2-5 days to complete.

In the Pacific Northwest, the dark blue tones are the most popular. One of my favorite blue colors is a smokey deep blue that is the equivalent to Awl-Grip’s “Stars & Stripes” blue. There are no manufacturers that came close to this color, so we contracted Orafol out of Germany to create the color in a vinyl material. I also love when we can get creative with a full color print. The S&S 70’ sailboat Obsession was one of our favorites, we were able to create an Orca whale/native American mural that ended up being 6 feet tall and 70 feet long.

We love the sleek, modern appeal of the dimensional lettering option for boat names! What are the requirements, if any, for this option? Are there any certain dimensions or electric requirements that a vessel needs to have on board, so to speak?

We are loving the look of dimensional lettering as well. There are many ways to do these using stainless or acrylic, and utilizing backlighting or even not. There are a few requirements when trying to make a dimensional name and we’re usually able to find a solution that works for the application. If we’re not doing backlighting, we can either stud mount or double-sided tape the names on the boat. If we are doing backlighting, we need to make sure there is access to get to the back of where the names are mounted and decide where to get power from. For some of the more difficult ones, we often contract to some of the top marine outfitters in the area to help us get power to the name area. If we’re doing backlighting, we build the name to suit the boat’s system, that’s usually 12v or 24v LEDs and they come with a wireless remote to be able to control them.

ABOUT THE EXPERT: Prism Graphics was founded in 1976 by boat owners that were artists. I took over the company in 1993 because I love to be able to be the creative artist I am and be able to work on boats. I grew up on sailboats, racing and cruising in the PNW with my family. I know the challenges that come when working on them. Not only do we know what we’re doing when it comes to these unique challenges, I live on a boat, we regularly cruise in the Puget Sound and San Juans. I know I’m going to run into our customers, and I love it when I do. We work hard to make sure when we see our customers out cruising that they have good things to say about us.” – Brad Cole

>> For more information on all of Prism Graphics’ services, go to: prismgraphics.com.

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