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Applying your vinyl graphics is simple if you follow some basic guidelines. The boatnames generally come in one piece and are sandwiched between a paper layer of transfer tape and a wax layer of backing. Why don't you remove it from its home inside the shipping tube, unroll it and see for yourself?
Good. Try to flatten it out in a warm room where pets and children can't find it. That transfer tape is a low tack sheet that will lift your graphic in one piece. The transfer tape is no match for the vinyl's pressure sensitive adhesive which will bond to the surface of the boat very tightly.
You will need only a few things to accomplish this feat.
Wait for a nice day, unless you are a fearless pro. The worst weather is windy weather. Rain is OK, but not while you're applying. Tarp it off if you have to. Vinyl should never be applied in temperatures less than 40 degrees farenheit or 4 degrees celcius. Also the lettering surface should be free of dirt and wax for best results. Done properly, this job will last for over seven years, (or until you sell the boat.)
- Mildly soapy water in a spray bottle or mister. Just enough dish detergent to break the surface tension and suds up a little. Maybe three or four drops per quart?
- A piece of hard plastic, we call a "squeegee"...look in your package!
- A roll of masking tape.
- An exacto blade.
- A tape measure
All your friends and family will see this and
criticize you if you don't do this right. If you are a
religious person, this is a good time to ask for guidance,
patience, a steady hand, good weather, complete
happiness and a whole bunch of other things.
please remember to
RELAX!!!...its just a boat.
To get the name to go up straight, start with a piece of tape on one corner. With the backing still on the graphics (that's right, don't get ahead of yourself now!) slap it up there where you think it should go. Go ahead! You can always move it if you don't like the position.
Bring the other side into position and tack it down with another piece of tape. Use a tape measure to be sure it is level. If you have a straight edge on the paper backing to measure to, great! If not, measure from the edges of similar letters. Remember that some letters (like o's and s's) normally sink below the line of text. If you like coffee, now is the time to stand back and take a break. Breathe deeply that air of satisfaction, knowing that you are actually getting somewhere!
- If you're lettering both sides of the vessel, pick a piece of hardware common to both port and starboard as a reference point BEFORE you begin. You'll really want to double check position of both sides before adhering either! Sometimes one side of the boat suprises you with a drain or a mystery window. Seriously! Stand back and take a moment to look. "A stitch in time saves nine," right?
- "Hinge" the graphic along one of the straight edges with a long piece of tape. [This is a technical term in the sign business meant to confuse amateurs. Hey, if everybody knew how easy this was, we installers would be out of a job! ] Half the tape should be on the transfer paper and half on the boat. Make sure you've got a grip. If you don't ...get a grip!
- Now when you flip the graphic back to remove the wax paper, everything stays in place. Test it! Make sure it's not getting loose on you! If you can't flip it back because you're on a curved surface, cut between the letters. See the diagram in step six below.
- Peel back the wax paper and expose the sticky side of the vinyl. Big long names sometimes call for a helper at this point, but if you have a name that can be divided into smaller sections, cut between the letters so that you're dealing with a more manageable piece of vinyl.
Separating the letters after hinging is also very helpful when lettering on curves surfaces...each letter needs to fall differently and cutting between them will assure that you steer clear from leveling problems, (like the classic vinyl Swwooop! common to beginners who attempt to slap a square name on a round hull).
- Many times it's easier to smooth out the name if you mist the adhesive backing with a little soapy water. Wetting it also prevents it from sticking immediately and the soap makes "the water wetter." Usually a wet application is good, then again, if it's too soapy and doesn't stick at all, you have to rinse some of that soap off with fresh water. Generally, use the wet application as it's easier to squeegee out water bubbles than it is to squeeze out air bubbles. When all the water evaporates out from under the name in a few days, the vinyl will adhere as if it were going up dry to start. If you're one of those daring pros, you'll start with a dry application because you know it's going to stick better right away.
- Lay the vinyl close to the hull. It won't stick if you've wet it down, especially if you don't press it too hard. It's called "pressure sensitive" vinyl which means that the harder it is pressed, the harder it sticks. Holding the free edge tautly, just off the surface , pull the squeegee across the center of the graphic to get a good center line of adhesion.
- Now you can lift one of the sides up and squeegee from the center line toward the edges. ALWAYS work from the center toward the edges!! Do this to avoid trapping air or water bubbles.
- Finish off the other half the same way (from the center to the edges, then from the middle to the top and bottom). If you started with a good centerline, the rest of the vinyl will fall into place, naturally!
- Finish by spraying down the transfer tape with that spray bottle. Squeegee a little more for good measure and let that water soak into the paper. The water not only helps you apply the vinyl smoothly, it also loosens the paper and helps to remove it without pulling the vinyl back off the boat. Pop any bubbles with a pin point and press out the air or water. Any water bubbles will evaporate.