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Installing Boat Lettering

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Boat Name Installation Tips

How to apply boat lettering.
Print these instructions and keep them at your side when doing the installation.

Applying your vinyl graphics is simple if you follow some basic guidelines. The boat names generally come in one piece and are sandwiched between a paper layer of transfer tape and a wax layer of backing.

You will need only a few things to accomplish this feat.

1. Mildly soapy water in a spray bottle or mister. Three or four drops per quart.
2. A hard squeegee, or piece of hard plastic.
3. An Exacto blade.
4. A tape measure

Vinyl should never be applied in temperatures less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees Celsius. Also the lettering surface should be free of dirt and wax for best results.


  1. Temporarily tape name to boat.boatnamepic1.gif (1825 bytes)
  2. To get the name to go up straight, start with a piece of tape on one corner. With the backing still on the graphics slap it up there where you think it should go. Go ahead! You can always move it if you don't like the position.

    boatnamepic2.gif (1606 bytes)

  3. 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.


  4. 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 surprises you with a drain or a mystery window.

    boatnamepic3.gif (1632 bytes)

  5. "Hinge" the graphic along one of the straight edges with a long piece of tape. Half the tape should be on the transfer paper and half on the boat.

    boatnamepic4.gif (1071 bytes)

  6. 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.

    boatnamepic5.gif (2890 bytes)

  7. 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.

    boatnamepic6.gif (2890 bytes)
    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.

     boatnamepic8.gif (1610 bytes)

  8. 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.

    boatnamepic9.gif (2087 bytes)

  9. 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.

    boatnamepic10.gif (2139 bytes)

  10. 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.

    boatnamepic11.gif (2098 bytes)

  11. 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!

    boatnamepic12.gif (14320 bytes)

  12. 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.


AMA, Inc. agrees to correct by replacement at our own expense at our option, any defects in the product which is due to AMA, Inc. fault or negligence. AMA, Inc. shall have the right to inspect the product prior to making any decision on such defects. When inspection proves the claim, and provided that the product was properly cared for, AMA, Inc. will fulfill all obligations to the purchaser to correct such defects.
AMA, Inc. does not cover claims of damage caused during shipment, improper installation, use in extreme conditions, and improper care of graphics.



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