Believe it or not, to remove old graphics from your boat, the process is entirely feasible for you to undertake on your own. Follow this guide for a step-by-step procedure, revealing the secrets to successfully accomplishing this process. Keep reading for a detailed walkthrough that empowers you to rejuvenate your boat’s appearance with confidence and skill.
How do I remove old graphics from my boat?
You just bought a new-to-you boat! Congrats! Now, it’s time to get that old name off so you can rename your boat.
How do I get started?
The first thing to note is whether your letters/graphics are painted on or are vinyl decals. If your graphics are painted, paint remover and a wet sand/buff may be required. We recommend conferring with a boat detailer or a boat yard to make sure that you know exactly what needs to be done for your boat and hull type specifically.
If your graphics are vinyl decals, try to remove a letter by picking at the corner/edge. If the graphic begins to raise off easily, the removal should be fairly easy. If the graphic is stubborn or pulls off in flakes/pieces, you may want to confer with a boat detailer and hire them to do the removal. There is often hull discoloration and raised fiberglass under old graphics, so a wet sand and buff may additionally be necessary.
I want to complete the removal myself. What materials/solvents do I need?
We recommend a few products, but the most important are a good adhesive remover, a razor blade or vinyl chipper, and a heat gun (a hair dryer will work just fine).
- Adhesive Remover – While we usually recommend 3m Adhesive Remover, but Goof off, Goo Gone, or a similar product will work just fine.
- Razor Blade or Vinyl Chipper – Lil Chilzer and Safe Scrape offer great products to assist in scraping off old vinyl without risking scratching your hull as you may with a conventional razor.
- Heat Gun – Any targeted heat source will help with removal. At Prism, we use torch guns, but standard heat gun or hair dryer will achieve similar results.
Now that I have all my supplies, how do I remove the graphics?
Decent weather is a key factor in an effective and easy removal. If it is cold outside, it will make any vinyl graphics removal far more difficult. We recommend working on a day over 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using a hair dryer or a heat gun, heat the vinyl until it becomes soft and pliable.
- Using a vinyl chipper/scraper or your finger, lift a corner of the vinyl and pull up while maintaining heat on that area.
- Repeat step 2 until all of the vinyl has been removed from the area.
- Use a solvent to remove any remaining adhesive. If you do not have adhesive remover, acetone works well for this, but only if you are familiar with it and feel comfortable using it.
*The graphic will be destroyed in the removal process and cannot be re-used.
I can still see a “shadow” from the old name. Now what?
If the graphics haven’t been on the boat for very long, sun exposure will decrease the “shadowing” that you see. However, if the graphics have been on the boat for ~5+ years (and/or have extreme sun exposure), the petroleum from the vinyl’s adhesive and the petroleum from the gel coat can fuse together, swelling the gel coat in the areas under the graphics. The best way to decrease/potentially eliminate the raised gel coat is to wet sand and buff the area to give a flatter surface. If this is not a process you feel comfortable completing yourself, we can recommend a boat detailer to you.
Am I all done?
Yup! Now you can go ahead and wipe the surface down with denatured alcohol to prep it for application.