Boat Wrap Vs. Boat Paint: What’s the difference?

Boat wrap or boat paint, what differentiates them? Which is better? The only way to make an informed decision on which option best fits your needs is by understanding the difference between boat wraps and boat paint.

Boat Wrap Vs. Boat Paint

While paints have been in use for quite a long time, boat wraps emerged in the ’80s, and to date, boat owners still find it hard to settle on which is better. Some boaters will stick to the traditional way of finishing the hull by painting, while those with newer boats often opt for boat wraps due to the many benefits they provide.

Read on as we go over the different types of vinyl wraps, the differences between boat wraps and boat paint, and some frequently asked questions.

Types of Boat Wraps

While boat paint is the traditional method of providing full protection for boats and most boaters and marine professionals consider it the long-term solution for any boat, boat wraps are an eye-catching kind of hull protection.

Boat wraps are made of vinyl, and often people refer to them as vinyl wraps. One outstanding feature of boat wraps is their design and variety of colors. The variety of colors available provide the option to choose the vinyl that best catches your eye.

There are three primary types of boat wraps. These include:

1. Interior Wrap

These wraps are not so popular, but they’re prevalent in fishing boats. They cover the interiors of the vessel, protecting them from the damage water can cause.

Those who fish in seas prefer interior wraps because seawater is highly corrosive, and these wraps are easy to clean. Additionally, you can easily customize these boat wraps’ interior surfaces with any design of your choice.

2. Full Exterior

This boat wrap offers protection to the entire haul. It works pretty much like marine paint.

You can opt for a single-colored large wrap like dark blue or white, as many boaters prefer. Alternatively, you can go for full graphic wraps.

These are especially ideal for boaters who would like to double their boat as an advertisement tool for their business with head-turning visuals in 360 degrees.

boat wrap cost

3. Partial Exterior

Some prefer to add accents to some parts of their boats, such that one part is beautifully wrapped while the other part of the haul is exposed. In such cases, a partial wrap would work best.

For example, the accents can include company images or designs on the vessel’s side.

Boat Wrap Vs. Boat Paint: Benefits to Consider

Since we’re debating on the differences between vinyl wraps and boat paint, there can be no better considerations to make than the benefits both options offer. Therefore, some of the advantages to look for include:


Vinyl wraps are customizable. Whether you’re looking for a simple and classic design or a fully graphic one, it’s easy to achieve. Indeed, with boat wrap, the sky’s the limit.

You can have your favorite text, image, logo, or any other thing you fancy included in the design of your wrap. And to make it even better, you can preview and make alterations to your wrap until it’s exactly the way you want.

In addition, you can have graphic designs advertising your business brand with eye-catching and attractive promotional imagery.

For the boat paint, the painting job is done to completion, and it’s not until then that you can see the final design of your boat.

Whether it’s for business or personal use, boat wraps come second to nothing regarding convenience and customizability.


Boat wraps are a more cost-efficient way of finishing the haul of your boat. To wrap one marine boat costs approximately a third of what painting the boat would cost you. For owners of large fleets of boats, boat wraps are the ideal option.

You can have the same graphics or design put on all your vessels, distinguishing your business brand. Of course, hand painting one boat after the other will cost you a lot of money, while taking the vinyl wrap route will cost you only a fraction of that cost.

Boat Wrap Vs. Boat Paint: What's the difference? 1


Marine paint can last longer than boat wrap. However, maintaining boat paint is costly. You’ll have to repaint and keep up with the maintenance of the paint after every few years.

On the other hand, fixing vinyl wraps is easier and faster than a paint job. If a wrap section is scratched or dented, you only need to re-wrap that particular area and not the entire vessel.

In addition, wraps also are fade-resistant, thanks to the UV protection layer they come with.

It’s worth noting, however, that the longevity and overall durability of boat wrap will depend on the quality of its materials and installation practices. Therefore, ensure the company you hire to wrap your boat is a trusted brand with high-quality materials and experienced professionals. 

Speed of Installation

Do you know how long it would take to paint an entire boat? It can stretch up to several weeks. First, you need to move the boat out of the water. Then, take the boat to a shipyard, where it will sit for weeks until the painting job is complete. In addition, the paint requires a few days to dry.

On the other hand, installing vinyl wraps would only take a few days. Of course, this will depend on the vessel’s size.

In addition, changing the vinyl causes no significant interference on your boating schedule. To wrap your boat may only take the time you need to prepare the same boat for a new painting.

Boat Wrap Vs. Boat Paint: What's the difference? 2


Maintaining a boat paint is almost like a full-time job with all the regular polishing and buffing. You also need to hire a professional to do the maintenance.

With vinyl wraps, all you need to make sure the boat always looks brand new is soap and water. That means it will take very little time to keep your boat in pristine condition.

Ease of Removal

A boat wrap is easy to remove at any given time, and this is done without causing any damage to the underlying paint. Easy removal means you can replace your vinyl wrap with a new one if you want to switch to a new graphic or design.

For the painting job, changing the painting on your boat is a daunting task. It means repainting the entire boat, which will take several weeks.

Boat Wrap Vs. Boat Paint: What's the difference? 3

Environment- friendliness

To paint a boat requires the mixing of several solvents and chemicals. The components of these paints can be harmful to the marine environment. In addition, cleaning the paint may also require the application of chemicals that are not environmentally safe.

On the other hand, installing vinyl requires no chemicals. We can therefore conclude that vinyl is more environmentally friendly and safer for a marine setting than paint.


Here are some frequently asked questions about boat wrap vs. boat paint:

Does Paint Look Better?

While some people argue that a painted boat looks better than a vinyl wrap, we beg to disagree. Vinyl wraps look equally good, if not better than boat paint.

For boat paint, you have to keep a close check on the maintenance. If you don’t, it will result in the paint wearing quicker than a boat wrap.

On the other hand, maintaining the brand-new look of vinyl wraps on your boat is easier. Many boaters’ concern that a vinyl wrap wouldn’t get them the shine they like has long been addressed through advancements in printing and materials.

Today, you can barely note any difference between a freshly polished and waxed gel coat and a vinyl wrap. Both look equally good.

Boat Wrap Vs. Boat Paint

Does Vinyl Peel or Lift?

If you hire professionals to install boat wraps, you’ll not have to worry about lifting or peeling. All you’ll need to do is follow the cleaning instructions, and you’ll protect the durability and longevity of your vinyl wrap.

What Factors Affect the Lifespan of a Boat Wrap?

We talked to several boaters, and most of them thought that a boat wrap’s longevity usually depends on environmental conditions.

Exposure to certain environmental elements determines how fast the wrap will wear and tear. For instance, a wrap stored in northern climates will not deteriorate as fast as a vinyl wrap sitting in a lift in a place like Florida. Also, a covered shed will ensure the wrap lasts for a longer time.

The surface upon which you apply the wrap also affects its longevity. An installation on the horizontal surface means it will deteriorate faster. On the other hand, if the wrap is on the vertical surfaces (sides of the hull), it may last for years.

Between a Boat Paint and Boat Wrap, Which Is Heavier?

Many boaters say that a boat wrap is heavier and thus reduces the speed or performance of the boat. However, this is not true.

If not lighter, the weight of a vinyl wrap is approximately the same as that of boat paint. Look around, and you’ll see everyone using vinyl wraps. Be it pleasure cruisers or sailboat racers, just like boat paint, boat wraps suit boats meant for any purpose.

What Factors Affect the Cost of Painting a Boat?

Several factors will determine how much you pay for your boat paint. These include:

  • The type of boat
  • The size of the boat
  • The type of paint to be used
  • Customization requirements 

What Factors Affect the Cost of Wrapping a Boat?

The cost of a boat wrap will depend on:

  • The size of the boat
  • The complexity of design and time
  • The type and material of vinyl used
  • The time it takes to complete the installation

Final Word

So, boat wrap or paint? The question should be why you’re painting or wrapping the boat. Is it for aesthetic purposes? If this is the case, the vinyl wrap wins. With boat wrap, you’ll customize your boat to fit the fancy designs you envision. With boat paint, this can be tricky to achieve.

In terms of your budget, a boat wrap is more affordable. It will protect your boat until you have saved enough to paint it underneath. If money is not a problem, most boaters will go for boat paint. They believe it offers a more long-term solution.

That said, both options are ideal. They’ll help keep your boat in pristine condition and looking sharp for many years to come.