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Thread: Vinyl on Wood

  1. #1
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    Default Vinyl on Wood

    Hesitated for days before posting this as I have read a lot of posts regarding the use of vinyl graphics for boat transoms and don't want to start a blasphemy! war again! But will ask...I have a very nice older Grand Banks trawler, fiberglass, that needs renaming. I will have to use a new transom board as well as side nav light boards due to name length. I am going to use vinyl lettering and see how it looks. If it is not what I hope then I will triple my cost and go with hand painting. My question is on the proper way to apply these to new teak wood. I am in South Florida with the heat and sun so need to protect them as much as possible. Should I use a penetrating epoxy, maybe two coast, apply the graphics and then cover with 6-8 coats of high UV varnish. Varnish first and apply graphics on top? Don't want to star a varnish war either! Don't know if you guys heard but it seems people vary on their opinions of varnish I would like to narrow down my choice for a good Florida-worthy varnish for this application. So far I am looking at Epifames, Captains or Schooner 96. those seem to be high UV.

    Any comments are greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    I would varnish first and then apply the letters. It's easier, and I don't think you want varnish over the vinyl. A vertical surface like your transom will not suffer from sunlight as badly as a horizontal surface.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    I would ask the vinyl supplier if varnishing over is a good idea or not. If it isn't, then you must ask yourself how you will revarnish the name boards without mucking up the vinyl. If it were me using vinyl letters, I think I'd opt for a name board material that isn't wood. There are many to choose from and many will complement your boat.

    Jeff

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Don't varnish over vinyl. It is not totally dimensionally stable and will eventually shrink a bit, screwing up the varnish. You would also eventually see varying rates of splotchy yellowing on the letters, due to uneven varnish top coat thickness. Epoxy, or epoxy products are about the lowest UV resistance you can get, so I'd avoid them as well. Painted letters or vinyl letters on a well varnished surface are probably your best bet.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    In addition to other things, I am a sign painter and have done my share of boat lettering over the years. I understand that vinyl letters are a bit less expensive than the initial cost of a painted name at the onset. However, I can spot a vinyl name, even at a distance. I see it as having a phony mechanical look, when compared to the balance and flow of hand lettering. It is lacking in life! Why would a proud father send his daughter to the Prom in a vinyl dress? A well done painted name should last a very long time! This is because it can be varnished over and, if you maintain your varnish properly. It can last many many years and will be a pleasant thing to view and appreciate. It is the icing on the cake; the final touch of class on a wooden work of art!
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 06-14-2017 at 04:05 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Thanks for the replies and after lurking in here for years (can't remember my original user name so registered new) I am well aware of Mr. Jay Greer's feelings about vinyl! Being a life long sailor and wooden boat guy I have to say that I share the same sentiment. However, the $3,000 or so needed to go A+ on this in gold leaf and paint for the transom, hail, and two nav light side boards is just not easy to swallow right now. I sort of decided I will give the vinyl a shot to see what I see. If it is so bad than I can just remove, re-varnish, and go with paint at another time. I'm not really convinced I will actually do it but I am moving that way. Vinyl will be here tomorrow and I will give it a look. Worst case is I spent $150 I didn't have to and will take them as samples for the style I want painted on. One other option is to use the vinyl on the nav boards and go with paint for the transom. Not sure. Vinyl company says varnish over is fine but don't use epoxy or poly as it will curl the letters.

    The more I type the more distasteful this gets. Once a wooden boat guy always a wooden boat guy I guess....

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Quote Originally Posted by hdsteele View Post
    Thanks for the replies and after lurking in here for years (can't remember my original user name so registered new) I am well aware of Mr. Jay Greer's feelings about vinyl! Being a life long sailor and wooden boat guy I have to say that I share the same sentiment. However, the $3,000 or so needed to go A+ on this in gold leaf and paint for the transom, hail, and two nav light side boards is just not easy to swallow right now. I sort of decided I will give the vinyl a shot to see what I see. If it is so bad than I can just remove, re-varnish, and go with paint at another time. I'm not really convinced I will actually do it but I am moving that way. Vinyl will be here tomorrow and I will give it a look. Worst case is I spent $150 I didn't have to and will take them as samples for the style I want painted on. One other option is to use the vinyl on the nav boards and go with paint for the transom. Not sure. Vinyl company says varnish over is fine but don't use epoxy or poly as it will curl the letters.

    The more I type the more distasteful this gets. Once a wooden boat guy always a wooden boat guy I guess....
    I totally agree with Jay. The estimate of $3000 for this work in hand painted gold leaf seems far out of reality. I can't recall any more than $1000 for a gold leaf transom. If you want to go more cheaply, forego the gold leaf. I once priced the cost of hand painted (no gold leaf) against stick on letters and the numbers were more or less the same.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Thanks. The price was based on 4 boards not just the transom. 2 side nav light names, transom and hail. Transom was the biggest of course with 15 5" letters about 48" long. I did call several local painters but I'll be darned if I can get a call back. Must be a good time for them. Jay, do you know anyone in my area, Jupiter/Stuart/West Palm Florida that you can refer me to? That's a long way from you but you've been doing it a long time.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    There is another option that combines the ease of vinyl with the authenticity of paint or gold leaf. Have the vinyl sign shop make you a stencil. This is essentially all that surrounds the letters. You use the surround and throw away the letters. A big difference is in the material used... you must ask for a stencil material. These have a much less aggressive adhesive. They are meant to be removed. I have used a product called Gerber Mask and find it to be quite suitable.

    In use, you would apply the stencil, apply paint, remove stencil and varnish over everything once the paint has dried. Gold leafing works much the same way. I know this isn't the same thing as having the lettering done by hand. The computer simply is too good so it lacks the human element. But, there are a lot of fonts out there.... maybe one is close enough.



    I hope this helps.

    Jeff
    Last edited by jpatrick; 06-15-2017 at 10:19 AM. Reason: added my name

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    I had a local artist / art student paint the name on my fiberglass boat. Came out pretty good. I did it for the better look. ( Funny eh? even with a plastic boat I didn't want plastic letters )

    I would guess this work would not meet the muster of a pro like Jay, or PC Ford, but it only cost me a few hundred, plus I paid for the brushes she needed. It looks better to me than vinyl graphics. Just a suggestion

    Kevin
    Last edited by Breakaway; 06-15-2017 at 03:02 PM.
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    X2 on the stencil - never varnish over paint or vinyl graphics - just repaint every two or three years.
    once the first step is accomplished, it is like a coloring book - just stay within the lines.
    I have 45 years as a custom sign painter and fabricator of dimensional signs under my belt.
    visit my friend's website - Signs by Renee'. she is in marathon, FL. Most of her work is freehand but she
    also uses a vinyl paint mask if the situation warrants. http://www.signsbyrenee.net/boat_lettering.html
    I also have another friend in Melbourne, FL if you ever get up that way.

    you can also make your own paper pattern and run over the lines with a pounce wheel.
    after the paper pattern is in position and held firmly with masking tape, put some powdered
    chalk in a sock with a half cup of rice and pounce the outlines. After removing the paper,
    a light coating of "Aquanet" hair spray will keep the powder from blowing away.
    use a good quality foam brush and paint your graphics with a good quality oil based paint.
    all excess powder can be removed with a mild soap solution - let dry - wala - done.

    you could also visit a storefront business such as Fast Signs, Signs Now, Kinkos, Staples, etc. to have a paint mask or paper pattern made.
    Last edited by John-1948; 08-01-2017 at 01:36 PM.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Thanks to everyone for their ideas and comments. John, thanks for the referrals. Actually Melbourne is 1/2 the distance for me than Marathon and I am going up there next week so a name would be helpful. I am surprised (remember my ignorance though) that you say never varnish over paint. I don't think I ever heard that before but again I don't know much. I thought a good UV varnish would protect the paint. Not looking forward to having the name redone every year or two and, like the vinyl, would make it difficult to revarnish the boards as needed?? No?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Paint is basically its own UV blocker to some extent. It will eventually chalk and slowly wear away, but the pigment at the surface prevents most of it from structural deterioration, unlike varnish. I varnished over white enamel once. I sprayed the varnish, so you would think it had pretty even coverage. A couple years later it was covered with yellowed splotches due to thickness variations in the varnish. I ended up having to repaint the white - this time on top of everything else. I'm sure you could varnish over a lot of dark or multi-colored stuff, maybe even gold paint and get away with it, but it's pretty risky over really light paint colors.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    if you read Jay Greer's response carefully, everything he says is on point.
    but you must pick up on the key words "if you" in just about everything.
    "if you" maintain your boat properly
    "if you" maintain your varnish and paint properly.
    "if you" maintain your - - - - - - -
    with proper maintenance, painted graphics will last a very long time.
    vinyl on the other hand has a 2-5 year life span on the water and then
    it will crack and peel and must be removed, which is very tedious on a wood surface.
    paint can be sanded and repainted several times with no ill effects.

    this is a fabulous forum for building, repairing and maintaining wood boats.
    if anyone here paints their boat any color, do they come back and varnish over the paint ??
    nooooooo they don't. same with a sign. the paint itself takes care of itself. just like varnish.
    ask any TRUE sign painter (not a vinyl sticker shop guy) and they will tell you the same.
    I don't know why, but it seems the general public thinks Polyurethane is a protectall for everything
    outside...... this is just my own personal professional advice. and opinions are like noses, everybody has one.
    it is sad that the sign shops have not called you back.
    but, this falls into your lap as exactly what do you want to do..... and what are your brush skills.
    I will contact my friend in Melbourne today and see what he can do for you.

    in the meantime, could you please email me some photos of your boat transom and what words
    and graphics you want to put on it ?? john.infla@yahoo.com.


    .
    Last edited by John-1948; 06-16-2017 at 08:08 AM.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Yes opinions are like noses...but...some noses are just better than others! I know one doesn't varnish over paint on a boat. I am just confused on how to keep up the varnish on the name board. the trick I found with my boats over the years (and its old news) is to re-varnish before it needs it. A couple of coats and off you go. If it gets damaged, peeling, water intrusion, etc. then it is too late. Go back to Step 1. Anyway, yes I will send you my pictures and appreciate you comments. I am now investigating having the names carved then the letters painted gold. Lord knows what that will cost!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    I just noticed in your post that you have already ordered your vinyl.
    here is an option:
    apply the graphics to the selected area as instructed by the people you purchased them from . . . .
    then - take a black Sharpie marker and trace the outside of the graphics.
    remove the graphics
    paint within the lines like a coloring book with any top-grade exterior paint of your choice.
    do not varnish over the graphics.

    if you read the instructions on the labels of paints such as Pettit, Duralux, Interlux, AwlGrip,
    Rust-Oleum's TopSide, etc. none of those manufacturers recommend varnishing over them after application.
    just an option to get something for your $150 investment.
    another option would be to go with a 22k real gold vinyl product called "Sign Gold" which is cut on a plotter
    and applied just like regular vinyl. Has a 5-7 year life span on the water.
    one option is the mail-order of purchasing ready made name boards ready to install.
    http://www.goodnewssigns.com out of Rhode Island.


    .
    Last edited by John-1948; 06-16-2017 at 09:45 AM.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Quote Originally Posted by hdsteele View Post
    Yes opinions are like noses...but...some noses are just better than others! I know one doesn't varnish over paint on a boat. I am just confused on how to keep up the varnish on the name board. the trick I found with my boats over the years (and its old news) is to re-varnish before it needs it. A couple of coats and off you go. If it gets damaged, peeling, water intrusion, etc. then it is too late. Go back to Step 1. Anyway, yes I will send you my pictures and appreciate you comments. I am now investigating having the names carved then the letters painted gold. Lord knows what that will cost!
    There is only one solution to the problem: covers. In your case, it shouldn't be a huge investment. Simply have your canvas-maker make up a cover that can be fastened to your transom and covers that can be fastened onto your name-boards. Be sure to have them made of material that will really keep the UV out (or treat the inside of them with something that will. (Canvas covers can chafe through or "leak" light and thereby their effectiveness can be reduced.) Conscientious use of the covers when the boat isn't in use will result in varnish that can last for many years without any refinishing at all.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    You always varnish over painted/gold leaf transom. Gold leaf is extremely delicate and must be protected.

    There are so many wild goose chases in this thread I don't know where to begin. So I won't.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    The only advice I have is, what-ever you apply the graphic to, it must be a very well adhered coating, and it must be very, very dry. Properly squeegied on, upon removal of the graphic backing, it will pull any lose coating, right off!

    We've been rolling and tipping the hull on our 56 year old glass boat, for 15 years. Here's my son applying the stars (he has a good eye), on our first graphic, in 2002. I'm recalling I paid 30-40 dollars in 2002. But I did all the design and sizing (on CAD program), and sent that to a local graphic guy to print that out.



    Painting the hull every 3-4 years, I tape the graphic off every other time(as I roughly recall,...)

    My daughter helped me this spring. She's very capable. We did the trick in 2 1/2 hours.



    And here he is again - lining up the stars - a couple weeks ago(2017, Graphic $60), once the paint was very well dried.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Another way to put a name on a boat is by carving quarter badges. Here is the work I did on the dinghy for "Bright Star" It was a very involved job to remove the existing name "Spanky" and change over to "Twinkle". This required a hell of a lot of tedious fussing with creating a mixed background that did not go through the back of the wood that had been epoxied to the hull by the former owner. Normally I would have used incised carving. Here I chose letters from the Celtic alphabet to give a happy look to this fine sailing little dink.
    Jay

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    awesome work Jay.
    I have read several of your articles and to me, gold leaf and
    dark woods such as mahogany are just meant to be.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    "Bright Star" gets her original name back. When we bought her a former owner had named her "Jin Lung",ie," Lucky Dragon". He owned a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong.
    Jay

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Sorry about the jumbo size my storage server is on the fritz!
    Jay

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    Sorry about the jumbo size my storage server is on the fritz!
    Jay
    Beautiful. There's no substitute for the real thing.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Yes I know, it would look better with the "BRI" moved just a smidge to the left away from the "G" But it was too late for that. It is a difficult name to balance with the rudder in the middle. I do like the change we made from blue to Herreshoff green with the bottom paint though.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 06-19-2017 at 01:22 PM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Old Paint Colors.
    Jay

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    A simple stern and name.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    An option other than paint, gold-leaf or vinyl lettering is screw-on lettering. I'm happy with the letters purchased from commercial lettering companies. When it comes time to repaint the hull I unscrew the letters, paint (the letters also if needed) and replace.

    For example: http://www.geminisignletters.com/sig...FQyJaQod_H4G8A
    "When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart."

    -W. B. Yeats

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom3 View Post
    A simple stern and name.

    Notice that when the transom was repainted the painter skipped touching up the white within the hailing port letters. One of the disadvantages/difficulties of vinyl and paint/goldleaf lettering imo....
    "When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart."

    -W. B. Yeats

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    I would agree its easier to unscrew letters paint and screen back on. The issue with vinyl in the heat and direct sun is the fading, cracking and wear from the water as well. Also with plastic or metal (yes they make metal to withstand against salt) is that they will last longer. Also applying vinyl to me is harder than just screwing the letters on. I would agree paint in my number one option but I have seen great metal and plastic letters on wooden boats.

    Here are a few places I found with metal letters, they also carry the plastic and vinyl.
    http://www.geminisignletters.com/sig...metal-letters/
    https://americansignletters.com/aluminum-letters/

    To my last point as other stated I would most likely go with paint as I just like the look best on a wooden boat. If it were fiberglass I would say a metal letter but stick with paint!

    Quote Originally Posted by rbgarr View Post
    An option other than paint, gold-leaf or vinyl lettering is screw-on lettering. I'm happy with the letters purchased from commercial lettering companies. When it comes time to repaint the hull I unscrew the letters, paint (the letters also if needed) and replace.

    For example: http://www.geminisignletters.com/sig...FQyJaQod_H4G8A

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Vinyl on Wood

    T'heck with it all, vinyl-wrap the whole boat, inside and out! http://www.proboat.com/2016/06/its-a-wrap/
    "When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart."

    -W. B. Yeats

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