Unless you bought a pontoon boat purely for functional purposes, you probably want a boat that looks stylish and sharp. If you end up purchasing a brand new pontoon from an authorized dealer, you’ll have some choice over how you want it to look. Choosing the colors of your decals and the accents of your interior is a great way to put a personalized touch on your boat.
What about everyone else?
Are you buying a secondhand pontoon, do you want to give your trusted boat a facelift? If so, you’re in luck. Changing the decals to your boat is easier than you think.
In this article, I’ll cover how to go about choosing the best pontoon decals for your boat.
What Are Decals?
Decals are the vinyl graphics that you see printed on various parts of the boat. Just like we put pinstripes on cars to make them look better, we add decals to boats to improve their aesthetics.
The decals that come on your pontoon boat depend on two factors: your personal preference and the style created by the manufacturer.
Boats without any decals will have a boring look to them, almost like something in missing. Whereas noisy pontoons that are overloaded with decals will come across as busy, possibly even eyesores.
Because of this, it’s important to use decals within reason and not go overboard.
Here are some of the most common types of decals that you’ll encounter:
Just like fonts on a computer, lettered decals come in a number of sizes and styles, from subtle and elegant to large and flashy. Many people like to use lettering to give their boat a unique name. The biggest benefit of these decals is that you can apply them to virtually any part of the boat’s exterior with open space.
Striping is probably the most common of the decals you’ll come across. While they do exist, you won’t find that many pontoon boats that are void of any striping across the exterior. What makes pinstripes awesome is that they can take on a number of different shapes, patterns, and colors. Since you’re able to pick and choose from limitless combinations, pinstripe decals are the perfect way to explore your own creativity and fish out an identity for your vessel.
3. Life ring decals
A lot of boat owners like to spruce their life ring up a little bit by adding words and graphics. Feel free to put anything that you want on your life ring that complements your personal style. A lot of people like to put their boat’s name and their city and state on the safety device. If you ever have to use your device, this will help someone find you and return your life ring.
4. Your registration number
This one is not an option. You’re required to register your boat and place its registration number in a visible location so it can be identified by the authorities. However, you are permitted to play around with the style of your registration numbers. A lot of pontoon boat owners like to move away from the boring, black numbers and use two-tone or embossed letters for their registration.
The way you want your registration numbers to look is up to you, as long as the numbers are easy to read. Additionally, it’s in your best interest to keep these numbers visible. The authorities will use the registration number to help track down your boat in the event of somebody stealing it.
5. A flag
A decal flag is a great way to give your pontoon boat a little more personality. You can have virtually anything printed and stamped onto the side of your boat. Quirky slogans, your state or national flag, or virtually any other pictures can be printed. It’s a great way to experiment with your own creativity.
More about Decals
Decals are inexpensive and great for helping create that pontoon boat that you’ve always imagined. Unlike interior modifications like adding lights, changing upholstery, or customizing your furniture, adding new decals is quick and easy. Here are some other benefits that you’ll get from picking your own decals for your pontoon boat:
- Decals are the best way to establish an identity for your pontoon.
- Giving your boat a catchy name or adding attention-grabbing patterns on the exterior allows you to add a touch of your own personality to your boat.
- Decals are safe and help to make your pontoon boat easier to spot, which will be a blessing if you’re ever in an emergency situation.
- Adding decals to your life ring makes it easier to find in the water, which could save someone’s life.
Placing Your Order
Alternatively, you can go the route of having someone make your decals. If you have a creative side, you can draft up some plans that can help you put some of your personality into your boat.
Having your own decals made is as simple as going to a shop that specializes in industrial printing or bodywork. Chances are, there’s a shop in or near your town that’s able to do the work. Just make sure that your decals are made from high-performance cast vinyl that’s UV stabilized so that they can withstand usage in a marine environment.
Make Sure You Know What You’re Doing
If you decide to apply the decals yourself, here are some tips that will help you do the job properly:
- If you’re outdoors, choose a warm day without wind to begin.
- Wash the boat with warm soap and water. After you've finished, give it a scrub with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils or residue.
- Dry with a microfiber towel.
- Use a tape measure or yardstick to draw a straight line where you’re putting the decal. This will help you keep your decal straight as you put it on.
The purpose of decals is to make your boat look sleeker and more stylish. You won’t be able to achieve this if you put your decals on skew or leave a number of bubbles and bends in them. If you don’t have the steady hands of a surgeon, it’s probably best to let a professional with bodywork experience apply your decals for you.