A new boat is pristine and shiny, but it takes a beating thanks to the elements. In time, it may begin to show its age. Its paint will lose its luster and flourishes such as side stripes may begin to peel. Berthing accidents may leave war wounds on the topsides of the boat.

You can restore your boat to its former glory with a few days of dock work. With some gel-coat filling, cutting compound, and several days of polishing, you could get your boat ship-shape again-at least for now. But if you’d like a quicker solution, and one that will protect the integrity of your boat over time, consider a boat wrap.

Boat wrapping covers the sides of your boat with a vinyl film that will restore its new-boat sheen and protect the paint underneath. You can use whatever color you want without committing your boat to a permanent paint job. This leaves you free to re-wrap your boat with a new shade of vinyl film in the future.

Before applying the vinyl, remove any old graphics from the exterior of your boat. If they aren’t coming up easily, try using the combination of heat from a blow dryer and a paint scraper. This should loosen the adhesive so that you can peel the graphics off with ease.

Make sure to fill and smooth any scratches, dings, or bumps on the boat so that they don’t show up beneath the vinyl. When everything is smooth, give the boat a final wash with soap and water to remove any salt and grime that may have accumulated. When the boat is dry, give it a final wipe down to eliminate any remaining grease or other residue.

To apply the vinyl, start by marking the top and bottom edges of the boat’s topsides to indicate where the vinyl will begin and end. Remember that the vinyl wrap is not designed to go below the waterline. If you want, you can leave a few inches of gel-coat between the vinyl and the waterline.

Apply the vinyl strips along the length of the hull. Remove the backing strip so that the adhesive surface can be pressed over the gel-coat with a squeegee. A heat gun will make the vinyl more agile so that you can stretch it smoothly over the topsides of the boat.

Repeat this process on the other side of the boat, giving the vinyl film a 2-inch overlap at the bow where the two sides will join. When you are done laying down the vinyl, apply the style lines to complement the color of the strips. Without much hassle or cost, you can get a sleek new look for your boat.