Absolutely use your local sign guy. My wife designed multi-color graphics for Paloma's stern, we emailed it a local sign shop them and they produced everything withing a couple of days - great job - and that was 10 years ago - everything still looks like new.
Vinyl isn't all the same. Exterior Grade vinyl may be sold with a 3-5-7 year warranty against cracking fading and peeling, and "interior" grade vinyl won't hold up in the UV exposure. The glue is not as tenacious, and the color is often just not as hevily pigmented.
A friend of mine used some interior vinyl because it saved him $20, and by the end of the season it was all bleached out.
3M makes a top quality vinyl, along with a couple of other big names in the business. If your local shop says "This is just as good" ask them to give you a written guarantee that they'll come out and redo the job for you if it doesn't hold up. They won't.
Agree on the local sign guy. More than likely, they have experience in boat lettering. Meaning, they should know what works best. I would not go with the interior stuff. As with most things not made for the environment, I would bet it won't stand up as well.
I priced some online services, which ended up being more expensive, and harder to get what I wanted.
The sign guy in Rockland, ME (PDQ Signs) worked with me until it was right. Printed off long mockups so I could bring it home to the boat and tape it up to see if it would work. THAT was nice!
Then, when all was set, he made the lettering and graphics (even threw in a couple extra), gave me the soapy solution (his secret blend) and a squeegee/scraper. All for quite a bit less than I found online.
He didn't mention different kinds of vinyl, but he had done a lot of boats...so I felt confident in his stuff.
I had the best luck with a heat gun and razors. I have a heated razor knife which is nice, but probably not necessary. Heat gun and regular razors should do it.
But...BE CAREFUL. If you use razor blades, snip the corners off as they easily dig into gelcoat. But, the heatgun really helped and the lettering came right off.
I used Acetone to get the glue.
If the lettering has been there a while (years), you'll probably see slightly raised lettering still on the gelcoat (different wear and fading). I carefully wet sanded and polished the area which did the trick.
Scottyt, I'm not sure if I've cause offense to you or anyone else for that matter. If so, my sincere apologies to all. My comment was about shaving one's legs with a plastic razor and was probably in bad taste. It was just a poor attempt at humor that seemed pretty funny (in my mind at least)at the time. It was not meant to offend. I'm guessing now, my lame attempt should have stayed in my head. Again, my apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Bob
I used the same 7 yr vinyl on my boat as I use on my company trucks, no issues with either. Boat has been on for 3 yrs, trucks upwards of 18, on the 18 yr old one, the last 2-3 have really started to have issues. The boat, I will assume due to the salt water, is fading a bit more in the same time frame vs the trucks. BUT, still overall, doing fine.
As mentioned, do NOT skimp on the vinyl quality, that part of the whole equation of things is cheap! Labor is the same no matter which way you go. In y case, about 300 for the lettering on my boat, to save $20 and have to spend an additional 300 the following yr........not much of a savings thank you very much!
Like all things great and small, for those thinking $300 is high, it all depends upon the lettering you get, time involved etc. I have a two tone lettering, sides, and transom along with the st and city. For what I got, I thought pretty reasonable from my sign guy!
Hi guys, I have been producing Vinyl lettering for boats as a sideline for years.
Given the choice, I wouldn't use anything but 3M Vinyl.
It is cast as opposed to being extruded, and therefore won't shrink, leaving the glue line round the edges. It's impervious to salt water, and always looks great.
I use the blue reflective material commonly used for traffic signs, as it glows in the dark if a torch is shone on it, even from a long way away.
Helps other people see you, and it's great for finding your boat in a strange marina in the dark - just put a piece near the top of your mast.