Power & Motor Yacht - - BOATYARD -

world’s worst pro­duc­ers of haz­ardous byprod­ucts, in­clud­ing diox­ins, PCBs, car­cino­genic ph­tha­lates, and other nas­ties. When its ser­vice life is over, vinyl can be re­cy­cled—PVC can be reused again and again—or bro­ken down (con­trolled in­cin­er­a­tion) in waste­treat­ment plants. Toss­ing it into the land­fill, how­ever, is not good— the bad stuff can leach out into the en­vi­ron­ment. Open burn­ing is even worse. But scrap­ings and blast­ing de­bris from re­mov­ing LP paint has to be col­lected and dis­posed of safely, too, as do left­over sol­vents and other com­po­nents, so there’s no free lunch with either ma­te­rial. If you’re green, do your re­search be­fore choos­ing a top­sides coat­ing.

It’s Not All Vinyl

So where do you start if vinyl turns out to be your fi­nal choice? We talk of “vinyl wrap­ping,” but while most of the stuff that comes off the roll and onto the boat is PVC, some of it isn’t. Some wraps are ac­tu­ally poly­olefins, among the world’s most com­monly used plas­tics; poly­eth­yl­ene and polypropy­lene are both poly­olefins. (Most Tup­per­ware is low-den­sity poly­eth­yl­ene, a safe plas­tic for food stor­age; so is Saran Wrap.) What dif­fer­ence does all this make to the end user? In prac­tice, not much, but it ex­plains why some wraps are fine for in­te­rior use—wood-grain de­signs for cov­er­ing join­ery, for ex­am­ple—but won’t hold up out­side, while oth­ers can be used any­where. There are even wraps for lin­ing swim­ming pools and Jacuzzis. The im­por­tant thing is to match the wrap with its use, some­thing an ex­pe­ri­enced wrap­per will know.

While there are sev­eral man­u­fac­tur­ers of wrap­ping vinyl, two that are used by most pros are 3M’s Wrap Film Se­ries 1080 and Avery Dennison’s Supreme Wrap­ping Film SW900. 3M’s web­site lists 269 vari­a­tions of Se­ries 1080, in enough col­ors and fin­ishes (in­clud­ing metal­lic) to sat­isfy just about any­one. Se­ries 1080 is one of the most pop­u­lar wraps for marine use. A stan­dard roll is 60 inches wide, up to 50 yards long—so un­less you’re wrap­ping a megay­acht, it’s more likely any seams will run lon­gi­tu­di­nally some­where be­tween chine and gun­wale. (Ex­pert wrap­pers can make an over­lapped joint that’s al­most in­vis­i­ble.) Avery Dennison makes SW900 in more than 100 col­ors and ef­fects, in­clud­ing some cool metal­lic films.

Wrap­ping vinyl in­cor­po­rates a pro­tec­tive sur­face layer to im­prove UV and abra­sion re­sis­tance. Vinyl is softer than gel­coat or lin­ear polyurethane, and even with the pro­tec­tive lam­i­nate is more sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age from sun­light, abra­sion (e.g., from fend­ers) or im­pact (e.g., the ten­der or club launch com­ing along­side too hard). Fish­er­men need to be care­ful with the gaff; wake­board­ers and wa­ter­ski­iers have to watch their gear, too.

For belowdecks, 3M’s Di-Noc ar­chi­tec­tural fin­ishes come in a va­ri­ety of de­signs—more than 500, ac­cord­ing to com­pany lit­er­a­ture, in­clud­ing 94 wood­grain pat­terns, just right for re­ju­ve­nat­ing join­ery or even cabin fur­ni­ture. (Au­to­mo­bile wrap shops can even cover spoked wheels with vinyl, so fur­ni­ture is a dod­dle for an ex­pert wrap­per.) For­get strip­ping, sand­ing, and re­coat­ing; just wrap it. In six or seven years you’ll have to re-wrap, but by then you’ll be tired of teak, any­way, and will want some­thing else—maybe cherry or ma­hogany, or even chrome, or just a sim­ple color. Any de­cent wrap­per will have ac­cess to these vinyls and many oth­ers. But vinyl-wrapped join­ery sug­gests to me clear plas­tic slip­cov­ers on fur­ni­ture—I pre­fer not to live sur­rounded by plas­tic, and join­ery that’s prop­erly fin­ished in the first place doesn’t need refin­ish­ing very of­ten if given even a mod­icum of care. Maybe you feel dif­fer­ently.

Ap­pli­ca­tion and Ag­ing

Ap­ply­ing vinyl wrap re­quires few tools: ba­si­cally, squeegees and a heat gun, plus tape to hold it in place un­til it can be tacked down. Un­like LP, which re­quires a paint shop for spray­ing, vinyl can be ap­plied out­side by a crew work­ing from stag­ing. Once the sur­face is scrupu­lously clean—wrap man­u­fac­tur­ers call for “like new” con­di­tion—the main thing is to keep it dust-free. Lay­ing down the vinyl is a job for pro­fes­sion­als: The long lengths of ma­te­rial used to min­i­mize joints make it awk­ward to cor­ral, and work­ing it around com­pound curves, spray rails, hull win­dows, de­sign fea­tures, and other im­ped­i­ments while main­tain­ing a glass-like sur­face takes skill and pa­tience. But the ad­he­sive is low-tack, so the crew can re­po­si­tion the vinyl as nec­es­sary, stretch it, and then use heat to lay it into place around tight curves and cor­ners.

Once the cov­er­ing is just right, squeegee­ing out the air ac­ti­vates the ad­he­sive. There are chan­nels in the vinyl to make this easy; it’s not like try­ing to get air bub­bles out of a wind­shield sticker, some­thing I can’t do to save my life. Marine wrap­pers add a primer around the edges to im­prove ad­he­sion be­fore lay-

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