How to Remove Vinyl Letters from a Fiberglass Boat


The problem with vinyl lettering is that it sticks to fiberglass well enough that organizations like the United States Coast Guard consider it "permanent" marking of a boat. Since its removal requires a tool, heat and more effort than a casual thief is likely to invest, the word permanent may apply. If, however, a willing soul takes the time, has the heat and the tool, and makes the effort, he can remove the vinyl letters from the boat and prove that "permanent" is a relative term.

Things You'll Need

  • Hair dryer
  • Plastic scraper
  • Turn the hair dryer on the low heat setting. Keeping it about 6 inches away from the lettering, move the dryer back and forth to soften the vinyl.

  • Work the plastic scraper under one edge of the vinyl. Move the hair dryer along as you lift the vinyl. Keep the hair dryer in motion. If the vinyl gets very soft, pull the hair dryer back to avoid overheating the the vinyl and scorching the hull.

  • Spray an adhesive remover on the gel coat -- apply it liberally. Use a clean rag or a clean scrubber sponge to scrub the area and "roll up" any remaining adhesive.

  • Dip a clean rag into polishing compound and apply the polishing compound to the gel coat surface by hand, using an overlapping, circular motion to ensure complete coverage. Use an orbital buffer to buff the surface to a glossy finish.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the old name leaves behind a discolored reminder, the way moving a couch reminds you what the carpet looked like when it was new, apply some rubbing compound with a clean cloth, and polish it away.
  • Do not use a metal scraper to remove the vinyl.

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  • Photo Credit Creative Crop/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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