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Taping on shrink wrap

Installing a shrink wrap cover for transportation using 4” Hull Preservation Tape (Hull Tape) to hold the shrink wrap cover onto the boat is a quick, durable, and cost effective method of protection during transit.

Most boat builders tape their shrink wrap covers on with Hull Tape, and they provide no support system on the top of the boats. This style of shrink wrap cover is designed only for transportation and not for protection against snow load or heavy rain damage.

It is very simple to cover boats this way. First de-wax the hull with mineral spirits where the Hull Tape will adhere to it. All sharp objects are padded, the shrink wrap is laid over the boat, the shrink wrap is then trimmed and taped all around the hull, then heat is applied with a shrink wrap heat gun to shrink it. Then, patch holes with shrink wrap tape and install shrink wrap vents.
  1. Pad sharp objects on the boat, and also all items such as vinyl interiors that could be damaged by excessive heat. Generally, one layer of shrink wrap over vinyl will be sufficient. Place anti-chafe tape on all areas that may be abraded, including vinyl graphics. Tape over the fuel vent to prevent fumes from escaping or use a fuel vent cap.
  2. Determine how far down the hull sides the shrink wrap will come. The shrink wrap should cover all vinyl graphics so that the hull tape will not touch the graphics.
  3. This step is very important - the hull must have all wax and mold releases removed where the hull tape will attach. Use rags and isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to clean a swath along the hull at least 8 inches wide. This will assure proper adhesion of the tape.
  4. Install a simple shrink wrap support structure by running 3⁄4” strapping from one cleat on the stern, through the cleat or to the top of the rail on the opposite side at the bow, then through the other bow cleat or rail, and finally to the opposite stern cleat. You should have a crisscross pattern. Pull the strapping tight so that it will support the shrink wrap film - you can sue the strap tension tool to tighten it. This should be done on all boats and gives extra support in case the shrink wrap covers are left on for extended periods.
  5. Pull the shrink wrap over the boat, making sure it doesn’t touch the ground. Static electricity will allow the shrink wrap to pick up dirt and grime and will affect the shrinking and adhesion of the tape.
  6. Once you have enough shrink wrap over the length of the boat, tape it below the rub rail at the bow on each side to hold it in position. Now cut the shrink wrap at the stern 4”-6” below where it will be taped on. Trim the shrink wrap in the center of the transom and tape it to the hull. Now that the shrink wrap is taped fore and aft, it will be held in place while it is trimmed completely around the hull using a Film Cutting Knife. Use this tool to cut the shrink wrap in a straight line around the hull, which will make it much easier to tape. Plus, this special knife cannot damage the hull or cut you.
  7. Before you begin taping the shrink wrap to the hull, form pleats at each side of the windshield. Then fold the pleats towards the stern, pull the shrink wrap until it is taut, and tape the shrink wrap to the hull at that point.
  8. Now the entire shrink wrap cover can be taped to the hull using 4” hull tape. Start at the bow or stern and tape as closely as possible so that the tape is half on the shrink wrap and half on the hull. Rub the tape to eliminate air bubbles under it. Always cut the tape rather than tearing it, as rough edges allow moisture under the tape which can ruin the adhesive. Make sure the tape is sticking tightly to the hull around the transom and swim platform.
  9. At this point, the shrink wrap cover is ready to be completely shrunk. Begin at the bottom of the shrink wrap cover, at the bow or stern, using a heat tool as though you are spray painting. Note: shrink wrap can burn. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby at all times. Shrink the wrap up to the rub rail around the entire boat, before shrinking the top. This will pull the excess out of the top and provide a much tighter shrink wrap boat cover.
  10. After the shrink wrap cover is totally heated and shrunk, go around the boat and repair any holes with shrink wrap tape.
To recap the most important steps:
  1. Padding sharp objects, cleaning the hull of all waxes and release agents, and taping the fuel vent.
  2. Running 3⁄4” strapping fore and aft to make a simple, strong support structure for the shrink wrap to rest on.
  3. Cutting the shrink wrap in a straight line around the hull.
  4. Applying the hull tape equally to the shrink wrap and the hull, then rubbing the hull tape to eliminate air bubbles and help assure complete adhesion.