Sign Designing Tips

When designing a sign there are a few things to consider to make an appealing visible sign.

Use contrasting colors

A dark color on a dark background is difficult to read even up close. Consider a drop shadow or outline using a different color in this situation. Using contrasting colors is the easiest way to create a more visual appealing sign.

Use a Specialty Vinyl

A specialty vinyl is often a great complement to a lettering design. Consider using a specialty vinyl as a top color then outline or shadows in solid colors. The reverse of this is also great combination

Bigger is better

In the sign industry we always get the question, "What size do you recommend?". Our answer to that is the bigger the better. Bigger lettering are able to be read from further away.


What products or services does Boat Lettering To You offer?

Boat Lettering To You provides premium boat decals and lettering specifically designed for enduring the elements, ensuring resistance to fading and weathering. Our user-friendly designer tool enables customers to instantly visualize their designs online. Our lettering comes pre-spaced with transfer tape to ensure an easy do-it-yourself application. With various fonts, styles, and graphics available, we offer effortless customization. Additionally, we offer personalized merchandise like T-shirts and can coolers, ensuring a unique and fun experience for our customers.

What is your turnaround time?

Normal production time is 3-5 business days. Domed boat lettering or numbers are produced within 7-10 days typically. Once your order is complete you will receive tracking information via email. During peak season these times are not exact, please upgrade to our rush services if you need quickly.

Are rush services available?

Yes, we do offer rush services! This can be selected in checkout. Most orders will ship out by the next business day. If we miss the rush delivery target date, we will notify and refund the rush charge to you. Expedited shipping is available as well, please select the shipping method with next day production in mind. We can sometimes get orders out the same day, please contact us to see if it’s possible. It is not recommended to select standard shipping if you have paid for a rush service.

How do you install your product?

Temperature Requirements: Surface temperatures should be between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit before attempting the installation. As a general rule, if the surface is hot to the touch it's over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Adhesive becomes brittle when it gets too cold and gummy when it gets too hot. Applications outside the recommended range of 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit reduce the adhesives' ability to perform.

Dry Method - Adhesive Backed Vinyl Application Instructions (RECOMMENDED)

  1. Read all of our directions first!
  2. Clean the surface well to avoid dust and oil under the vinyl.
  3. ATTENTION: Place your lettering on a hard flat surface, take your squeegee and run over the entire decal pressing firmly. This firmly bonds the transfer paper to the vinyl.
  4. Without removing the backing, place sign exactly in the position it is to be located.
  5. Hold everything temporarily into place with masking tape.
  6. Step back and see how it looks.
  7. Once applied, it cannot be repositioned.
  8. Measure twice to assure accuracy, measure from the flat areas on numbers and letters.
  9. Apply a piece of masking tape across the entire top edge, to make a hinge.
  10. Fold the sign back along the tape hinge.
  11. Remove the backing (back side), revealing the sticky side (Only remove the backing - DO NOT remove the transfer tape - Front Side)
  12. CAUTION: Do not allow the sign to fall freely on the surface or it will stick there and potentially ruin the vinyl if you try to remove it.
  13. ** Hold the sign away from the surface. With a squeegee (plastic spatula, bondo applicator, etc.) carefully begin to squeegee down the top 1 to 2 inches along the top edge. Work from the hinge down, squeegee down and out over the remaining sign area, but be careful not to trap any air bubbles behind the vinyl.
  14. Remove the transfer tape by slowly peeling it back from the sign.
  15. The sign will remain in place if it has been firmly applied.
  16. If any air bubbles appear, puncture with a pin and squeeze the area to flatten the bubbles.
  17. Tiny bubbles will disappear over time with the heat of the sun.

Wet Method - Application of Adhesive Backed Vinyl

  1. This method makes it easy to put down large graphics with less air bubbles. Take your time and you will get professional looking results.
  2. You can use this method as above with a tape hinge by inserting the following steps after the coordinating symbols. OR You can "float" the sign on the surface without a tape hinge; this will allow a small amount of movement for straightening.
  3. Create a Liquid Soapy Water Mixture: Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of dish soap with 32 oz. of water. Mix in a spray bottle.
  4. Prepare mix before you begin application.
  5. ATTENTION: Place your lettering on a hard flat surface, take your squeegee and run over the entire decal pressing firmly. This firmly bonds the transfer paper to the vinyl.
  6. * Spray a liberal amount of soap & water mixture on the surface to which you are applying the vinyl AND the adhesive side of the vinyl - first remove the paper backing.
  7. ** Squeegee out the water. Allow the water to dry before removing the transfer tape. MUST let dry for ATLEAST 12 hours in SUN or use hair dryer to assure the lettering has strongly adhered to the surface.
  8. CAUTION: In both Dry Method and Wet Method, once the sign has been applied it cannot be repositioned. It can be removed by applying a little heat with a hair dryer AND peeling it away. The sign is not reusable once it has been removed.
Is the color on the screen exactly what I’ll get?

Unfortunately, it's tough to get the colors to match perfectly. We do our best to match what is represented on screen, but there are differences in computer monitors, tablets, and mobile devices. The color can vary between device and screen resolution. Specialty colors with effects like reflective and ultra metallic are hard to represent onscreen. If you would like to see a sample of a color, please contact for us a color sample.

What type of vinyl does Boat Lettering To You offer?

We generally sell 3M vinyl products, however some of our specialty colors can vary by brand including ORAFOL and Avery Dennison.

How long will my boat lettering last?

Our standard vinyl and high tack is rated for up to 5 years. Our premium vinyl is rated for 8-10 years. Some specialty colors like fluorescent can fade quicker in direct sunlight. For more UV protection upgrade your lettering to domed.

Do you ship internationally?

Yes, we can. However, currently on our site we don’t offer international shipping at checkout, but if you contact us directly, we can give you an accurate quote with duty’s and taxes included. This will have to be a custom order.

Can I order over the phone?

While we're happy to discuss design possibilities over the phone, for accurate quoting and documentation, we require specifications via email. Transactions must be completed through our website. If we can accommodate your request, we'll provide a purchase link with the applicable charges for your order.

Will my finalized product exactly match the design I ordered online?

While we aim to replicate your online design, slight variations can occur due to several factors. Colors may differ from what's shown on your monitor, and minor discrepancies in graphic positioning, shadow thickness, gradient transitions, and more may arise. For domed lettering, our preparation process involves rounding edges, simplifying internal holes, and separating letters at our discretion to ensure suitability for doming.

To preview the final prepped design before production, request a proof with your order. Please note, if you decline a proof and are unsatisfied with the design prep, we cannot issue refunds or replacements.

View Color Policy
How does sizing work on your designer?

The size displayed refers to the overall size of the graphic. It includes all hanging letters or elements from the top to the bottom. We don't size based on individual letter heights. For instance, in the image below “My Way”. The Capitol letter “M” is the top height, and the bottom letter of the lowest “y” letter is considered the overall height.

I need help with my design.

When designing a sign there are a few things to consider to make an appealing visible sign.

  • Use contrasting colors: A dark color on a dark background is difficult to read even up close. Consider a drop shadow or outline using a different color in this situation. Using contrasting colors is the easiest way to create a more visual appealing sign.
  • Use a Specialty Vinyl: A specialty vinyl is often a great complement to a lettering design. Consider using a specialty vinyl as a top color then outline or shadows in solid colors. The reverse of this is also great combination.
  • Bigger is better: In the sign industry we always get the question, "What size do you recommend?". Our answer to that is the bigger the better. You can read the lettering from further away if it is bigger.
  • Still can’t find what you want? Email us at to see if we can help.
What size lettering should I get?

Generally, a practical way to begin sizing is by considering the total width of your boat's back area for applying the lettering, like the name 'Miss Liberty.' For example, if that area is around 40 inches wide, inputting 36 inches in the width box would provide roughly a 2-inch margin on each side. The website will calculate and display the letter height accordingly. Using this example, it might show the Capital letter M height from Miss Liberty at 4 inches tall. If you want the lettering to be taller without altering the width, you can uncheck the 'Maintain Proportions' option. Then, input a new height, and the on-screen preview will adjust to reflect the updated proportions, or if you would like the lettering to be the same size in height, we would recommend all caps.

Why doesn’t my lettering fit?

Our website shows the overall size and prompts you to set your dimensions during ordering. Please measure accurately before placing an order, as we produce your lettering based on the size details seen in your shopping cart and receipt. Unless requested before production, we don’t make adjustments to the ordered size. If you ordered multiple lines of lettering, please check your overall size on the order confirmation.

How much does lettering cost?

When designing boat lettering online, the pricing is visible on the “Your Price” tab and will adjust with color changes and sizing. Due to the customized nature of graphics, our designer allows you to see how each color combination and size alteration impacts your pricing. For specific custom requests and pricing details, please submit a request via our contact page.

Do you discount large orders?

Absolutely, we're happy to provide discounted pricing for substantial bulk orders. Our special pricing doesn't have predefined quantities or limits, as each order is unique in its specifications and complexity. We tailor quotes for every job, considering the overall size and scope of the project. If you are dealer, please contact us for dealer application.

Can you do custom graphics?

Certainly! We have the capability to create custom graphics and logo decals most image file types. For designs beyond basic text and graphics that can be created with our online design tool, we kindly ask you to submit a quote request. Should you wish to order both lettering designed on the website and a custom graphic or image, you can proceed with online designs at checkout and then submit a quote request for the custom designs. This may incur an art fee depending on how complex the design may be. Please note we will not replicate manufacturer logos. In peak season we can’t guarantee a fast turnaround for custom designs. If you have a design file already done and ready for printing, please contact us for a quote and we can print within our normal production window.

Can I return my boat lettering?

We do not accept returns or offer refunds for custom-designed products. However, ensuring customer satisfaction is our priority. We're committed to assisting you as best as possible to ensure you receive the product you desire. Please review our return/exchange policy

View Policy
How long will my lettering last in the original package?

We recommend installing your lettering within 45 days of purchase. Make sure to remove your lettering from the box once received, verify it is correct and let it lie flat. If it has been in the box for over a couple of weeks, we also recommend going over the lettering with a squeegee to help bond the application tape to the lettering for a smooth installation.

Is it possible to match colors from a previous order?

Unfortunately, due to ongoing supply challenges in the sign industry, ensuring an exact color match between orders isn't guaranteed. The variability in film availability from month to month has necessitated substitutions of various colors to uphold a diverse range.

For customers aiming to match a previous order, we encourage reaching out to us. While most subsequent orders will be reasonably similar, it's vital to communicate beforehand to set realistic expectations. It's not that we can't fulfill the request; rather, we strive to verify and provide the closest match possible.

What size do I make my boat registration numbers?

For compliance with state laws we recommend 3 inch high lettering. Certain states mandate spacing between the first letters and the last two. If you have any concerns, please reach out to us. Our standard spacing generally meets compliance requirements unless additional outlines and shadows are incorporated. We advise verifying with your local state ordinances for precise adherence to state laws.

Do I get two boat registration numbers?

Yes, if you choose from the selection boat numbers tab, your order will automatically come as a pair. Check your shopping cart quantity if you aren’t sure you selected our numbers tab. If it says it comes as a pair, you will receive two.

I got a citation for non-compliant registration numbers?

On our designer you can customize unique registration numbers that can be non-compliant with state laws. Please make sure you verify your local state laws. Each state has varying requirements, and some local law enforcement can be stricter than others. Typically picking a block font and color that contrasts well against your boat color that is also visible, will not result in citation. We will not replace or refund non-compliant orders or citations that were made as specified on your order.

Do I get two boat names or decals?

Our boat name section does NOT default to a pair. Sometimes customers only need one name. Please update the quantity in your shopping cart if you need one for each side or any additional graphics.

Will the boat lettering stick to my kayak, plastics, or inflatable?

Yes, we offer vinyl suitable for that purpose! When designing, please choose “high tack” during the design process, specifically for the mentioned products. While this is intended for these products, certain textured surfaces may still pose challenges for the vinyl. If unsure about your surface compatibility, feel free to contact us for a sample. For inflatables, please note that deflating the raft may affect the lettering's adhesion.

Can you replace just one letter?

Typically, we will not replace just one letter unless it has not been applied to the surface for less than one week. This is a unique case by case solution. Anything exposed to the elements can change the look of the lettering. We cannot remake logos from manufacturers you already have on your boat.

What are acceptable surfaces for your vinyl?

Acceptable surfaces

  • Glass
  • Boats (with factory gel coat)
  • Metals (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy enamel.)
  • Vehicles (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy enamel.)
  • Fiberglass (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy enamel.)
  • Wood (Must be painted with a smooth, glossy enamel.)
  • Other Painted Surfaces (Paint must be smooth and glossy, vinyl will not stick to oxidized, faded, or peeling paint)
  • Low Energy Plastics (such as found on some kayaks, waverunners, canoes, and other power sports equipment) acceptable if high tack adhesive is selected
  • Inflatables (non textured) are acceptable if high tack adhesive is selected (deflating will cause adhesion issues).

Surfaces vinyl won’t stick on (Not acceptable). We will not replace any items on these surfaces.

  • Cement
  • Raw Lumber
  • Oxidized or faded paint
  • Peeling paint
  • Rubber
  • Inflatables (non textured) deflated after installation.
  • Raw Metals
  • Oily Surfaces
  • Primer Painted Surfaces
  • Rough Gel Coat (on boats)
  • Textured non smooth surfaces, such as paneling found on house boats
  • Surface coatings such as wax or ceramic coating