DIY Boat Name Lettering

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

Doing the design and installation work on our DIY vinyl lettering was easier than we expected and VERY cost-effective!There are literally thousands of options for putting your boat name and hailing port on your boat, ranging from companies that have graphics designers on staff to create one-of-a-kind artwork and professionals to install it, to companies where you design the lettering and install it, and they simply cut it. And just about everything in between.

For now, we opted for the less expensive DIY option and found a great company to get the lettering from. Our name and hailing port cost just under $30, including shipping – and many other companies charged upwards of $100 for similar apply-it-yourself lettering. Sometime in the future, we’d like to do larger lettering on the side of the boat with a fun “barefoot” graphic, but for now we were concerned with making the boat legal (Barefoot Gal is a documented vessel and thus must have a name and hailing port on the boat).

The company is and they have hundreds of fonts for you to choose from, and more than a dozen colors and several grades of vinyl. From the home page, just click on the “Design Online” button to start playing with all the options. (NOTE: I’m not affiliated with the company and make nothing on sales. I’m just a really satisfied customer.)

TIP: Measure your space before you start – I had a design we both loved, then learned it wouldn’t fit on our transom!

SECOND TIP: Check your state laws or requirements for documented vessels (or regs from your home country) to learn any size and location requirements – again, before you start. See the requirements for US Coast Guard Documented vessels.

Our lettering had to be 4” high and we had a limited space to work with, so I really liked that in the “choose a font” section, they had sorted fonts by category . . . and one was called “compact” meaning tall and narrow. I also wanted it to be fairly bold so that other boats could read it.

We received the lettering in just a few days (maybe 3?) with detailed installation instructions showing several ways to do the installation depending on location and size of the vinyl.  The information is also online (click here), so you can see it ahead of time and judge whether you want to do it yourself (we thought it was reasonably easy but everyone has different feelings about different types of projects . . . ).

Now here’s the really good part – Do It Yourself Lettering guarantees your installation! If you have any problems, they’ll ship you free replacement vinyl. See guarantee. This was huge in our decision to go with them and also to do it ourselves – not just the best price by far, but a “no screw up” guarantee??!! No brainer.

Doing the design and installation work on our DIY vinyl lettering was easier than we expected and VERY cost-effective!

For what it’s worth, it took Dave and I about an hour to put the name and hailing port on Barefoot Gal. One of us probably could have done it alone, but it was easier to pull the backing tape off with two of us working together.

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  1. This was a tougher “install”, also a DIY

  2. I used the same font for names placed on the sides of the boat. Paid more than you, but also came with a good-proof guarantee.

  3. I have a vinyl cutter and am learning and making! So much fun!

  4. Alex Miller says:

    THANK YOU! We are overdue for getting our lettering, as I couldn’t commit to the companies I had looked at designs on. $$$ and the lack of install guarantee had me paralyzed. We need two for the sides and a long name was getting expense (Into The Mystic). A recommendation is much appreciated. We had our renaming ceremony in July and have drug our feet since.

  5. Bryan Cooley check this out! Windswift needs her name…

  6. Thank you Carolyn! This is a huge cost savings. I have been looking into this and this company has the best price I’ve seen and the guarantee is wonderful.

  7. Paula Spence, M/Y Sea Eagle says:

    We ordered ours through Boat U.S. The price was decent they did a great job.

  8. Looks like a great site! We just placed the order for our boat name. Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. Just a heads up with vinyl lettering (similar to the ones you guys used and custom ordered through, we installed ours on the starboard and port aft of the cockpit and thought they looked lovely until docking one day….turns out the vinyl isn’t immune to the occasional dock rub when pulling in to port and one letter was significantly damaged (the vinyl was rubbed off).

  10. The vinyl is also kind of a pain when repainting. Our old letters seemed to leave an imprint that finally required much sanding and some fairing. It is easy to get a good look though!

  11. We got almost five years out of ours, but it’s failing now. Still a good choice.

  12. Looks great, too.

  13. We used a similar type of company for vinyl lettering same cost, $30 including shipping . Turned out great!

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