Tips, Tricks & Trends

How Much Does It Cost To Shrink Wrap a Boat?

Winter is already breathing down our necks. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who live in a region where it never freezes and you’re able to boat throughout the winter months, now is the time to haul your boat out of the water. It’s also time to think about winterizing your boat. 

If you’re one of the many people who entered into boat ownership during 2020, prepping your boat for the winter is a new experience. There are many costs associated with insuring your boat makes it through the cold season in tip-top condition. One of the things you’ll have to consider is the cost of having your boat encased in shrink wrap.

Should you shrink-wrap your boat?

Boat shrink wrap
Boat shrink wrap | John Blanding, Boston Globe staff

Having your boat encased in shrink wrap is a major expense. The estimate often makes boat owners question whether it’s necessary. Some boat owners can avoid this particular step when they winterize their boat, but they are few and far between. More than one boat owner has decided that they could forgo having their boat shrink-wrapped by simply using their boat cover. Most regretted the decision.

The shrink wrap that is used to encase your boat, is extremely tight, The tightness of the material prevents ice from damaging your boat when it is struck by winter weather. Boat covers don’t fit as tightly over the boat. All it takes is one tiny tear or lose spot in the cover and the wind will rip the cover from your boat, exposing it to the elements. If the wind doesn’t disturb the cover, the build-up of snow on the top of the cover will eventually damage your cover and boat. Repairing the damage after simply using a cover during the winter is often expensive.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have an indoor space you can use to store your boat, it’s in your best interest to invest in shrink wrap.

How to shrink wrap your boat

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Before your boat is encased in shrink wrap, it needs to be removed from the water and allowed to dry. Smaller boats are often left on their trailer while larger boats are transferred to stabilizing blocks. After the boat has sat in the sun for a few days, the shrink wrap process can begin.

The boat should be in a well-ventilated space so that the fumes associated with the shrink wrapping process can dissipate. Measuring the boat determines how much material is needed to complete the process. Add fourteen inches to both sides.

The fuel line valve is turned off and all remaining fuel is drained from the fuel lines before shrink wrap tape is applied to the fuel vents. Padding is placed over the boat’s corners and sharp edges. The padding is crucial. Without the padding, the shrink wrap would tear as it’s pulled tight over the boat. Support posts and strapping is used to create a frame for the shrink wrap. A perimeter band is wrapped around the boat. 

Clean shrink wrap is draped over the entire boat and tucked under the boat’s perimeter band. A heat tool is used on the shrink wrap, securing it to the band. Belly bands are attached to both the edges of the shrink wrap and the boat’s trailer/blocks. The shrink wrap is tucked in tight to the stern. Heat welds the shrink wrap in place. With the perimeter of the shrink wrap in place, heat is applied to the rest of the shrink wrap. Weak points are reinforced with tape. Adhesive vents are attached to the shrink wrap. Once these vents are cut open and properly capped, your boat is ready for winter.

How much does it cost to have your boat encased in shrink wrap?

Having your boat encased in shrink wrap for the winter isn’t cheap. Professional boat shrink wrappers use the boat’s size to determine the final amount. When you have the boat covered by a professional, you should plan on spending $12-25 per square foot. You can save a little money if you do the work yourself.