Cost to Shrink Wrap a Boat: Essential Factors and Breakdown

Last updated:
Cost to Shrink Wrap a Boat

An important aspect to consider is the size and type of boat, as prices often vary depending on these factors. On average, the cost to shrink wrap a boat ranges from $8 to $25 per foot. Sailboats, for example, may incur an additional fee if the mast is left raised. Other factors to consider include optional wrapping features such as anti-moisture bags and adding entrances.

While the initial investment may seem substantial, it’s essential to weigh the benefits against the cost. Shrink wrapping offers superior protection compared to traditional boat covers, ensuring your boat remains safe and undamaged during periods of non-use. In the next sections, I will continue to explore various factors that may impact the overall cost and whether it’s worth the investment for your boat.

The Process of Boat Shrink Wrapping

As a boat owner, I am quite familiar with the process of boat shrink wrapping. To begin, we need to prepare the boat for wrapping. This involves cleaning the boat surface and removing any loose items or debris that could damage the shrink wrap material.

Next, a frame of support poles is installed on the boat to provide a stable structure for the shrink wrap to cover. This frame often includes ridge poles that run along the length of the boat as well as arches or uprights placed at regular intervals to support the weight of the shrink wrap material.

Once the support structure is in place, large sheets of shrink wrap material, usually made from polyethylene with UV inhibitors, are draped over the boat. The sheets are then trimmed and seamed together using a special tape, ensuring that the entire boat is covered.

With the boat fully covered, a propane-fired heat gun is used to apply heat evenly across the shrink wrap. As the heat is applied, the polyethylene material contracts, forming a tight seal around the boat. This seal helps keep out moisture and contaminants, as well as prevents the stretching and tearing often seen with traditional tarps.

During the shrinking process, it is essential to use proper ventilation techniques by installing vent caps in strategic locations on the boat. This prevents any moisture buildup or mold growth under the shrink wrap during storage.

Finally, any doors or access points can be added using special shrink-wrap zippers, allowing easy access to the boat without compromising the integrity of the wrap. Once complete, your boat is ready to withstand the harsh elements while in storage.

In my experience, boat shrink wrapping provides superior protection as compared to using traditional tarps and ropes. Although it can be a more costly endeavor with prices ranging from $12 to $25 per square foot for professional wrapping, it ensures the longevity and preservation of your vessel during the off-season.

Materials Used in Shrink Wrapping a Boat

Shrink wrapping a boat involves using a few specific materials to ensure the boat is properly protected from the elements. One of the primary materials used in this process is shrink wrap, which is a polyethylene material designed to shrink when heated. This material has UV inhibitors, which help to protect the boat from sun-related damage.

Before the shrink wrap is applied, the boat is carefully prepared to ensure it would be well protected. This may include using anti-mold spray, which typically costs around $50, to prevent any mold issues that may arise while the boat is stored. Additionally, anti-moisture bags, vent covers, or other types of moisture-control solutions may be used, each costing approximately $4 to $8. An entrance, if needed, usually costs around $30 to $40.

In the boat shrink wrapping process, a propane-fired heat gun is used for heating the polyethylene material and making it cling tightly to the boat. Starter kits for shrink wrapping including the heat gun can cost between $600 to $1,200, but it is also possible to rent the gun, usually on a weekly basis. It’s essential to be cautious when using the heat gun, as improper handling could lead to potential damages or accidents.

To secure the shrink wrap in place, a perimeter band is wrapped around the boat, and belly bands are applied to the edges of the shrink wrap and the boat’s trailer or blocks. These bands ensure the shrink wrap stays put and creates a snug seal around the boat, providing an effective barrier against weather and other external factors.

In summary, the materials used in shrink wrapping a boat include polyethylene shrink wrap, a propane-fired heat gun, perimeter and belly bands, moisture-control solutions, and UV inhibitors. The costs of these materials and the process can vary, but the investment in shrink wrapping your boat provides valuable protection during storage and transportation.

Cost Factors for Shrink Wrapping a Boat

Size of the Boat

The primary cost factor I consider when shrink wrapping a boat is the size of the boat. Generally, the boat shrink wrap cost per foot ranges from $8 to $25. Bigger boats need more material and time, which leads to higher costs. Example: a 20-foot-long boat would cost between $160 and $500.

Type of Boat

Another factor that affects the cost is the type of boat. Sailboats with the mast raised can increase the price by up to $3 per foot compared to other boat types. Additionally, various boat shapes or additional structures might require special attention, leading to variations in the total cost.

Geographical Location

The cost of shrink wrapping a boat can also vary depending on my geographical location. Local climate and regional pricing differences may contribute to the overall cost. For instance, in places with harsher winters, there might be a higher demand for boat shrink wrapping services, causing prices to increase.

Labor Costs

Finally, labor costs have a significant impact on the total cost of shrink wrapping a boat. Some professionals charge an hourly rate while others price their services based on the boat’s size and complexity. I may also encounter additional fees, such as:

  • Anti-moisture bags: $8 each
  • Adding an entrance: $30 – $40
  • Anti-mold spray: $50
  • Vents for mold protection: $4 each
  • Shrink-wrapping a boat in the water: $100 – $150 extra

By considering these factors, I can get an accurate sense of how much it will cost to shrink wrap my boat. External factors, like labor and geographical location, can vary widely and may influence the final price more than my boat’s size or type.

Benefits of Boat Shrink Wrapping

Shrink wrapping a boat entails using a polyethylene plastic film, strapping tape, and a propane-powered heat gun. The strong, durable material can withstand harsh weather conditions, making it a protective solution for boats.

One benefit of boat shrink wrapping is that it provides an excellent water, snow, and ice barrier. When properly installed, shrink wrap prevents moisture from entering the boat and offers superb protection from the elements.

In addition to its excellent weather protection, boat shrink wrapping also helps to deter pests. Pests like rodents and insects can cause severe damage to a boat’s interior and exterior surfaces. The tight seal created by the shrink wrap keeps pests out, ensuring the boat stays in top condition.

Another significant advantage of boat shrink wrapping is its UV protection. Prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays can fade and crack surfaces over time. By shrink-wrapping the boat, owners can protect the paintwork, gel coat, and interiors from the sun’s damaging effects.

Unlike standard boat covers, shrink wrapping ensures custom-fit and tailored protection for boats of all shapes and sizes. The polyethylene film tightly clings to the boat’s contours, offering a secure, snug fit that standard covers may not provide.

Finally, boat shrink wrapping is a cost-effective solution for boat owners. Though the initial investment can be between $600 to $1200 for a starter kit, it can save owners from costly repairs and maintenance due to weather damage, pests, or UV exposure in the long run. Renting a heat gun can be an even more affordable option at just $75 a week, with rolls of shrink wrap ranging from $100 to $300.

In summary, boat shrink wrapping offers a tailored, protective barrier against harsh weather, pests, and UV rays. Its cost-effective nature helps owners save on long-term repairs and maintenance, making it a worthwhile investment for boat owners.

Alternatives to Shrink Wrapping

When considering how to protect your boat during the offseason or for storage, you may wonder if there are alternatives to shrink wrapping. Indeed, there are other options available that can provide similar protection and may be more suitable for your needs.

One popular alternative is using boat tarps. These durable, weather-resistant covers can effectively shield your boat from the elements. Tarps are typically less expensive than shrink wrap, and since they are reusable, they can help to spread costs over many years. There are various sizes, materials, and colors available on the market, so you can find the one that best suits your needs.

Another option to consider is indoor storage. While it may be more expensive initially, storing your boat indoors can provide the ultimate protection from rain, snow, ice, and UV rays. By keeping your boat in a temperature-controlled environment, you can help minimize the risk of mold and mildew growth, which could result in costly repairs.

For some boat owners, reusing existing shrink wrap is a viable option. By carefully removing the shrink wrap at the end of the storage season, you may be able to reuse it in the following year. This method requires extra care and patience, but it can help save on the cost of purchasing new shrink wrap each year.

In conclusion, there are several alternatives to shrink wrapping your boat, ranging from reusable covers like tarps to indoor storage or even reusing existing shrink wrap. Each option has its pros and cons, and by carefully considering your needs, the size and type of your boat, and your budget, you can choose the right solution for you.

Cost Saving Tips for Shrink Wrapping Your Boat

I recommend a few tips to help save money when it comes to shrink wrapping your boat. It’s essential to get the best deal possible without sacrificing quality.

First, consider whether or not you can complete the shrink wrapping process yourself. If you have a small boat, you may be able to handle the task on your own, and it could save you hundreds of dollars. Just ensure that you have the right parts and tools, and don’t be afraid to practice a bit before starting the job on your boat. Remember, properly using the heat gun and making the wrap tight enough to seal is crucial for a successful result.

Second, if you decide to hire a professional, try to get multiple quotes from different providers. This will give you a better understanding of the average cost in your area and help you choose the best option for your boat. Don’t forget to factor in any additional costs, such as the installation of vents or adding an entrance, which may not be included in the initial quote.

Lastly, think about purchasing materials in bulk or collaborating with fellow boaters. By pooling resources, you can share the cost of materials, such as plastic wrap, anti-mold spray, and vents, which could lead to significant savings. Also, when possible, store your boat on land instead of water, as shrink-wrapping a boat in the water usually costs extra.

Following these cost-saving tips, coupled with careful planning and research, can help you effectively shrink-wrapping your boat without breaking the bank.

Photo of author


I am an experienced captain with over 6 years of experience navigating the waters of the North Carolina coast and the Chesapeake Bay. I am the founder of Vanquish Boats, a leading resource for boating enthusiasts seeking to learn more about boating safety, navigation, and maintenance. Whether you're a seasoned boater or a novice just starting out, you're in the right spot to get the most out of your time on the water.

Leave a Comment