Shrink Wrapping Your Boat: Is It Worth the Cost?

How Much Does It Cost To Shrink Wrap A Boat

When the boating season comes to a close, and the weather takes a turn for the cooler, winterizing your boat is an essential part of taking care of it for the season. Between fuel stabilizing, antifreeze, and storage, there's a lot to take care of before the winter rolls around and starts to impact your boat. But what about shrink wrapping?

While it can be simple to buy a boat cover or (slightly less straightforward) to find storage for your ship, shrink wrapping provides an alternative option. The process involves setting a polyethylene material around your boat, which shrinks when exposed to extreme heat to form an airtight seal to withstand the elements and prevent UV damage.

But how much does it cost to shrink wrap a boat? And is it worth the investment?

DIY Project vs. Yard Costs

As with many other boat maintenance and winterizing activities, shrink wrapping can happen in one of two ways: taking it in for a professional job or deciding to handle a DIY project. In many cases, activities are much more budget friendly if you do them yourself. But whether that holds for shrink wrapping or not isn't as clear cut.

Taking your boat to the yard for shrink wrapping will easily cost you a couple of hundred dollars. Usually, the rate for costs is how much polyethylene is necessary to cover your boat; power boat prices and sailboat prices can differ depending on the size of your model. The larger the ship, the higher the price tag you can expect at the end of the day.

While it would be nice if handling a DIY job cost less, you're potentially looking at the same sort of expense, if not more. Shrink wrapping involves a lot of different pieces, not least of all the propane-fired heat gun necessary for providing the temperatures that make the polyethylene shrink to cling tightly to the boat. Some starter kits can easily cost $600 to $1200, though it's also possible to rent the gun for a week.

Aside from the cost of getting the equipment, you also need to handle the process of actually shrink wrapping. Propane heat guns work with open flames, which can take time to get used to, plus you need to set up the polyethylene so that it closes correctly around your boat, rather than bunching. In the end, you may pay the same amount but with a lot more hassle of handling the project yourself.

Tools and Materials Needed

While not a simple DIY project, it's still possible to shrink wrap your boat. To do so, you'll need:

Propane heat gun

●  Shrinkwrap

●  Adhesive spray

●  Protective gloves

●  Shrink wrap knife

●  Strapping

●  Tape

●  Vents

●  Vertical Supports

●  Zipper door

Even if you have all the right parts to use, it can take practice to get used to handling the heat gun and shrinking the wrap so that it's tight enough to seal. If done correctly, you can leave your boat shrink wrapped for the winter without any issues, but it can be challenging to do correctly.

Other Considerations About Shrink Wrapping

Here are a few other things to consider when using shrink wrap on your boat.

Handling Open Flames and Safety

If you've never used a propane heat gun before, it can be intimidating to get used to the open flame one produces, especially for the time that it can take to shrink wrap a whole boat. You also need to be careful since the polyethylene is flammable, and putting the flame too close to the ship can damage the paint.

For your safety, you should always wear heat-resistant gloves while handling the heat gun. You also need to tape over the fuel vent of your boat to prevent igniting any vapors.

The Cost of Not Shrink Wrapping

As we've covered, shrink wrapping can be expensive, no matter what avenue you choose to use. So why bother when you can purchase an inexpensive tarp and let that take care of issues for the winter?

While a tarp is a standard option, the truth is that it doesn't provide nearly as much protection as fully shrink wrapping your boat can. Wind, rain, snow, and ice can quickly end up beneath a tarp, potentially allowing water to become trapped beneath it and freeze, which can cause extensive damage and costly repairs come springtime.

Shrink wrapping, in contrast, creates an airtight seal that won't let any water in when done correctly, giving you a much more secure way to protect your boat during the winter. Sure, if you go ice fishing, you won't want the wrap to get in the way. New and used boats ultimately have different standards.

If your boat's older, it might not be worth the expense of shrink wrapping. But for new boat prices, a professional wrap can keep your ship in top shape.