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Is Shrinkwrapping Your Boat Worth the Cost? A Comprehensive Analysis

Is Shrinkwrapping Your Boat Worth the Cost? A Comprehensive Analysis

Shrink wrapping a boat is a popular method of protecting it from harsh weather conditions during the off-season. However, it comes with a cost that begs the question, is it worth it? The answer to this question is not a straightforward one as it depends on various factors, including the size of the boat, the location, and the materials used.

What is Shrinkwrapping?

Shrink wrapping is a process of covering a boat with a plastic film for protection during the off-season or during transportation. It is a popular method of protecting boats from harsh weather conditions, dust, and debris. The plastic film is heated, which shrinks and forms a tight seal around the boat, protecting it from the elements.

The Process of Shrinkwrapping

The process of shrink wrapping involves several steps. First, the boat is cleaned and prepped for the shrink wrap. Any sharp edges or protrusions are covered with padding to prevent the plastic from tearing. Then, the plastic film is unrolled and cut to the appropriate size. The plastic is then draped over the boat, and the edges are pulled tight and secured to the boat with strapping tape.

Next, a propane-powered heat gun is used to heat the plastic film. The heat causes the plastic to shrink and form a tight seal around the boat. The heat gun is moved over the entire surface of the plastic, ensuring that it is evenly heated and shrinks uniformly. Once the plastic has shrunk to the desired tightness, the excess plastic is trimmed away.

Materials Used for Shrinkwrapping

The materials used for shrink wrapping boats include plastic film, strapping tape, and a propane-powered heat gun. The plastic film used for shrink wrapping boats is typically made of polyethylene, which is a strong, durable material that can withstand harsh weather conditions. The plastic film comes in various thicknesses, ranging from 6 to 12 mils.

Strapping tape is used to secure the edges of the plastic film to the boat. It is a strong, adhesive tape that can withstand the heat of the heat gun. The propane-powered heat gun is used to heat the plastic film and shrink it around the boat.

Benefits of Shrinkwrapping Your Boat

Shrinkwrapping your boat is a popular method of winterizing boats. It involves wrapping a plastic cover around the boat, which is then heated to create a tight, waterproof seal. While some boat owners may be hesitant to invest in shrinkwrapping, there are several benefits to this method of winterization.

Protection from the Elements

One of the primary benefits of shrinkwrapping your boat is that it provides protection from the elements. The plastic cover will keep rain, snow, and other forms of precipitation from getting inside the boat, which can cause damage to the interior. Additionally, shrinkwrapping can also protect the boat from UV rays, which can cause fading and other damage to the boat’s exterior.

Long-Term Storage Benefits

Another benefit of shrinkwrapping your boat is that it can help with long-term storage. If you plan on storing your boat for an extended period of time, shrinkwrapping can help protect it from dust, dirt, and other debris that can accumulate over time. Additionally, shrinkwrapping can also help prevent pests, such as rodents, from getting inside the boat and causing damage.

Cost Savings

While shrinkwrapping your boat does come with a cost, it can also lead to cost savings in the long run. By protecting your boat from the elements and pests, you can avoid costly repairs and maintenance down the line. Additionally, shrinkwrapping can also be more cost-effective than purchasing a permanent cover for your boat, especially if you don’t plan on owning the boat long enough to recoup the cost of a canvas cover.

Potential Drawbacks of Shrinkwrapping

While shrinkwrapping a boat has many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. In this section, we will discuss two of the most significant concerns: environmental impact and potential damage to the boat.

Environmental Concerns

Shrinkwrapping a boat involves using a significant amount of plastic, which can have negative environmental consequences. While shrinkwrap is recyclable, it is not always easy to recycle, and many marinas do not have the facilities to handle it. As a result, it often ends up in landfills or even in the ocean, where it can harm marine life.

Additionally, the propane heat guns used to shrink the wrap release greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the air. While this is not a significant concern for a single boat, it can add up over time, particularly in areas with high boat density.

Potential Damage to the Boat

Shrinkwrapping a boat can also potentially cause damage to the vessel if not done correctly. If the wrap is too tight or not properly ventilated, it can trap moisture inside, leading to mold and mildew growth. Additionally, if the wrap is not properly secured, it can come loose in high winds, potentially causing damage to the boat or nearby property.

Another concern is that the heat used to shrink the wrap can damage certain materials, such as wood or fiberglass. It is essential to ensure that the heat gun is not too close to the boat and that the wrap is not left on for too long.

Factors to Consider Before Shrinkwrapping Your Boat

Before deciding to shrinkwrap your boat, there are several factors that you should consider. These factors include the size and shape of your boat, the climate and weather conditions in your area, the storage location and duration, and your budget.

Boat Size and Shape

The size and shape of your boat are important factors to consider before shrinkwrapping. Larger boats may require more material and labor, resulting in higher costs. Additionally, boats with unique shapes may require custom-fitted shrinkwrap, which can also increase costs.

Climate and Weather Conditions

The climate and weather conditions in your area can also impact the decision to shrinkwrap your boat. If you live in an area with harsh winters or frequent storms, shrinkwrapping can provide additional protection for your boat. However, if you live in a mild climate, the additional cost may not be necessary.

Storage Location and Duration

The storage location and duration are also important factors to consider. If your boat will be stored outdoors for an extended period of time, shrinkwrapping can provide protection from the elements. However, if your boat will be stored indoors or for a short period of time, the additional cost may not be worth it.


Finally, your budget is an important consideration when deciding whether to shrinkwrap your boat. Shrinkwrapping can be a significant expense, especially for larger boats or custom-fitted shrinkwrap. If your budget is limited, you may want to consider alternative storage options.