All good things must come to an end, including boating season. No matter the climate, boats should be winterized to protect them through the cold season. As a boat owner, you may be wondering: how much does it cost to winterize a boat?

Before spending hundreds of dollars, many boat owners wonder if the benefits of winterization are worth the expense. Boat owners have several choices when it comes to boat winterization. Make an informed decision that is best for your boat and your budget by weighing the cost to winterize a boat against the benefits.

Reasons to Winterize Your Boat

There are many compelling reasons to winterize your boat, even if you are lucky enough to live somewhere that allows you to take the boat out year-round. (We’re looking at you Floridians and South Texans!) At an absolute minimum your boat is going to need to be covered to protect it during times of low or no use.

Why should I cover my boat in the off season?

  • Keep unwanted animals out of your boat.
  • Protect your boat from birds and plant debris.
  • Eliminate damage from rain, snow, wind, and other weather conditions.
  • Keep your paint and gel coat shiny and new long term.

Migrating birds, nesting animals, wintry sleet, snow, or rain and wind can cause significant damage to your boat. Do not leave your boat vulnerable to off-season assaults by leaving it open to the elements. Save yourself the expense of repairing upholstery or repainting your boat with an investment up front. The average cost to winterize a boat is less than the expense and headache involved in making repairs to winter-related damage.

Options to Winterize Your Boat (types of covers, colors of covers

To securely store your boat for winter you need to cover it. Boat owners can use a canvas or plastic cover that are either standard sized or custom fit to your boat. What kind of cover should you choose? That depends on a few factors, including cost and durability.

Canvas Boat Covers

Canvas boat covers are a popular choice among boat owners. In fact, many boaters cover their boat with canvas every time they take it out of the water. Canvas covers help keep your interior clean, making it easier to jump in and head out on the water.

Canvas covers in standard sizes are available that can be thrown over the top of your boat and strapped down. These are less expensive than their custom counterparts. Custom canvas covers will fit your boat more precisely. A more snug fit means better protection. Canvas covers are a great choice during the boating season, however, they are not the best choice for winterization.

  • Even custom-fit canvas covers are susceptible to high winds. A strong wind can easily blow under the cover and rip it right off your boat.
  • In the off season, your boat will be pelted by rain, sleet, and/or snow. Canvas covers do provide some water resistance but only when you coat them with waterproofing sealant every couple of years.
  • Custom canvas covers are more expensive than plastic alternatives. 

For these reasons, canvas covers are not the best choice for winterization, especially when considering the costs to winterize a boat.

Plastic Boat Covers

If boat winterization cost is your most important consideration, a plastic cover may be the best option for you. Plastic covers come in a wide variety of styles, costs, and quality and are typically the most affordable option. Not all plastics are created equal, though. If you plan to use a plastic boat cover to winterize your boat, be sure to find one that is rated for marine use. You want the plastic to be a waterproof barrier and provide ultraviolet ray protection. These are the features needed to provide minimal protection during the winter. Unfortunately, even the best plastic boat covers on the market fail in harsh conditions. Experienced boaters know that the best way to protect your boat is to shrink wrap it.

Boat Shrink Wrap

The best way to ensure that your boat is 100% protected in the off season is to securely wrap it in boat shrink wrap. Marine boat shrink wrap conforms precisely to your boat. It wraps tightly around every curve and surface of any kind of boat. Shrink wrapping ensures there are no loose areas or gaps that rodents can use to get inside your boat and cause damage. Marine wrapping your boat also protects your canvas cover from bird droppings, plant debris, and damage due to exposure to the elements.

Boat shrink wrap is completely resistant to moisture so your boat stays dry through rain, sleet, or snow. The material eliminates pooling of water and sheds snow to reduce the risk of collapse. Boat shrink wrap’s custom fit means that it remains securely attached in high winds and won’t rub, chafing your paint or gel coat. How much does it cost to shrink wrap a boat? That depends on where you buy the materials and whether you do the job yourself or not.

Hire a Professional or DIY

How much does it cost to shrink wrap a boat? There are plenty of companies and marinas that will winterize your boat for you using shrink wrap. Winterizing boat costs depend on the size of your craft and where your boat is located. A quick search online of “boat weatherization near me” will reveal a number of providers with a variety of associated costs. You can expect to spend $300-$500 each winter to have your boat winterized by a professional.

If you are more a DIY type, you can learn how to shrink wrap your own boat. How much it costs to winterize will be greatly reduced over time with an upfront investment in equipment and an ongoing investment of your time. Once you know what you’re doing, the process is fairly straightforward and simple. If you have never wrapped your boat and don’t know what to do, don’t worry! Pro-Tect Plastics has you covered. We have all of the equipment, materials, and tutorials you need to do the job right.

When the sun sets on your last fall boat ride, you have choices as to how you will keep your boat safe and secure all winter long. Take a close look at your climate, your craft, and the long term costs to make the best decision for your budget and your boat.