How to Shrink Wrap a Pontoon Boat
One of the most effective ways to protect a pontoon boat throughout the winter is to shrink-wrap it. Shrinkwrapping is necessary for protection against snow and inclement weather. It also helps to keep prying eyes away.
But how do you shrink-wrap a boat? Is it worth it? Read on to find out!
In this guide, I’ll show you an easy and effective way to shrink-wrap pontoon boats, so you don’t have to pay someone to do the work.
What Does Shrink Wrapping Mean?
Shrink wrapping involves using plastic wrap to cover objects like pontoon boats and protect them from outdoor elements such as snow, wind, dirt, and rain. The process requires a shrink-wrapping machine and heat to melt and tighten the plastic cover on the boat. The plastic cover is usually made of PVC, polypropylene, or polyethylene.
Besides protecting boats for winter storage, shrink wrapping is also applicable when covering electronic equipment, outdoor equipment, furniture, and more.
Depending on the type of protection you are looking for, you can use a thin or thick wrap, as they are available in different sizes and thicknesses.
If you live in an area that receives much snow, a thick wrap will be necessary, usually blue, to protect your boat.
A white wrap will suffice for pontoon boat owners looking to protect their boats from light snow, dirt, and rain.
How to Shrink Wrap Pontoon Boats
Gather these materials and equipment to wrap your boat:
- Shrink wrap roll
- Shrink wrapping machine
- Ring cutter
- Strap tightening tool
- Staple gun
- Plastic caps
- Heat gun
- Protective gloves
- Belly band
Once you get your shrink-wrapping kit together, here are the instructions:
Step 1: Get Your Boat Ready for Winter Storage
It’s important to prepare your boat for winter storage by removing the portable seats and loose equipment like life jackets and electronics. Then give it a good clean, removing all the debris, grease, and dirt to avoid pest infestation while in storage.
If your boat has a toilet or any water line, drain all the water, as leaving it there would damage the boat’s plumbing. Remember that the water will freeze and expand during the cold months.
Once you drain all the water lines, winterize the battery and fuel tank so they remain in great working conditions until the next boating season.
Lastly, set down your Bimini top and lay it even on the boat to make the wrapping work easier.
Step 2: Build a Wrap Support System
Next, you need to build a good support system for the wrap. In this case, the Bimini cover (when laid) should guide you in deciding the right height for the support system.
You can measure the height of the tallest point and then add about 15 inches. This should give you the correct size of the poles you intend to use for the frame.
After obtaining the height, cut the poles to the right length and add plastic tops and bottom caps to let them sit on the boat well.
The best way to build a solid frame is to ensure that you set a pole for every eight feet of the boat’s length.
For a 24 feet or 22 feet pontoon boat, you should use at least two poles. Boats longer than this will require three or more poles.
Use the boat railings as your tying points to strap the structure and create a frame. Make sure the strapping is as snug as possible for a robust support system.
Once you tighten the strapping, you can secure it on the boat’s front and rear sides to achieve a solid tent design.
Secure the front and rear strapping before adding the tape.
Cleats on the boat’s stern also come in handy when it comes to tightening the strap. If your boat has them, you can use these to create a V-like pattern that will provide a sturdy frame for the wrap.
Step 3: Put the Wrap Roll on the Boat
When you finish building a sturdy support system, it’s time to wrap the boat. Simply unfold the wrap over the created frame.
You can start by laying it on the poles and strapping it from the stern to the bow, ensuring you cover the entire boat broadly.
Then cut the excess wrap hanging on the trailer and run the band around the boat. Ensure that the band lies under the deck, where the pontoons attach to the boat.
Tighten the belly band to join the two ends and secure them with a buckle. The wrap is now ready for heating. It will remain in place even when the other parts shrink.
Step 4: Heat the Wrap
Heat the entire wrap and shrink it to cover the boat tightly using a heat gun. When heating the wrap, you should use stable and even strokes. Don’t use a propane torch, as it can quickly burn the wrap.
You should heat the wrap from the bottom to the top for a tight wrapping fit. If there are any areas that you cannot safely heat or see well from the floor, you can use a ladder.
After heating the entire wrap, so it seems tight enough to last throughout the winter months, leave it to cool and inspect it after about 30 minutes. If you see any open spots, apply more heat to the specific parts for better sealing.
Step 5: Add Vents
Put about four vents on the heated wrap to keep the boat aerated and prevent moisture accumulation in the boat. Otherwise, the interior will be moldy before spring comes.
The good thing with most shrink-wrapping kits is that they come with vents, so there are no additional costs.
A bonus tip, you can create a zipper opening if you need to access the boat’s interior during the cold season.
It’s essential to keep in mind that the wrap can burn quickly if you apply it incorrectly. It can drop on other flammable or combustible material when it burns, causing ignition and a risky fire.
So, if you see any part of the wrap burning, you should stop whatever you are doing and try to put it off immediately. Then scrutinize the area before proceeding with the wrapping process for any possible fire trigger.
Is Shrink Wrapping a Boat for Storage Worth It?
Yes, shrink-wrapping a boat for winter storage is worth it. It provides a tight fit that doesn’t loosen or accumulate snow during the cold months.
Some owners prefer to cover their boats with a winter cover, but this isn’t usually the best for highly snowy areas.
Unlike shrink wrappings, winter covers can quickly loosen and get ripped off by the wind, exposing your boat to the snow.
Furthermore, shrink wrapping is usually more affordable than buying a canvas cover to protect a boat. It’s the best option for boat owners looking for an affordable and reliable solution.
It may be expensive to shrink your boat over time, but at least you won’t have to keep checking your boat as the wrap stays tight for a long time.
Q: Can I Shrink Wrap My Boat Myself?
A: Yes, you can shrink-wrap a boat yourself. Professional shrink wrapping can be expensive, so you may want to learn how to do it yourself.
To wrap your boat yourself, you need to purchase a kit with all the materials you need for the process.
Then build a simple but solid frame with poles and strapping where you’ll lay the wrap for heating and shrinking.
You should use a safe heat gun to shrink the wrap and watch out for any burns that could lead to a potential fire. You don’t want to damage the wrap or the deck carpet.
Q: What Does it Cost to Wrap a Pontoon Boat?
A: It costs around $500 to $1500 to shrink-wrap a boat professionally. The total cost will depend on the size of your boat since the average rate usually ranges between $12 and $25 per square foot.
However, you can reduce the cost by wrapping the boat yourself. You’ll only need to invest in a shrink-wrapping kit and spare some time to cover your boat for winter storage.
Q: How Long Will Shrink Wrap Last?
A: A shrink-wrapping material for boats can last up to two years. This is durable compared to winter covers, which loosen and wear out after a few months when the boat is stored outside.
Shrink-wrapping is an ideal option if you want a lasting solution to keep your boat safe throughout the winter.
This video has been included for its clarification of the topic matter. Credit goes to Dr. Shrink, Inc.
Shrink wrapping your boat may seem like too much work, but trust me, it’s usually worth it. It protects pontoon boats from outdoor elements during the cold months and provides a better fit than winter covers.
Shrink wrapping a pontoon boat is a common practice to protect it during the off-season or when it’s not in use for an extended period. Shrink wrapping involves covering the entire boat with a specialized plastic material and applying heat to shrink it tightly around the boat’s structure. This creates a protective barrier against the elements, such as moisture, dirt, UV rays, and debris.
To shrink wrap a pontoon boat, the process typically begins by properly cleaning and preparing the boat. This includes removing any loose items, cleaning the surfaces, and ensuring the boat is dry. Once the boat is ready, a large sheet of shrink wrap material, usually made of polyethylene or polyolefin, is laid over the boat. The material is then carefully wrapped around the boat, ensuring it covers all areas and is tight enough to prevent flapping or sagging.
After securing the shrink wrap around the boat, heat is applied to shrink the material. This is usually done using a heat gun or a propane-powered heat tunnel. The heat causes the shrink wrap to contract and conform to the boat’s shape, creating a snug and protective covering. The shrinking process eliminates any wrinkles or air pockets, ensuring a tight fit.
To further secure the shrink wrap, additional materials like strapping or zip ties may be used to fasten it to the boat’s structure or support system. Vents or breathing patches are also installed to allow air circulation and prevent moisture buildup.
Shrink wrapping a pontoon boat provides several benefits. It helps protect the boat from moisture-related damage, such as mold, mildew, and corrosion. It also prevents debris and pests from entering the boat, keeping the interior clean and undamaged. Additionally, shrink wrap helps preserve the boat’s appearance by shielding it from UV rays and reducing fading or discoloration.
When the boating season resumes, the shrink wrap can be removed by carefully cutting it away, allowing the boat to be uncovered and prepared for use. It’s important to note that shrink wrapping should be done by experienced professionals or individuals familiar with the process to ensure it is done correctly and safely.
Overall, shrink wrapping a pontoon boat provides an effective and convenient way to protect it during storage or prolonged periods of inactivity, safeguarding its condition and extending its lifespan.
If you find that paying a professional to wrap your boat is expensive, you can still wrap it yourself. You just need to invest in the right kit and get a quality heat gun.
Hopefully, this guide will help you shrink-wrap your boat effectively. It may take time and even involve mistakes, but in the end, you’ll be happy with the results. Your boat will love it too. Good luck!