Every boat should be covered when not being used for extended periods of time.
One of those extended periods of time a boat is not being used is during the winter.
While some boats come with covers, have covers made, or buy universal fitting covers, there are also a thing called shrink-wrapped covers. A shrink-wrapped cover is seen more as a one-time use item, but if you do it right, you could use it more than once.
Reusing Boat Shrink Wrap – Do This
The shrink-wrap that goes on many boats can be reused for a few years if you set it up correctly and remove it correctly.
When you get the boat shrink-wrapped, be sure to tell the installer you would like to reuse the cover for multiple years, so they can adjust. You may get charged more for the extra care that needs to be done, but still cheaper than getting a new cover every year.
You will also need to be careful when removing the cover, here are a few tips for removing the cover.
- Mark the front and rear with a black sharpie.
- Write down the direction you removed the cover. Write on the cover, use red sharpie as it fades quickly if you don’t want it to be on there forever.
- Don’t cut into any middle parts of the shrink-wrap if you can. If rope is used to pull the cover tight, remove the knots and start there. If glue and tape is used, then find a spot where it starts and pull it apart.
- Buy extra shrink-wrap tape, as you’ll need to fix cuts and damage for next year.
Here is a great video showing tips about reusing your boat shrink-wrap:
Shrink Wrap Lifespan
You can get many years out of your shrink-wrapped boat. Anywhere from 1 to 5 years is not uncommon, but you do get to a point where going anymore is just silly.
The shrink-wrap does expand, break and wear out and is not meant to be used for too many years.
Shrink-wrap is made to last ONE year, but if done properly you can get several years out of it. It’s not meant to be a replacement for your everyday mooring cover or even trailering cover, just a cover you use for long-term storage in one spot.
Reheating Shrink Wrap
Once the shrink wrap is put on the first time, applying heat next year is not always needed.
The cover will expand, a little, but adding more heat may not re-shrink as tight as it once was. The little extra clearance is fine and will help you to reuse the cover again.
Basically, the shrink-wrap can only be heated so much and adding more heat will not help and runs the risk of damaging your boat instead.
Why Shrink-Wrap A Boat?
If you already have a boat cover, then why do you need to shrink-wrap your boat?
The reason you shrink-wrap a boat is to protect it from the effects of long-term storage. While any cover can protect your boat from rain and sun, a shrink-wrapped boat does a better job of snow and extended rainfall where you may not get to the boat.
Even with normal covers, they can pool up water and needs to be cleared. A shrink-wrapped boat is more tight and rainwater is not going to pool, so long as it’s installed correctly. Also, the snow falls and the slickness of the shrink-wrap keeps it from sticking and the weight of the snow won’t bend or break anything on your boat.
Shrink wrap also covers more of the boat, when the new season comes around you spend less time cleaning. Dirt and grime still find their way into a boat that has a regular cover on it, but not so much with a shrink-wrapped boat.
Lastly, a shrink-wrapped boat is less likely to get rodents or even people sneaking in, at least it will be very obvious if they do. Rodents like to eat the cables, foam, and seats, and boats offer a lot of room to have babies. A boat is also a good place for the homeless to hide, as most people leave the boat unattended for months, and it’s a dry place to stay.
Someone cutting into a shrink-wrapped boat is obvious as it quickly looses it tight shape, so you know something is up.
Cost Savings Of Reusing Shrink Wrap
The biggest reason people may reuse the shrink wrap for their boat is cost.
It can cost hundreds of dollars to wrap a boat, if not thousands for bigger boats.
Shrink-wrapping a boat is well worth it, but that cost is hard to get over, especially if you only use it once.
Another reason to reuse the shrink wrap is if the guy who does your shrink wrap can make it in time or is simply too busy. It’s kind of an art, and you may be able to it yourself, these guys do it all time and give the best results. So they tend to get a little backed up as there are not many people willing to do shrink wrapping. A reused shrink wrap cover is better than no cover.
Buying A New Boat?
Not many people know this, but many of the NEW boats you buy come shrink-wrapped from the factory.
For many boat manufacturers, not all, they make a special wrap that is meant to be opened and then put back on. They have clips that make taking them off easy and put back on, just in case the dealer needs to get in the boat for whatever reason.
So if you’re buying a new boat, tell them you want to keep the shrink-wrapped cover. It may be dirty, but they are often the most easy to reuse. So long as the dealership is not monsters when removing covers and tear them to shreds.
Shrink-Wrap And Plastic Wrap Are Not The Same Thing
The things that are used to shrink-wrap a boat is not the same as plastic wrap found in your kitchen.
In fact, you should avoid wrapping anything in your boat with cling-wrap or similar thin and not UV resistant wraps. Doing so can fuse the plastic wrap with plastic and glass of your boat, and it’s near impossible to get back off.
Unless it’s microfiber or soft cloth, you should only have the correct shrink-wrapped materials touching the boat.