How to Shrink Wrap Boats


If you live in a cold climate where you need to store your boat away for the winter, shrink wrap is a great option for protecting the interior from the elements. When applied correctly, shrink wrap provides a watertight seal that keeps your boat from rotting, your upholstery from cracking and protects your valuable equipment. Shrink-wrap your boat when you have finished all your other winterization preparations.

Things You'll Need

  • Shrink wrap
  • 2-by-4 wood post, 3 feet in length
  • Utility knife
  • Rope (heavy-duty twine, hemp, nylon, or dock lines)
  • 2-by-4 wood post, 1 1/2 feet in length
  • Staple gun and staples
  • 3 slip buckles (optional)
  • Tape
  • Heat gun

How to Shrink Wrap a Boat

  • Measure your boat to get the proper width of shrink wrap. Measure your boat from the center of the widest part. Make sure the edges of your measured area are 6 inches past the rub rail on the side of the boat to where the band is hanging. Multiply that by 2 for the total width necessary. Buy the smallest width of shrink wrap that will cover your boat to the point you measured.

  • Stand the 3-foot 2-by-4 upright at the center of the helm (cockpit). Measure and cut a piece of the rope material to reach from side to side of the boat over the top of the 2-by-4. Staple the middle of the piece of rope to the top of the 2-by-4 and tie each loose end of the rope material to the bow rails.

  • Place the 1 1/2-foot 2-by-4 upright at the back of the boat about 1 foot before the transom (back wall of the boat). Cut a piece of rope material long enough to reach from side to side over the top of the 2-by-4. Secure the ends on the sides of the boat and staple to the top of the 2-by-4.

  • Cut a second piece of rope material that is long enough to tie around the bow (nose) of the boat, stretch down the center of the boat, over the 2-by-4 and tie off at the transom. This will make a frame that the shrink wrap can straddle over the open deck of your boat, allowing snow and water to slide off without pooling in the middle.

  • Add extra strength, especially if you live in a climate with heavy snowfall, by adding a slip buckle on each cross rope to cinch the rope more tightly across the boat. Place a piece of heavy tape around each buckle you apply to prevent them from becoming hot during the heating process and burning through the shrink wrap.

  • Hang rope material in several spots along the hull. Have a loop at the end of each section. Each loop should hang approximately 6 inches below the rub rail. Cut a length of rope long enough to completely go around the boat and run through the loops. At the rear of the boat, run the band under the out drive to give it stability. Tie or use a slip buckle at the end to secure.

  • Place a piece of tape over the fuel vent. Place a piece of tape below where the shrink wrap will end to mark where the fuel vent is, in order to uncover it after the shrink wrap is applied.

  • Unroll the shrink wrap and place it lengthwise over your boat. Unfold the wrap from the center until it hangs over both sides of the boat. Cut the material just below the side band and tuck the edges up under the band.

  • Apply heat with a heat gun starting with the circumference where the rope band and folded shrink wrap are located. Continue up over the top of the boat to thoroughly shrink the wrap down over the boat.

  • Cut a small hole where the fuel vent is, remove the tape and you are finished.

Tips & Warnings

  • Shrink wrap can be purchased at online standard shrink wrap dealers such as or marine shrink wrap dealers such as Many also carry a full range of necessary supplies like heat guns, framing rope and slip buckles.
  • Shrink wrap is flammable and may ignite if not heated correctly. Always have a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Shrink wrap can burn skin while it is heated.
  • Inspect finished shrink wrap covering for as much as 30 minutes following the completion of a project to detect hot spots or smoldering that could ignite.
  • Do not attempt to shrink the covering if winds over 10 mph are present. Blowing material may strike handlers, break off and land on combustible materials starting a fire, or land inside the boat damaging upholstery or other finish.

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