When winter approaches, the biggest worry for most pontoon boat owners is how to keep their boats safe throughout the cold season.
Shrink wrapping is an effective method when it comes to storing pontoon boats safely during the cold months. It offers the best water protection as it shrinks tight to the boat.
However, the shrink wrap has to be properly installed to get the most out of the winter storage method.
Many boaters choose to have a professional do it for them, but this is usually a bit expensive, making the overall cost of this strategy to be way high.
The good news is that this article will help you learn how to shrink wrap a pontoon boat to do it yourself and reduce the installation cost.
To shrink wrap a pontoon boat, you’ll need the following installation accessories:
- Ring cutter to cut strapping
- Strap tensioning tool
- Plastic caps
- Super caps
- Belly band
- Staple gun
- Adhesive spray
- A roll of shrink wrap
- Heat tool
- Protective gloves
Once you have your shrink wrap kit and the required equipment ready, follow these steps to wrap your boat:
Step 1: Prepare the Pontoon Boat for Storage
When shrink wrapping your pontoon boat, the first thing you need to do is remove all the loose equipment from flotation devices to fishing gear.
Then clean your boat thoroughly as leaving any debris or food crumbs in your pontoon will attract pest infestations.
Once the boat is clean, drain any water lines onboard, including drinking water lines and toilets. Leaving water in the pipes will damage plumbing as it will expand when it freezes.
Winterizing your fuel tank and the battery is also necessary to ensure that they are in good working order when spring comes.
Another important thing you need to do when preparing your pontoon boat for winter storage is to deploy the Bimini and lay it flat.
Step 2: Establish a Support System
With the Bimini top laid flat, measure the tallest point of the boat. This is usually the console windshield’s top or the laid Bimini.
Then add about 12 to 18 inches to the top end’s height to determine how tall the support poles should be.
Once you have the height, build the support poles with a plastic top and a bottom cap.
When building the vertical supports, you need to make a post for every 8 feet of your pontoon boat’s length.
Cut the support posts to the appropriate length and secure the top and the bottom before setting up the strapping structure with the boat’s railings as your anchor points.
Now that you have established a stable structure for covering your boat, strain the strapping as tight as you can before stapling it into the plastic tops of the posts.
When the strapping is tight enough, tie from the boat’s rear and front until you achieve a tent design. Use the buckle to secure the rear and front strapping and tape it with the shrink wrap tape.
If your boat’s stern has cleats, you can use them to tighten the strapping even better by creating a V-pattern. With a sturdy support frame, the boat is now ready for wrapping.
Step 3: Install the Shrink Wrap
Enfold the shrink wrap film onto the boat, draping it over the support posts and strapping backward from the stern.
With your boat broadly covered, cut shrink wrap that suspends down over the boat’s trailer using a disposable film knife.
Strap the belly band around the boat’s perimeter right beneath the deck exactly where the two tubes are mounted to the deck.
Mount the buckle and grab the strap tensioning tool to attach the two band’s ends, tightening it enough.
Heat the shrink wrap with a heat gun over the boat, and be sure to secure the bottom area with bands running underneath the deck. But before you heat, make sure that the wrap is well-folded over the perimeter band.
Use the bottom-up method when heating the shrink wrap in sections to achieve a tight seal safely.
You’ll want to be careful with the fire as the shrink wrap can burn when the heat is applied incorrectly, causing open flame.
Moreover, the flames can fall on other combustible material in your boat and ignite a hazardous fire.
One more handy hint, use a ladder when heating areas that are quite a bit high for you to see from the ground.
Step 4: Add Self-Adhesive Vents
The Dr Shrink wrap kit includes these vents, so you don’t have to worry about incurring extra costs.
Add vents to the wrap on the boat to prevent moisture from building up. The Dr Shrink wrap kit recommends using about four vents.
If you need to access your boat’s interior during the cold months, you can add a zipper point.
Benefits of Shrink Wrapping
If you are wondering whether shrink wrapping is a perfect way to store your boat during the winter, here are some of its benefits:
Provides Unparalleled Protection
There is no better way to protect your pontoon boat against harsh weather elements during the winter. Shrink wrapping offers the best waterproof protection.
Shrink wrap is naturally waterproof, and it doesn’t need any treatment to block water out of your pontoon boat.
And the good thing about it is that it shrinks to the boat tightly and won’t leak when installed correctly.
You may not enjoy this convenience when working with other storage methods like tarts and canvas covers.
Blocks Precipitation Build-Up
With good installation, shrink wrapping prevents precipitation build-up. You can set it at a high angle to prevent snow, ice, and water from accumulating over time.
The wrap is also quite slippery, a great quality that blocks ice and snow from building up.
Makes It Possible to Cover the Whole Boat
In most installations, the shrink wrap cover the entire boat, ensuring that every part is secure from inclement weather.
This ensures that no moisture gets into your boat, which could ruin the crucial parts of the pontoon.
When installed well, shrink wrap covers are very stable in protecting every part of the boat. You won’t have to worry about the bad weather ruining your pontoon.
Less Upfront Cost
If you just bought your pontoon boat and want a safe but affordable way to store your pontoon for the winter, shrink wrap will be cheaper than a permanent boat cover.
While this storage strategy may be expensive over time, it’s a great way to start if you don’t have enough cash to buy a canvas cover right away.
Besides, shrink wrapping will save you some bucks if you don’t plan to own the pontoon boat for many years. It makes sense to cut the cost of a canvas by investing in shrink wrapping.
Q: What is the Cost of Shrink Wrapping a Pontoon Boat?
A: A shrink wrap roll can range anywhere from $100 to $300. Then add the shipping fee and the cost of other installation accessories that are not included in the kit, such as a hand saw, ladder and the propane-fired heat tool.
You’ll also need to pay an installation fee if you are not shrink wrapping the boat yourself.
If you want to reduce the cost, I suggest that you try the Dr shrink wrap kit, as many users have given positive feedback after using this kit on their pontoon boat.
The Dr shrink wrap kit is DIY-friendly and comes with everything you need to shrink wrap your boat and secure it for the winter, from end caps to shrink wrap tape.
But it doesn’t fit wakeboard towers or pontoon boats wider than 8-inches.
Q: Can I Shrink Wrap My Pontoon Boat Myself?
A: Yes, of course, you can shrink wrap your pontoon boat yourself. You just need to gather the required equipment and follow the guidelines explained above.
When heating the shrink wrap, you should be extra careful with the heat tool as it could cause a fire. If you spot fire on the shrink wrap, carefully inspect the area you are heating for a possible fire.
You may also want to have a fire extinguisher nearby when heating the shrink wrap to put off any secondary ignition.
Shrink wrapping is a great way to keep pontoon boats safe during the winter. It ensures that the boat has complete protection against winter inclement weather damage.
You won’t have to worry about mildew problems as the wrap eliminates moisture to keep the boat dry throughout the winter.
The installation process doesn’t have to be complicated, and you can actually do it yourself instead of paying someone to wrap your pontoon.
All you have to do is buy a reliable shrink wrap kit and use the guidelines provided in this article. You’ll also want to follow the instructions provided in the package carefully to ensure that you wrap the boat properly.