Is Boat Shrink Wrapping Better Than Tarping a Boat?

The choice between shrink wrapping and tarping a boat is a crucial decision that boat owners face when preparing for storage or transportation. Each method comes with its own set of advantages and considerations, catering to different needs and circumstances. Let’s delve into the comparison to determine which method might suit your boat best.

Shrink Wrapping: Protection with Precision

Shrink wrapping involves enveloping the boat in a specially designed plastic film that is then heated and shrunk tightly around the vessel. This creates a snug, custom-fit cover that encases the entire boat, offering comprehensive protection against the elements.

Advantages of Shrink Wrapping:

  1. Tight Seal: Shrink wrapping provides a precise fit, reducing the chances of moisture or debris penetration. It forms a sealed barrier that shields the boat effectively.
  2. Durability: The shrink wrap material is sturdy and can withstand various weather conditions, offering excellent resistance to wind, rain, snow, and UV rays.
  3. Professional Appearance: Shrink wrapping creates a sleek, tailored look, ideal for boats in long-term storage or during transportation.
  4. Customizable: It allows for custom vents or access points, permitting air circulation while preventing moisture buildup, which is crucial for preventing mold or mildew.

Considerations with Shrink Wrapping:

  1. Installation Cost: Professional shrink wrapping may involve a higher initial cost compared to tarping due to specialized equipment and labor.
  2. Environmental Impact: Disposal of shrink wrap can be a concern, as it is not easily recyclable and may contribute to waste.

Tarping a Boat: Flexibility and Affordability

Using a tarp to cover a boat involves draping a large, waterproof fabric over the vessel and securing it in place with ropes or bungee cords. It’s a more flexible and cost-effective approach compared to shrink wrapping.

Advantages of Tarping:

  1. Cost-Effective: Tarps are generally more budget-friendly than shrink wrap, making them an attractive option for boat owners looking to save on storage or transportation costs.
  2. Ease of Use: Tarping a boat is a relatively simple process and can be done without specialized equipment or professional assistance.
  3. Reusable: Tarps are reusable and can be stored easily for future use, providing a practical and sustainable covering solution.
  4. Adaptability: They come in various sizes and can cover boats of different shapes and sizes, offering versatility in boat protection.

Considerations with Tarping:

  1. Loose Fit: Tarps may not provide as snug a fit as shrink wrapping, potentially allowing for wind flapping, debris entry, or water pooling, which can lead to damage or mold growth.
  2. Maintenance: Due to potential movement or sagging, regular inspections and adjustments are necessary to ensure the tarp remains secure and effective.
  3. No Seal: Let’s face it, tarps are usually not waterproof. Their woven structure allow water to seep thru, especially where tarp is sagging and creates a puddle.


In the debate between shrink wrapping and tarping a boat, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The choice depends on various factors such as budget, storage duration, weather conditions, and personal preferences. Here in new England weather may vary greatly. Maine can have longer winter, maybe by a month and Rhode Island’s winter may be shorter. It is also depends on when your last voyage is, some people keep their boat afloat all the way till late November.

Shrink wrapping offers unparalleled precision and protection, making it ideal for long-term storage or transportation, albeit at a higher cost. On the other hand, tarping provides flexibility and affordability, suitable for shorter-term storage or as a more budget-friendly option. Tarping is also more environmentally friendly as you can reuse your tarp over and over again.

However, if your boat is very expensive you should use professional boat shrink wrapping company to preserve your investment.

Understanding the specific needs of your boat and the conditions it will face during storage or transit will guide you in making the right choice between these two protective methods. Whether it’s the precision of shrink wrapping or the flexibility of tarping, ensuring your boat stays safe and well-protected is paramount.