As the hot boating months taper off and the cold season rolls in around the corner, storage becomes one of the biggest challenges of any pontoon boat owner. No doubt, figuring out how to keep your pontoon boat safe from damage, mold, mildew, and pests during this delicate time might be one of the most tedious parts of boat ownership. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any solutions.
While you could always just toss a tarp over your boat and check in on it every once in a while, there are better ways to keep your watercraft protected from the elements and beyond - like shrink wrapping. Find out how to shrink wrap a pontoon boat and exactly what you’ll need for the process with this simple guide.
What You’ll Need
To kick things off, you’re going to want to pay a visit to your local hardware store. Shrink wrapping might require quite a few extras compared to the traditional ways of boat storage, so there are a few items that you might not have at the ready, including:
Shrink Wrap Film
There are lots of options on the market, and some are even intended specifically for pontoon boats like those from Dr Shrink. Consider the size of your boat including the side panels, since you want your wrap to drape over the sides just above the tubes.
We recommend Dr Shrink Film.
This is the stuff that wraps around the shrink film to keep it in place during installation. These straps need to be heavy duty especially if you’re expecting harsh conditions where you’re planning to keep your boat.
We also like the Heavy Duty Woven Strapping by Dr Shrink.
Not just any tape will do. Specialized preservation tape can go on holes to patch up any rips and tears in the material. But it also works well to reinforce seams and prevent tearing while the boat is in storage.
Check out these Dr Shrink Preservation Tape.
We like the Tensioning Tool by Dr Shrink.
It doesn’t matter how well you wrap up your boat if you leave it without circulating air. Air vents installed into the shrink wrap can allow air to pass through the material and prevent mold and mildew that come from moisture build up.
Another product by Dr Shrink - check out the Self Adhesive Weather Tight Vent.
Of course, you’re not going to get anywhere shrink wrapping your boat without a heat gun. There are loads of options on the market, but the best heat gun for shrink wrapping boats should have a long enough power cord to let you move freely as you work.
We highly recommend the SEEKONE Heat Gun with 2-Temp Settings.
We like the G&F Premium Suede Leather Work Gloves.
Step by Step Guide
Once you’ve got all the essentials at the ready, you can get started on the process. It’s essentially like any other shrink wrapping job you’ve done, save for the part where you’re working on a boat.
1. Prepare the Storage Space
Before anything else, it’s important to make sure your storage space is in order. Clear out your garage or shed to make room for the boat and trailer. It would also help to clean up clutter that could invite pests like rodents seeking shelter.
2. Clean Up Your Boat
The next step would be to clean out your boat. Get rid of items that don’t necessarily need to be there, and try to strip it down to as bare as it can possibly be. Then give it a general cleaning to get rid of any food, fish, and other funky stains and residue that could attract bacteria and contaminants.
3. Drape the Wrap
You might need a ladder for this one. Find the sheet’s midline and drape it over the center of your pontoon boat lengthwise. Then unfurl the edges of the shrink wrap so that it drapes over the sides of the boat. Straighten it out to make sure that the boat is covered evenly across all planes.
You can cut any excess wrap, ensuring you have at least six inches of extra material hanging below the deck, over the pontoons.
4. Apply and Tightening the Strapping
Now that your wrap is in place, you can start securing it with your straps. A single strap around the perimeter of the boat just above the tubes should prevent the wrap from moving out of place. But you could also apply several other ‘belly bands’ across the underside of the boat to prevent it from pulling around on either side of the pontoon.
5. Start Shrinking
Take your heat gun and heat up the edges of the material first, folding it in on itself to create an even edge right above the tubes. When that’s done, you can go ahead and shrink the rest of the material. Work in sections and aim the gun from the top of the boat down to the bottom to create a smoother wrap.
6. Apply Preservation Tape
When everything is nice and shrunk, you can go ahead and apply preservation tape. Pay close attention to any seams or areas that you think are particularly stretched and prone to tearing. The tape should improve the material’s resilience and keep the wrap intact throughout the cold winter months.
7. Install Air Vents
The finishing touch of course would be the air vents. Experts recommend installing at least four vents - two at the stern and two at the bow. Simply secure the air vent base, cut a hole through the material in the center of the vent, and then clip on the air vent cover.
Tips for Shrink Wrapping a Pontoon Boat
All Wrapped Up
Not everyone knows how to shrink wrap a pontoon boat, but it’s often been praised as one of the best ways to keep your boat safe for storage. So if you were hoping to step up your storage game this winter and keep those pests at bay, then you might want to consider shrink wrapping your watercraft for top tier protection.