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Winterization Guide - Boat Covers vs. Shrinkwrap

Winterization Guide - Boat Covers vs. Shrinkwrap
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As summer draws to a close and boaters savor the last days on the water, it’s time to begin planning for how you’re going to winterize your boat. Depending on your area’s climate you may be deeply concerned about hard freezes or you may only be expecting chilly temperatures. In either case, proper winterizing precautions must be taken to ensure your boat is protected from damage while not in use.

How to Winterize Your Boat

No matter what kind of climate you live in, winterization is an important step in maintaining your boat. Although boaters in warmer climates may only need to worry about the basics and boaters in cooler climates may need more intensive processes, proper winterization is the best protection you can give your boat against freezing temperatures.

In its simplest form, winterization involves draining any water and replacing it with the appropriate antifreeze. Since freshwater expands in volume when it freezes any residual water can expand and cause engine blocks to crack, hoses to split, fiberglass to crack, and more. Winterizing your boat helps to prevent and protect against these damages which are costly and time-consuming to fix.

If you’re unsure of where to begin, our winterization checklist below can help:

Engine & Drivetrain:

  • Drain and replace the engine’s oil
  • Protect internal engine components with fogging oil
  • Flush any cooling water remaining in the engine and replace with engine antifreeze
  • Spray corrosion inhibitor on the engine’s exterior
  • Remove prop, grease, and store indoors

Fuel System:

  • Top off fuel tank to reduce condensation and add fuel stabilizer
  • Change fuel filters and fuel/water separators

Potable Water & Plumbing Systems:

  • Drain potable water tanks, water lines, and sanitation systems
  • Inspect hoses for softening, crashing, pinholes, leaks, etc. Replace if necessary before filling lines
  • Add antifreeze to plumbing systems
  • Grease and lubricate all fittings and moving parts


  • Remove and charge the battery; store in a warm, dry place until next boating season
  • Deep clean your boat’s interior
  • Clean and wax your boat’s exterior
  • Remove valuables and sensitive materials (cushions, life vests, etc.) from the boat’s interior
  • Clean interior and apply a mold/mildew inhibitor along with utilizing a product (like DampRid) to reduce moisture
  • Cover and store your boat

Please note, this is a general checklist that works well for most boats. This may not be an exhaustive list. For the most accurate information we recommend consulting your Owner’s Manual and any other manufacturer-supplied recommendations about winterization and storage.

Protecting Your Boat - Shrinkwrap vs. Boat Cover

The final step to winterizing your boat is preparing it for long-term storage with a protective covering. There are a variety of options available with the two most popular being shrinkwrap and boat covers. Before you make your choice though, it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Shrink wrapping a boat for winter storage is often thought of as the more cost-effective option, however since it must be redone every year before storage the annual costs can add up quickly. It’s also important to note that unless you have the proper material and equipment, you’ll need to hire a professional.

The most significant disadvantage to choosing to shrink wrap your boat is the lack of breathability. If any moisture is present in the boat’s interior at the time of wrapping it will be trapped inside the wrap. Vents may be installed as a preventative measure, but mold and mildew growth is still a serious concern.


  • Lower cost per purchase (price depends on the length and type of boat you have)
  • Completely waterproof when applied properly
  • Can achieve a custom fit to any boat


  • Single use - will have to be redone every season and require annual payment
  • Non-breathable - if moisture is present it will be trapped inside the wrap causing mold and mildew (however, vents may be installed as preventative measure to improve breathability)
  • Professional service or expensive materials/equipment required
  • Once your boat is wrapped you have limited access to the interior until the wrap is removed completely

Boat Cover

When compared to shrink wrap, the biggest advantage of choosing a boat cover is that it is reusable. This does mean you’ll have a higher initial investment, but that’s exactly what buying a boat cover is - an investment. Not only are boat covers great for winterization, but you’ll be able to use the cover season after season to protect against all marine elements including sun damage from UV rays.

Another significant advantage of choosing a boat cover is the balance of breathability and water resistance. Unlike shrink wrap, boat covers (especially those made with premium fabrics) allow moisture to escape through the cover and through sewn-in ventilation.


  • Reusable - you can use it season after season
  • Lower cost in the long run (one-time investment)
  • Can extend the life of your boat when used properly
  • Protects against more than just moisture (UV rays, sun damage, etc.)
  • Breathable fabric allows moisture to escape through the cover
  • Can be quickly and easily installed by yourself - no professionals needed
  • Achieve a custom fit with Westland’s line of Exact Fit™ covers


  • High initial investment
  • Need to be mindful of water, ice, and snow pooling which can damage a cover

At Westland, our goal is to protect your boat when it needs it the most and increase your boat’s longevity. For that reason, we firmly believe that boat covers are the best option for winterizing your boat.

Not sure which cover is right for you? Contact us today to learn more about Westland’s line of covers and premium fabrics. Whatever your cover needs, We’ve Gotcha Covered!™

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