Boat Renovation Projects: Is it For You?

Boat Renovation Projects: Is It For You?

Boating is one of the best leisure time activity.

It allows you to escape the life on land and sail around waters. But different people have different preferences when it comes to boating.

Some enjoy small sails while others prefer to cruise over weeks. Based on their boating preference, people buy different types of boats.

But are new boats affordable for everyone? How long do boats stay in the right condition before they need repairs and renovations?

The answers to these questions bring us one of the fundamental activities for keeping boats in the right shape: boat renovation.

Boaters who wish to invest in a particular type of boat, but do not have the finances to buy it often opt for buying an old boat and renovating it. Others who already have a boat of their choice but it is damaged and aged over time also need boat renovation.

While boat renovation may seem like a simple activity, in reality it needs a lot of investment. Not only in terms of money, but also in terms of time and labor hours.

Let’s take a look at different aspects of boat renovation in detail starting from the cost of boat renovation to the types of boats which are best for renovation.

But before you get started, you need to know some the important details beforehand so that you get boat renovation completed within a certain timeframe.

Important Things about Boat Renovation Which You Should Know Beforehand

Important Things About Boat Renovation Which You Should Know Beforehand

Renovating a boat may appear to be an overwhelming task. Especially if you are inexperienced in this field.

Though there are numerous key considerations when it comes to boat renovation but there a few basic things which you should know before you start a boat renovation project. Below, find a description of what you need to know before you get started.

Estimated Time

Time is one of the primary considerations when it comes to boat renovation. There are instances where your estimated time for the completion of boat renovation is 2 weeks, but you may end up spending 6 weeks.

Time is of value because a huge cost is associated with time. So if you are a novice in this field and are planning to renovate a boat, ask a professional.

Without adequate experience, it is important to predict the estimated time for a complete boat renovation. If you know a professional in person, this is great because you will get the most accurate advice from them.

But you can also get help online. There are many online forums with boat renovation experts who can give you the right advice.

Size of the Boat Matters

Size of the boat is something which you should always consider before starting a boat renovation project. Renovating a 60 feet fishing boat will definitely take a lot more resources than renovation of a 20 feet boat.

Also, keep in mind your expertise. If you are a beginner and are renovating a boat for the first time, it is recommended that you start small. Go with something which matches your skills.

But if you are experienced in the field of boat renovation, then renovating a 60 feet fishing boat should not be a matter of concern.

The Appropriate Place for Boat Renovation

Boat renovation at any surface is difficult. Whether you are renovating your boat on land or in the water, there are always concerns. But obviously they vary in nature.

When renovating a boat in water, you will have to take care of a safe and established electric supply, water pollution, availability of fresh water, the threat of damage to your boat from other boats.

But if you are renovating your boat on land, you will have to take care of other factors as possibility of theft, rain, mud, wind and small animals like rabbits, raccoons and rats.

So renovating a boat is tough. Whether you are on land or in water. But you need to choose the appropriate place based on your resources.


Boat renovation is expensive. You will only get an idea of the cost once you include all your costs such as storage and services.

Though labor and material costs are the most direct and obvious costs but there are other costs too. This includes amenities and rent of the place you are using for boat renovation.

Also, there are seasonal variation in costs. During summers, boat renovation can be expensive. The rents are high and so is the labor cost.  So when you are considering boat renovation, you should be aware of the seasonal variation in cost of renovation.

It Is Tough!

By now, you already know that boat renovation is costly and can be overwhelming for many people.

But if you are passionate about it, just remember that there are many more things in life which are far more difficult and time consuming than boat renovation. So once you start a boat renovation project, make sure you don’t give up.

Despite the hardships, you will surely enjoy the process and once it is complete, you will be proud of yourself.

How Much Does It Cost?

How Much Does It Cost?

One of the fundamental concerns when it comes to boat renovation is cost. People often ask how much it will cost to renovate a boat. The answer depends upon many factors.

Whether you are dealing only with the cosmetic concerns of the boat or are you going for a major structural renovation? Are you repairing existing engines or are you planning to replace the engine?

The cost of boat renovation also depends upon the size of the boat you are renovating and also on the type of raw material you will use to paint and give a finished look to your boat.

But first it is important to discuss some of the primary costs when it comes to boat renovation.

Labor Cost

You don’t need a shipyard to start your boat renovation project. You can renovate your old boat all by yourself. But do not try this if you are inexperienced.

This has happened multiple times that people attempted to renovate their boats on their own by ended up doing more damage to the boat.

So if you are inexperienced, it is a good idea to work with a professional. You can work along to devise the most appropriate renovation plan for your boat.

But in case you are hiring a professional for boar renovation, you will have to bear labor cost.

This cost certainly comes with the benefit of high quality renovation by a professional who knows all possible details and this leaves little room for mistakes.

In case of a major revamp, consider hiring technicians who are certified by the American Boat and Yatch Council (ABYC) or professionals with certifications from the electronics and engine manufacturers.

These are trained professionals who obvious charge more but have the right expertise to bring your boat in the best shape.

Material Costs

Labor and material costs are the two primary costs when it comes to boat renovation.

In case you hire a professional for renovating your boat, it is highly likely that they would recommend a well-stocked ship’s chandlery. This way, you can get all the required material from a reliable source.

Though labor and material costs are the two major costs of boat renovation, labor costs accounts far more than the cost of material.

All other costs depends upon the type of renovation. So let’s take a look at each on.

Minor Cosmetic Concerns vs. Major Structural Replacement

Many old boats have mold or mildew growth, damaged seats and cracks in fiberglass boats. These are minor cosmetic concerns.

If you planning to renovate a boat with minor cosmetic concerns, it will cost you much lesser compared to when renovating a boat with major structural repairs.

You will need structural repairs when your boat is severely damaged either by a major impact or a serious abrasion. This often requires replacement of a certain part which is far more expensive compared to repairs.

So the cost depends upon the physical condition of the boat. It is cheaper to renovate a boat with minor cosmetic concerns instead of the boat which needs major structural replacement. 

Engine Repair or Replacement


Another factor affecting the cost of boat renovation is whether the engine of your boat needs a repair or replacement.

The difference is the renovation cost of a boat which needs repair compared to the one which needs an engine replacement is around 60-70%.

It costs around $8,000 to repair a pair of gas engine but the cost of replacing can be as high as $22,000. If you are planning to buy an old boat and then renovate it, make sure you go for the one whose engine can be repaired.

Also, when people buy an old boat, they make a mistake of repowering their boats. This means that instead of repairing the engine, they invest in a new, bigger engine.

Most people do not realize that there is a certain structural capacity of the boat and in case you install an engine which is too powerful, it can actually damage your boat.

So seek professional assistance if you are not sure whether to buy a bigger and more powerful engine for your boat.

Size of the Boat

The cost of boat renovation also depends upon the size of the boat. As a rule of thumb, larger the boat, more will be the renovation costs. This is because larger boats are equipped with more complicated systems compared to smaller boats.

Varnish, Gelcoat, Fiberglass, and Paint

Giving the final touch to the boat is probably the most labor intensive part of boat renovation. To give a fiberglass look to your boat, you will need to hire a professional because the job requires a lot of precision and extensive preparation.

As a rule, all the work involved in fiberglass, gelcoat, and painting the boat is quoted according to the job and size of the boat.

You might be required to pay $150-$250 per foot to have your boat painted with any type of two part paints. The same amount needs to be paid if you need to get the decks painted.

However, the rate may increase as the detail of the work increases. But rate of bottom painting vary. It depends upon whether you want the paint to be stripped or blasted off.

Also it depends whether haul out and the launch are included or not. You can expect to pay anything between $15 and $40 per foot for bottom paint.

Different varieties of bottom paints are available at a different rate. So instead of going for the cheapest, go for paints which last longer.

As far as varnish is concerned, the rate is usually quoted for the entire boat. Some boats have a lot of woodwork which needs far more varnish compared to boats which have little or no use of wood.

Also, the condition of the wood is another consideration. In case the wood is tapered and is not is a good shape, boat renovation will cost more.

What Types Of Boats Are Best For Renovation Projects?

What Types Of Boats Are Best For Renovation Projects?

Now that you already know that boat renovation is a difficult job and what factors affect the cost of boat renovation, now is the time to know about the types of boats which are best for renovation projects.

Again the choice of boat depends upon personal preference but here is a guide.

Not all boats are designed to undergo major renovation. In fact, most boats are not suitable for a renovation project.

If you are buying an old boat with the intent of renovating it, think again. Everything which you get for “next to nothing” is not a good deal.

For example consider 31 Bertram. If you check its price, you can find an old one at a very cheap rate. But is a good value for money? Will it turn out to be as good as new if you renovate it?

The answer is no.

So how to choose a boat for a renovation project?

A good deal is when you buy an old boat, renovate it and check what people are willing to pay for it. You can easily find his out by doing some research on the resale value of similar boats.

Coming back to our earlier example of Bertram. You can find many such boats at a respectable price on online boat sale websites.

Another important thing to remember is choosing a boat for renovation project is to invest in an old boat which has minor cosmetic issues but its foundational structure and engine is in a good shape.

Boats with a better engine will need repair instead of replacement which will save you costs on your boat renovation project.

How Long Does It Take To Renovate Your Boat?

How Long Does It Take To Renovate Your Boat?

There are many example of people who spent years on renovating their boats. But all their time and effort went in vain. The boat didn’t turn out as expected and the investment on boat renovation never paid.

But there are people who renovated their boats in less than a few months and reaping the benefits for years. So how long does it take to renovate a boat? What is the ideal time needed to renovate the boat?

The answer depends upon a number of things. Again the type of renovation, the size of the boat, the extent and intricacy of details all determine the time required to renovate a boat.

Type of Renovation

In case of minor cosmetic concerns, it takes much lesser time to renovate the boat. But if major structural renovation is required, you will need a lot more time.

Similarly, if your engine needs repair, this can be a time taking process. But in case of engine replacement, all you need to do is to fix a new engine.

Size of Boat

The size of the boat also plays an important role in the time required to complete a boat renovation project. A smaller boat will surely need much lesser time compared to a larger boat.

Extent of Details

If you are planning some intricate detailing in your boat, you will definitely need a lot more time compared to when you plan for a simple finish of your boat.


Boat renovation can be a challenge yet rewarding experience. We recommend you go for boat renovation only if you are sure you will finish it. But nonetheless, rest assured that you can do it!