How Much Does Detailing a Boat Cost?

Written by: Staff

Detailing a boat, just like detailing a car, will make your boat look new and of course, clean again.  The price for detailing a boat depends on what the detailer will do, the condition of the boat, the geographical location, if travel is involved and the company performing the detail.

2012_SX240_16 by Yamaha WaterCraft, on Flickr
2012_SX240_16” (CC BY 2.0) by Yamaha WaterCraft

How much does detailing a boat cost?

On average, a boat detailing professional is going to charge anywhere from $8 to as much as $40 per foot, depending on what needs to be done, the boat’s size and the condition.  The larger the boat is, the more it will cost.  For example, a 40-foot boat will cost about $1 to $4 per foot more than a 25-foot boat.  Refer to our table below to see what most companies are charging, plus what they are going to include in the quote.  Do keep in mind this quote can be much higher if you were to have a boat that hasn’t been cleaned in years.  These quotes were found by averaging about 10 to 15 companies located throughout the entire United States.

Those who want to do the job themselves can purchase all the equipment, and do all the work themselves.  For example, wax, soap and renting a steam cleaner can cost anywhere from $45 to $100 for the complete list of supplies.  Kits can also be purchased online for as little as $25.  For example, the highly rated Meguiar’s New Boat Owners Kit retails for $25 to $35.

For example, while researching, we had found a highly reputable contractor in Orlando, Florida would charge a flat rate of $30 per feet, while a boat owner in Alabama paid $14 per foot.

PackageWhat's Included?Price (per foot)
Basic WashWashing the hull and topside, cleaning the gutter tracks and cleaning windows$2 to $4
Detailed WashEverything in basic, plus polish, removing mildew and cleaning compartments/hatches$8 to $11
Premium WashEverything above, plus conditioning the seats, removing rust, clearing canvas, protecting corrosion with a spray on working parts and adding protectant.$12 to $15
Premium + WaxEverything in premium, plus a wax and buff on all surfaces outside of water.$16 to $20
Premium + Wax + CompoundEverything, plus a compound on gelcoats$20 to $27

NOTE:  Boats larger than 40 feet can see prices 20 to 40 percent higher than this.

As for premium add-ons, here’s what you should expect to pay for most of these services:

ServicePrice (per foot)
Bottom Wash (if out of water)$2 to $5
Canvas Clean
Carpet Wash$3 to $5
Engine/Bilge Clean$2 to $6
Hull Detail (if out of water)$8 to $12
Power Cord Clean$1 to $2
Radar Arch$1 to $3
Scotch Guard on Caret$2 to $4

Boat detailing overview

Boat detailers may quote the entire exterior or some may charge by either the topside and/or hull.  Most basic detailing jobs will include a complete wash, a hand dry, window washing and an application of a cleaner wax.  Premium packages, if chosen, will include a non-skid deck treatment, compartment cleaning, helm cleaning, applying a vinyl treatment, shining metal and/or applying a rub rail restorer.  Every detailer will have their own inclusions and will be able to tell you ahead of time before you pay.

Most professionals will ask for a 50 percent deposit before they begin any work.

What are the extra costs?

Even if the package includes a compound, some detailers may need to pass over the surface with more than one coat.  If it needs more than one coat, each application will add to the total costs.

Compounding, often not included in most packages, is designed to restore the color and can remove any “cloudiness” look.  Compounding can often add, at a minimum, an additional $8 to $10 per foot.

An acid washing or scum line treatment can cost $2 to $5 per foot, depending on the condition.

Polishing all chrome and stainless steel can cost $5 to $11 per foot.

Isinglass treatments can cost about $20 to $40 per panel.

Detailing, unlike a car, won’t include the inside of the cabin such as vacuuming or cleaning a bathroom.  If you need to have the inside of your cabin cleaned, the costs can add another $4 to $7 per square foot, depending on the condition.  This will often include wiping down walls, cleaning mirrors, compartments, sinks and a carpet cleaning session.

Cleaning the bilge can cost anywhere from $100 to $350.

Marina fees may apply if applicable.

Barnacle cleaning may have a small $1 to $4 per foot surcharge, depending on the severity of the issue.

Tips to know

Some detailers will have a minimum before they work with you.  Most of the time, the minimum will be $50 to $150.

As a courtesy, most professionals will ask your compartments and/or cabin is empty to make the cleaning process easier.  If not done, this can incur additional charges, depending on the company policy.

How can I save money?

Detailing a boat just requires a few hours out of the day.  There are videos online that can help you pick out the right wax as well as show you how to apply it properly.

Some companies offer bulk discounts to owners who purchase packages up front for the year.  Detail Kings, for example, a professional boat detailer located in Illinois, charges $5,080 for a 40-foot vessel on its annual package.  This would include a bi-weekly hand wash and other perks.

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Average Reported Cost: $20

100 %
0 %
Less Expensive $1 $1.5K $3K $5K $6.5K More Expensive $8k

How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. larry d (fort lauderdale,  florida) paid $0 and said:

    i have a 29 ft monterey. use a local guy for general maintenance and its well worth the money.

    Was it worth it? Yes

  2. larry d paid $40 and said:

    $40 per foot

    Was it worth it? Yes

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