How Much Does a Boat Lift Cost?

Written by: Staff
Last Updated:  August 8, 2018

A boat lift is a large structure that is capable of lifting your boat out of the water.

Whether you’re keeping your boat at a marina, in your backyard or at a private pier, keeping your boat on a lift will offer a few advantages:  you won’t have to worry about painting the boat’s bottom, you won’t have to worry about your boat floating away nor will you have to worry about your boat sinking.

150 Primrose Boat lift by LakeMartinVoice, on Flickr
150 Primrose Boat lift” (CC BY 2.0) by LakeMartinVoice

How much does a boat lift cost?

The cost of a boat lift will depend on the size of the boat that needs to be lifted, the type of lift, the brand and where it’s purchased.  The average price is usually between $2,000 to $20,000+.  As a general rule of thumb, plan on budgeting $1,000 per ton and $500 per piling when budgeting.

For instance, a cantilever boat lift can be around $700 to $3,500, depending on the weight of the boat.  For instance, the popular Hewitt brand retails for $1,600 to $3,500.

Vertical boat lifts can cost anywhere from $6,000 to more than $20,000, depending on the boat lift and the additional features you may want to add.  For example, adding a power feature could increase the price.

A hydraulic boat lift can cost $2,000 to $10,000, again, depending on the weight of the boat and features you want to add.

For larger boats, elevator boat lifts are needed, and these types of lifts can lift weights ranging from 1,500 to 16,000 pounds and the pricing starts at $8,000 to $22,000.

For specific boats such as a Pontoon boat, a pontoon boat lift can cost anywhere from $8,000 to more than $16,500 without installation.

Members on the talked about this very question and said they had paid anywhere from $3,000 for a 10K lift to $4,300 for an 11,000-pound aluminum lift.

Air Dock Boat Lifts lists its prices, along with the sizes the boat lifts are capable of handling.  According to the price list, the costs range from as little as $700 for a PWC model capable of lifting up to 650 pounds to as much as $8,343 for a lift capable of lifting up to 24,000 pounds.

The types of boat lifts


A cantilever boat lift will have few moving parts and the load is fully supported by the frame.  Most will be made of a corrosion resistant aluminum, assuring low maintenance and no rust.  This type of boat lift will be your cheapest option and can be the easiest to move around.


An elevator boat lift will be “side mounted” to a seawall or dock, often resembling the same functionality of a forklift.  Made of either a galvanized steel or aluminum, these lifts can lift up to 16,000 pounds.


Designed to hold medium to larger boats, a hydraulic boat lift will combine strength and the quality of marine grade aluminum to hold weights up to 10,000 pounds.


This type of lift can carry loads ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 pounds.  This lift can easily be moved due to its lightweight designed and will commonly be electric powered, making it very easy to control.

What are the extra costs?

Some dealers include the installation while others may charge for it separately, adding to your expenses.  If the installations costs aren’t included, then plan on spending another $500 to $1,000.

A boat railway is needed to bring the boat into a boathouse or up on shore.  The price of a boat railway starts at $1,500 to $3,500, depending on the length of the tracks and roller sizes.

There are add-ons you can add to your boat lift.  For example, carpeted bunks, a motor stop, pontoon rack kit, and/or a pontoon stabilizer bar are just a few of the many accessories you can add to enhance its usage and appearance.

Like the boat itself, the lift must also be maintained to lengthen its life.  Maintenance will include making sure that the nuts, bolts, runners and other parts are all working properly.  Regular maintenance is important since it will avoid costly repairs in the future.   This can be done by regularly lubricating the gears, steel cables and other moving parts with grease.  You also need to check for any cracks in the belts, defaults in the electrical cables, and cuts in the wire insulation.

If purchasing online or from a seller who requires it to be shipped, shipping/freight charges will need to be factored in.

Tips to know:

When not in use, even for a day, the boat lift must be raised to the normal level position.  You also need to shut all power to the lift from the circuit breaker.

When choosing the ideal boat lift, you need to consider the boat’s specifications: the length of its water line, its length overall, the beam and the actual weight of the boat, rigging and equipment, not the displacement.  You can refer to your boat’s operator’s manual for the important information regarding the lifting process.  Once you have all the information needed, you can then contact the boat dealers in your area and see what equipment is available.

How can I save money?

When buying a boat lift, you may find it cheaper to go for a third party boat dealer rather than the manufacturer.  Also, consider looking slightly used models to save up to 60 percent.

Shop around.  Contact different dealers and get the average pricing.  Do not just go for the cheapest, but for the one that has a reputation in giving out quality boat lifts.

If you are up to it, you can make your own boat lift.  All you need to have is the right knowledge and the appropriate materials. gives a suggestion on how to make your own boat lift.  You can check it out in order to save money.

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