How Much Does Boat Detailing Cost?

Last Updated on February 1, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Keeping your boat looking its best requires regular cleaning and maintenance. Boat detailing involves thorough cleaning, conditioning, and protection to restore and preserve your boat.

But how much does professional boat detailing cost? Read on to learn about the key factors influencing boat detailing pricing and get a realistic idea of what to budget for comprehensive detailing services.

Boat detailing is more than just regular boat washing. It is a deep clean of the interior and exterior to remove mold, mildew, grime, salt, and oxidation.

Detailing extends the life of the boat while restoring it to showroom quality. The glossy, polished appearance enhances your boating experience and protects your investment.

While DIY boat cleaning can save money, professional detailing yields superior results. Experts use specialized tools and techniques perfected through extensive experience.

You benefit from their expertise and efficiency. The initial investment pays off through longevity and reduced deterioration.

How Much Does Boat Detailing cost?

Generally, boat detailing costs between $10 and $35 per linear foot for exterior detailing, which includes washing, waxing, and polishing. The cost of boat detailing can vary significantly, from $150 up to $1500 and more, depending on factors such as the size of the boat, the level of cleaning and detailing required, and the location.

Larger boats or those in poor condition may cost more to detail, while smaller boats may be on the lower end of the price range. It’s best to get quotes from local boat detailing services to get a more accurate estimate based on your specific needs and the condition of your boat.

Here’s a rough boat detailing cost breakdown by common boat sizes:

  • Small boats (under 25′): $150-$400
  • Midsize boats (25′-40′): $400-$750
  • Large boats (over 40′): $750-$1500+

Let’s look at typical pricing for basic vs. premium detailing:

Basic Boat Detailing Package

A basic detail includes external washing, interior vacuuming, vinyl and window cleaning, and engine wipe down. Expect to pay:

  • Small boats: $150-$250
  • Midsize boats: $250-$500
  • Large boats: $500-$1000

Cost per foot for basic detailing averages $12-$20.

Premium Boat Detailing

Premium detailing provides extensive cleaning, conditioning, and protection. Services include machine polishing and waxing, bilge cleaning, carpet/upholstery shampooing, and more. Premium detailing costs around $15-$35 per foot, for example:

  • Small boats: $250-$400
  • Midsize boats: $400-$750
  • Large boats: $750-$1500+

Premium detailing takes more time yet delivers longer-lasting results. The extra investment enhances your boat’s appearance and longevity.

At Marathon Auto Detailing the average cost to detail a boat can range anywhere from $8 to $40 per foot depending on its size and condition. Similar to the previous source, the larger the boat, the higher the detailing cost will be.

One user from The Hull Truth reported paying anywhere from $600 for a 23′ center console to $1,000 for top and bottom polishing and waxing.

Detail Time notes that the cost for exterior boat detailing ranges from $10 to $40 per foot, while the total cost for the exterior boat detailing service ranges from $15 to $50 per foot. The interior and exterior boat detailing service includes the cleaning of both the inside and outside of the boat.

At Islands Marine Center, the shop rates for boat detailing services are listed, such as exterior wash & wax to 9′ beam at $40.00 per foot, and hull only wash & wax at $18.75 per foot.

Factors Influencing Boat Detailing Costs

Several factors that determine the cost of professional boat detailing:

Size and Type of Boat

Larger boats require more time, labor, and materials. Detailing prices are usually based on linear boat size. Expect to pay around $12-$20 per foot for basic detailing and $15-$35 per foot for premium services. For a 30-foot boat, you would pay $360-$700 for basic and $450-$1050 for premium detailing.

The type of boat also impacts price. For example, an open bow needs less attention than a cabin cruiser. Simple, smooth-sided boats are faster to detail than complex surfaces with lots of nooks.

Detailing Services Required

The extent of detailing significantly affects cost. Basic washes start around $100. A thorough basic detailing package averages $250-$500. Comprehensive services with waxing, buffing and engine cleaning range from $400-$1000+. Additional services like mold remediation or stain removal add cost.

Location and Seasonal Variations

Geographic location factors into pricing too. Expect higher rates in coastal and metro areas.

Season also plays a role. Peak boating season brings demand spikes that can increase prices 20% or more. Off-season discounts may offset higher material costs in colder climates.

Breakdown of Boat Detailing Services

Boat detailing includes interior and exterior services. Here’s an overview:

Exterior Cleaning and Detailing

Exterior detailing removes contaminants and revives the hull’s luster. Services include:

  • Washing with boat soaps
  • Compound/polish machine buffing – $100-$300
  • Wax application – $50-$150
  • Chrome/metal polishing – $100-$300
  • Oxidation removal
  • Mold/mildew remediation – $250+
  • Hull/bottom cleaning – $100-$250

The cost for exterior detailing ranges from $200-$1,000+ based on the services rendered and the boat’s size.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a boat, boat survey, or boat transportation.

Interior Detailing

Interior detailing removes stains, odors, and grime from cabin spaces. Services include:

  • Vacuuming – $75-$150
  • Surface cleaning – $100-$250
  • Carpet/upholstery shampoo – $150-$400
  • Bilge cleaning – $75-$250
  • Odor elimination
  • Glass cleaning – $50-$150
  • Head/galley detailing

Expect to invest $250-$750 for comprehensive interior boat detailing depending on the boat’s layout and condition.

Paying a little more for skilled detailing prolongs your boat’s life and optimizes your time on the water.

DIY vs Professional Boat Detailing

Can you save money by detailing your boat yourself? Here’s a cost and benefit comparison:

Cost Comparison

DIY basic wash: $50 for supplies

Professional basic detail: $250+

DIY comprehensive: $150+ for supplies, 12+ hours

Professional premium detail: $750+, 6-8 hours

The professional advantage:

  • Superior results from proper techniques
  • Significant time savings – Work smarter, play sooner!
  • Access to commercial-grade cleaners and tools
  • Convenience of offsite service
  • Peace of mind from guaranteed work

Advantages of Professional Detailing

Hiring a pro is the best way to get showroom-quality results while optimizing your boating time. Consider the advantages:

  • Expertise from years of specialist training
  • Time and labor costs significantly reduced
  • Commercial equipment increases efficiency
  • Boat undamaged by amateur errors
  • Flexible scheduling for your convenience
  • Insured and licensed for your protection
  • Consistent, guaranteed workmanship

Disadvantages of DIY Detailing

Boat DetailingDIY boat detailing does save money up front. However:

  • Results are inconsistent and often subpar
  • Trial-and-error wastes time and supplies
  • Fails to reach tight spaces and remove stains
  • May damage boat with harsh chemicals or rough methods
  • Weather delays extend project timelines
  • Requires hauling supplies and disposing waste

While DIY boat washing suits basic maintenance, comprehensive detailing is best left to seasoned professionals. Their expertise delivers superior, lasting results well worth the reasonable investment.

How to Choose a Boat Detailing Service

Follow these tips to select the ideal boat detailing company:

Factors to Consider in a Service Provider

  • Expertise: Look for dedicated marine detailing experience.
  • Techniques: Well-versed in proper methods for boat types.
  • Reputation: Check reviews and business longevity.
  • Efficiency: Modern equipment to expedite cleaning.
  • Care: Gentle products and practices to prevent damage.
  • Convenience: Mobile or marina site services.
  • Professionalism: Licensed, insured, transparent estimates.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring

  • What is your experience with marine detailing?
  • What methods and products do you use?
  • How will you clean the bilge and other tight spaces?
  • Do you offer paint correction and ceramic coatings?
  • Will the original boat surfaces be damaged?
  • Do you come to my slip or haul location?
  • What is the cost estimate and what is included?
  • Can I see samples of your previous work?

Tips to Reduce Boat Detailing Costs

You can save on regular boat maintenance between full details by:

  • Rinsing often – Prevent buildup of salt, grime, and debris
  • Vacuuming and wiping – Quick cleanups make big difference
  • Spot cleaning – Address stains and spills promptly
  • Applying spray wax and protectants between waxes
  • Careful operation – Avoid scrapes, scratches, and damage
  • Checking seals, hinges, alignments to prevent leaks
  • Off-season deep clean – Take advantage of lower rates

Final Words

Regular professional detailing is a sound investment that safeguards your boat’s function and appearance. While costs vary based on services, size, and location, expect to budget $250-$1500+ for comprehensive detailing per season, or $12-$35 per foot.

Choose a specialist with marine experience, modern tools, and a reputation for outstanding yet gentle results. Avoid amateur damage and enjoy efficiency from the experts. By properly caring for your boat, professional detailing pays dividends through optimized performance, visual appeal, and longevity.

Your vessel depends on meticulous maintenance. With a committed boat detailing service, you can spend more carefree days on the water.


Why is it important to detail a boat?

Regular boat detailing removes contaminants that cause corrosion, damage, staining, and deterioration. Thorough detailing extends the lifespan of all boat components and maintains optimal performance. It also enhances the boat’s appearance and your pride of ownership.

How long does it take to buff a boat?

The time needed to buff a boat depends on its size and surface condition. On average, it takes 2-3 hours to buff a small boat, 3-5 hours for a midsize boat, and 6-10 hours for a large boat.

The more oxidation, chalking, stains, or scratches on the hull and components, the longer the buffing and compounding process will take to restore the surfaces.

Why clean the bottom of a boat?

Cleaning the boat’s bottom and hull is important for several reasons:

  • Removes algae, barnacles, and other marine growth that create drag and reduce speed/fuel efficiency.
  • Cleans off sediments, salt, grime that can cause corrosion if allowed to remain on the hull.
  • Restores the hull’s smoothness to improve motion through the water.
  • Allows for visual inspection of the hull for any damage or abnormalities.
  • Prevents spreading of invasive aquatic species from growth on the hull.
  • Maintains the boat’s optimal performance and extends its lifespan.
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