One of the first questions people ask when getting info on having their boat detailed is how much is this going to cost me? But that isn’t where you should start.
Before calling or writing to the detailing company. You need to have an idea of what services you’d like to have done to your boat. The cost of a weekly wash will vary drastically from a complete restoration job.
Another thing to consider is the pricing structure. Some services may be priced per foot, per hour, or a flat fee depending on what you’re having done. This is because some services are very cut and dry, while others may take longer once you dive into the service at hand.
**Everything in this guide is used as a baseline and services and prices may differ**
Potential Service Offerings:
- Weekly Wash
- Deep Wash
- Cleaner Wax
- Multi-stage Buffing/Polishing
- Single-stage Polishing
- Ceramic Coating
- Interior/Cabin Cleaning
- Carpet Shampooing
- Engine Room Detail
- Bilge Cleaning
- Isinglass Cleaning and protecting
- Metal polishing
- Window polishing
- Vinyl cleaning and protection
- Teak cleaning, sanding and/or sealing
An entry-level and probably the most cost-effective service you can hire a boat detailer for. Typically there are two types of washes, your standard weekly wash, or a deep/maintenance wash.
A weekly wash is a great way to keep your boat dialed in, in between major waxings and details. What can you expect in a weekly wash? A thorough cleaning from the waterline up. A standard detailer will wash the boat from bow to stern, and top to bottom. Give a quick cleaning in your hatches, compartments, tracks, and underneath your vinyl seats.
They will also give all your metal, windows, isinglass a good cleaning and wipe down. Some may even hit the boat with a quick spray wax to enhance the gloss. This helps to keep the boat looking great week after week since the boat shouldn’t be too dirty.
Price will vary based on the detailer and the level of intricacy of their wash.
Deep Wash/Maintenance Wash
This type of wash will dig deeper into your boats inner workings. A good fit for boaters who may not be looking for a full-blown detail but their boat needs more love than a weekly wash. Or the hardcore fisherman after a hard trip offshore. A detailer will typically do everything mentioned in a weekly wash and then some.
This will involve diving deeper into the hatches, pulling all the gear out and really cleaning out the compartments, and placing the gear back in. Look in the bilge area on your smaller powerboats and give a good cleaning with a degreaser. Even mold/mildew removal on cushions, under gunwales, and any other places mold may be hiding.
For maintaining a coating it will involve going over the boat with a booster spray, for example, our graphene refresh, or solar/graphene glow.
Here’s where things start to pick up speed and will start to become time-consuming. Chances are if you’re compounding the boat you’ll need to follow up with a polish to refine the surface more and eliminate any swirling that may be left behind.
Although, the correct pad and product combo can allow you to finish down in one step depending on the severity of oxidation. What follows a good buffing will be an intense wash and some form of sealant/protection. The boat tends to turn into a sand trap from heavy cutting and you need a clean surface to apply your wax.
If your boat needs more attention than just a buff and polish, your detailer will probably step up to wet sanding. When wet sanding this is usually a multi-stage process working up from a coarse grit paper into a finer grit sand paper. After sanding the detailer will need to followup with a compound and polish to refine the surface.
Price: $55+ /hr
Probably one of the more expensive services you will pay for when detailing your boat from the sheer cost of supplies but well worth it, if cared for. A ceramic coating involves complete paint/gelcoat correction so factor in some of the pricing above.
After the correction step, the boat will undergo a strip wash with a dedicated strip wash or dawn soap. Following a deep bath, the detailer will apply a prep wipe. This is comprised of Isopropyl alcohol mixed with other cleaners to provide the surface with a truly blank canvass for the coating to bond to.
An additional step some detailers may follow through with next is applying a primer polish that contains Si02. The purpose of this is to fill in the pores of the gelcoat and allow an even surface for the coating to bond to. It does provide a better bond, especially on a boat whose surface may be a little worse for wear.
Price: $50-150 and up/ft
This can go a few different ways depending on the size of the boat. A basic cuddy cabin is a much simpler cleaning process than a smaller express cruiser. As you move larger into more substantial yachts where the complexity grows you’ll see the pricing start to vary.
What is the detailing company doing a quick wipe down? Or are they going deep and digging into every nook and cranny? Are they cleaning bedding and towels as well? Do you want your carpets shampooed?
What can be included is a full wipe down with an APC, cleaning in the draws, fridges, heads, galley. Vacuuming the carpets and cleaning/polishing any wood surfaces inside. Cleaning any wood with Murphys, getting rid of all fingerprints on any high polished metal including door handles.
Price: Basic cuddy wipes to small express cruisers $50-500 flat.
Yachts – whatever the detailers hourly rate is $55/hr & up.
Engine Room/Bilge Details
Another task that varies based on the boat size because of how involved it can become. A small center console is simple cleaning with a degreaser and wiping/rinsing. Whereas, a larger sportfish or yacht will have a much more intricate engine room and bilge.
In a larger boat with a full-blown engine room. Detailing the engine room and bilge will involve spraying a degreaser throughout the entire engine room and wiping it down. Even gently misting the engine room to help rinse off the degreaser but avoid soaking everything.
For stubborn stains, it will require agitation with a detail brush and wiping clean or even steam for those tough to reach areas. Within all the bilge areas and in between the stringers and motors can be a pain to reach and clean in and require some effort.
After cleaning under engine mounts, the detailer may even replace the oil-sorb pads with fresh ones.
Some routine bilges like on a small center console may even be included in your detail.
Price: $50 and up or an hourly rate of $55+/hr
Teak Sanding/Cleaning & Or Sealing/Varnishing
A true labor of love, teak care. When freshly done nothing beats the look of beautiful blonde teak decks or gleaming varnish work. Don’t be fooled this work comes at a cost. Teak work is time-consuming and isn’t cut and dry.
Basic cleaning is relatively simple, whether using a single-step powder or a more harsh two-part cleaner. This is routine work and won’t be too pricey, a detailer will typically charge you a flat fee.
Stripping varnish, semi-permanent sealers will require more effort. They require either using heat and/or sanding to remove the old varnish. Sanding teak decks is also a time-consuming process from masking off any sensitive areas and going through the motions. Jobs like this will usually be billed by the hour.
This is because of the nature of these projects they aren’t cut and dry and can vary in time depending on how teak wants to cooperate.
Price: Flat Fee to $55+/hr
Other odds and ends services like metal polishing, isinglass cleaning/polishing and protecting, and vinyl cleaning and protecting, are straightforward. Most of the time these services are a flat fee. Where you may see it switch to an hourly rate is when you get into larger yachts if they become much more time-consuming projects.
When it comes to having your boat detailed there are a lot of options. It’s best to have an idea of what you’re looking for before you reach out to a detailer. This way you can communicate to them exactly what you’re looking for and you two can come up with the perfect game plan for you and your boat.
This helps to ensure there are no hidden costs or services not performed when all is said and done. Boat detailing cost can be very subjective based on depth of service and your location, all things to keep in mind. If you’re feeling adventurous then you can always pick up the perfect YACHTE products to bring your boat back up to par. Check out our Boat Detailing Starter Kit to allow you to sample everything in one cost-effective option.