Can I Apply and Heat Shrink Wrap Without Professional Help?

It seems like these days you can find a DIY guide on the internet for just about anything. How to train your dog, how to fix your car, how to grill a good steak—practically anything you might want to do, you can find instructions and advice for on sites like WikiHow, Quora, and all the blogs dedicated to any particular subject. With all the knowledge out there, readily available, it might seem like you can become a functioning professional at anything given an hour or two to read a couple of articles—in fact, why do you need to hire professionals to do anything for you now, anyway?

But the reality is that not all tasks are cut out to be DIY. Sure, there are WikiHow guides for tattooing yourself, for instance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should attempt it yourself, or that you’d feel comfortable doing so. Some things are just best left to those who’ve taken the time to learn from real-life sources and practice through hands-on experience—in short, professionals who know what they’re doing.

So, you might be wondering: is shrink wrapping one of those things? Should I just learn how to do it and shrink wrap my assets myself? You just heat shrink wrap and it shrinks, right—how hard can it be? Or should I hire someone who’s learned how to shrink wrap during their time on the job? Will it make a difference? And will it save me money?

Answering those last two questions will lead us to the answer to the first one. With that in mind, let’s compare DIY shrink wrap and professional shrink wrap in terms of cost and quality, so that you can decide for yourself which one better suits your needs.

Is Equipment to Apply and Heat Shrink Wrap Worth Your Money?

First of all, let’s start with the whole reason you’re considering doing it yourself in the first place: you want to save money. So, how does the cost of DIY shrink wrap compare to the cost of professional shrink wrap service from a contractor?

First, let’s look at the approximate costs of professional shrink wrap services. Let’s say we’re wrapping a boat. Nationwide, starting prices tend to range from $25 to $60 per foot for boats under 30 feet long. That means that, for example, a 20-foot deck boat using the median price of $43 per foot would cost about $860. Appendages like radar arches and flying bridges would add a bit to the price as well.

But what if you do it yourself? First you need a propane-fired heat gun, so you can heat shrink wrap to make it, well, shrink. These alone cost $600-$1200. You can rent one for $75 plus shipping from several different suppliers, but that still leaves everything else you need. The shrink wrap itself will likely run you a couple hundred dollars, and you still need shrink wrap tape, adhesive spray, stick-on vents, a film knife, strapping, and desiccant bags. Altogether, if you rent the heat gun you’ll probably spend around $400 each time for a boat that size. If you buy a heat gun, it’ll be $925-$1525 the first time and $325 every time thereafter.

Right now, you’re probably thinking the issue looks settled—doing it yourself is clearly the more cost-effective option, right? Well, hold your horses. There’s still another factor that has yet to be accounted for, and it can be an expensive one. It’s the issue of insurance.

When you pay a contractor to shrink wrap something of yours, these contractors more often than not have insurance in case they damage it. Exceptions exist—there are companies who travel to you and charge $10 per foot but may not include insurance or cost of materials—but you should tread with caution there. Mistakes can be costly.

Failing to put in supports high enough off the windshield can leave the windshield unprotected from impacts, potentially leading it to crack or shatter later on. Holding the heat gun too close to the shrink wrap can ignite it, at which point you may as well be burning money. And some types of surfaces should never have heat guns pointed at them—unknowingly aiming one at Imron-type paint or bottom paint while trying to heat shrink wrap can cause significant damage. Then you’re left spending time and money repairing these mistakes, and the money you saved trying to do it yourself has been lost—and maybe even more.

So hiring a company with insurance and skilled workers can reduce your liability. That means that while DIY shrink wrap may allow you to generally pay a bit less, it may result in you having to pay a lot more Whether you want to take that risk is your call.

Is Learning to Apply and Heat Shrink Wrap Worth Your Time?

However, when you pay for a service, what you are really doing is exchanging your money for someone else’s time. If you choose to perform that service yourself, you might end up saving a bit of money—but what about your time?

DIY shrink wrap can be time-consuming. First you need to shop around for each item on that laundry list of necessary equipment. Then you need to wait for it to arrive. In the meantime, you need to do extensive research learning how to perform a shrink wrap operation. You read the DIY guides, maybe watch a couple of videos. Then when the equipment arrives, you need to make figure out your plan of attack for shrink wrapping your particular object. Where do supports go? Where do vents go? What parts do and don’t need to be wrapped? You practice on some other small objects like boxes to get a hang of using the heat gun to heat shrink wrap and get it to shrink evenly.

All of this may in the end seem like a whole lot of time and effort put in just to get less-than-professional shrink wraps on your assets. There is the possibility that you and a whole lot of other people pool resources, for example maybe a bunch of boaters coming together to shrink wrap all their boats, in which case you might save a decent amount of money and waste relatively little time. But other than that, you’re probably better off getting professionals to do it. It’ll take only a couple of hours, be of higher quality, and possibly save you from incurring additional expenses if things don’t go as planned.

So if you need to shrink wrap something, look no further than Unlimited Shrinkwrap in McHenry, Illinois. We’re the trusted shrink wrap provider in the area, wrapping watercraft, construction and industrial equipment, and more. Give us a call at (815) 759-8944—you’ll be glad you left the job to the professionals.


Unlimited Shrinkwrap
2350 W. Rte. 120
McHenry, Il 60051
(815) 759-8944