Boat Upgrade Projects that Add Value for Comfort and Future Resale

boat shade upgrade

Improve boating comfort and convenience with boat upgrades ideas that also improve the resale value of your boat

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Maintaining your most valuable recreational asset is important for optimal enjoyment and future resale value. It always amazes me when I see boat owners that neglect their boat’s condition and never make any upgrades to the boat’s condition.

If you are a current boat owner, then you know that constant maintenance of your boat is important to keep it in good shape. If you just bought a used boat, you are likely going to want to make some boat upgrades or customizations to make it your own.

Minor boat upgrade projects are also important to keep your boat looking good, running well and add or maintain boat value. When your boat is running good and looking good it will be more comfortable and convenient boating during the time that you own it.

Here are some boat upgrade projects that will help add value to your boat and improve your boating experience.

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Boat Canvas Replacement or Upgrades

With a harsh marine environment, most boat canvas needs to be replaced or upgraded every 5 years or so. You may be able to squeeze a few more years out of it with meticulous cleaning, re-stitching or zipper replacements. But chances are you will eventually want to upgrade or replace your boat canvas. Many boaters choose to improve the overall look and functionality of their boat canvas by making minor changes like adding screens, ‘U’ zipper windows or changing the color to from turquoise to navy to give an older boat an updated look.

This is also the perfect time to consider upgrading your boat canvas to a new design or configuration that is better suited for your boating style – like increasing the height at the helm, enlarging the camper enclosure or even installing a retractable sunshade system. We replaced our canvas with every new [used] boat purchase because we simply wanted to increase the height to accommodate a very tall captain.

With our latest boat, we decided to make an even better upgrade to a SureShade retractable sunshade system that allowed us to extend the canvas over the entire cockpit without the need for support poles. And we even got a new camper enclosure – a nice upgrade from the previous angled aft canvas curtain.

Boat Deck Carpet Replacement

Just like your canvas, chances are your boat deck carpet has taken a beating over the years.

The exposure to the elements combined with constant wear and tear (and occasional red wine stain “accidents” from boat guests) often means you’ll need to replace boat deck carpet every 5 years or so.

There are several options for marine grade deck carpet replacement, such as custom fit carpet direct from the manufacturer (if your boat model and year is still carried by suppliers), boat deck carpet do-it-yourself kits and even off the shelf outdoor carpet that you can cut and install on a boat.

New deck carpet adds value by giving your boat a fresh look… and is also more comfortable on your feet boarding the boat after a swim at your favorite cove.

Read more about the three different methods we used on the three boats we have owned in my article about Options for Boat Deck Carpet Replacement.

Upgrade to LED Cockpit or Cabin Lighting

Upgrading your cockpit or cabin lighting with LED lights can be both a cosmetic upgrade and an energy saving upgrade. Not only are LED light energy-efficient, but they give your boat a definite “cool factor” at night on the dock.

With the new trend of blue LED replacement lights readily available on the marine market, you’ll likely see more cool blue illuminated boat cockpits on your dock soon too. LED light upgrades on boats can add value to your boat and help it stand out on a used boat market.

Upgrading Electronics with Latest Technology

Upgrading your boat’s electronics with the latest technology options in chart plotters, marine GPS systems, radar systems, fish finders or marine stereo systems is an attractive bonus for potential buyers. It will also help you enjoy your boat more during cruising or fishing excursions.

If you are thinking about selling your boat within the next few years, be careful not to over-upgrade your electronics. You can still get a nice desirable upgrade by purchasing marine electronics that are above average, yet aren’t overly expensive top of the line models.

Interior Boat Upgrades

The older your boat gets, the more likely it needs some interior upgrades – either cosmetic or functional. This could include new fabric or material for salon cushions, new mattresses, updated window treatments, appliances or interior carpeting.

Keeping up with any necessary repairs – such replacements or repairs to hardware, paneling or built-ins – will make your time on the boat more comfortable as well as maintain boat value.

Boat Cockpit Refrigerators and Ice Makers

A refrigerator or ice maker in a cockpit is a nice luxury upgrade that almost becomes a necessity for some boaters. In some cases you may want to add a new marine refrigerator to a cockpit, while in other cases swapping out an old refrigerator with a new marine ice maker may be more useful for your boating lifestyle. Either way, an updated cockpit appliance will improve your on-deck comfort and your future resale value.

Also read Boat Resale Values and Appraisals for Used Boats for tips on determining the best resale price or book value on your boat.

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Diane Seltzer

View posts by Diane Seltzer
Diane is the founder of as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids Active in the boating industry, Diane has also led the marketing for multiple recreational boating businesses and startups.


  1. Boat WindowsMarch 13, 2019

    Best of luck with the following!

  2. boat graphicsSeptember 16, 2011

    One way to increase the value of your boat is by having it done in boat graphics. You can customize the design to fit into your personal preferences. Your boat will not only look good but will have longer life span due to the protective quality of the material.

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