How Much Does It Cost to Build a Wooden Boat?

Written by Desiree Vilar in Cost of Sailing

Wood is a natural material that is strong, durable, resistant to corrosion, and an excellent insulator. Building a boat out of wood is also a more cost-effective option than using other materials like fiberglass or aluminum. If you're interested in building a wooden boat, let's break down the upfront costs, as well as the hidden costs you need to be prepared for.

The cost to build a wooden boat ranges from $3,000 to $10,000. The cost of materials can range from $2,500 to $10,000, while labor costs can range from $0 for DIY to $20,000 if hiring a professional. Tools can cost between $500 and $5,000, while costs for permits, storage, and transportation range from $100 to $1,000.

Aside from these upfront costs, there are also hidden costs, which include fees for maintenance, storage, insurance, upgrades, and repairs. Let's take a look at how much each of these costs and how we can save on each one.


  • The most costly type of wood used for building boats is Teak, which is priced at $20–$50 per board foot.
  • Opt for marine-grade coatings and paint, which cost around $20–$50 per gallon, and marine-grade sealant or glue for about $10–$50 per tube.
  • The hourly rate for a professional boat builder usually ranges from $20 to $50 per hour.
  • If you are starting from scratch, you will need to purchase a few pieces of machinery, such as a planer (for only about $50–$200) or a jointer (for about $300–$1,500).
  • Using wood is generally the most affordable option for boat building, compared to the prices of building fiberglass and aluminum boats, which range from $15,000 to $50,000.

Cost Breakdown Of Building A Wooden Boat

Below is a table showing the upfront costs involved in building a wooden boat:

Upfront costs Estimated cost range
Materials $2,500 - $10,000
Labor $0 (if building yourself) - $20,000+ (if hiring a professional)
Tools and machinery $500 - $5,000+
Miscellaneous costs $100 - $1,000+

The cost of materials is one of the biggest expenses to account for

The total cost of materials can range from $2,500 for a smaller wooden boat to over $10,000 for a larger one.

In this section, we'll take a closer look at the different types of wood and other essential materials needed to build a wooden boat.

Types of wood used to build a boat

Below are some of the most commonly used types of wood in boat building:

Material Estimated Cost (per board foot) Pros Cons
Marine Plywood $3-$5 Affordable, easy to work with, readily available, resistant to rot, mildew, and insects Not as strong as other types of wood
White Oak $5-$7 Strong, durable, resistant to decay, easy to work with, beautiful grain pattern More expensive than other types of wood
Cedar $3-$4 Lightweight, rot-resistant, easy to work with, pleasant aroma Not as strong as other types of wood, less suitable for larger boats
Teak $20-$50 Durable, weather-resistant, beautiful grain pattern, requires little maintenance Expensive
Mahogany $10-$15 Strong, durable, beautiful grain pattern More expensive than other types of wood

Other essential materials used to build a wooden boat

There are several other essential materials needed to build a wooden boat.

Material Estimated cost Description
Fasteners $0.05-$0.50 per piece Screws, nails, and bolts used to hold the boat together (opt for stainless steel fasteners)
Sealant or glue $10-$50 per tube Used to seal joints and prevent water from entering the boat. (pick a marine-grade sealant or glue)
Metal fixtures $5-$50 per piece Hinges, latches, and cleats used to attach various components of the boat together.
Finish coatings and paint $20-$50 per gallon Used to protect the wood from the elements and give the boat a finished look. (choose marine-grade coatings and paint)

The labor costs depend on whether you decide to do DIY or hire a professional

If you decide to build the boat yourself, you will need to factor in the cost of your time. Building a wooden boat can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, based on the size and complexity of the design.

If you decide to hire a professional, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $50 per hour for their services. It can reach up to $20,000 or more, because professional boat builders have years of experience and expertise in building boats, which means they can create high-quality boats that are durable, seaworthy, and aesthetically pleasing.

The cost of tools and machinery depends on what you already have and need to purchase

If you are starting from scratch, you will need to purchase a variety of hand and power tools such as saws, drills, and sanders. You may also need to purchase machinery such as a planer or joiner. The estimated cost of some tools and machinery can be seen below:

Tools or machine Estimated cost
Circular saw $50-$150
Table saw $300-$1,500
Jigsaw $50-$200
Hand planer $50-$200
Joiner $300-$1,500
Belt sander $50-$200
Drill press $100-$500
Router $50-$300
Clamps (various sizes) $10-$50 each
Caulking gun $10-$20
Heat gun $20-$50
Paint sprayer $50-$200

Having your sailboat made in a shipyard cuts down the costs of these tools and equipment. You can see more of the advantages of building a sailboat in a shipyard by reading this article.

Set aside a budget for miscellaneous costs

Miscellaneous costs can include things like permits, storage, and transportation. Depending on where you live, you may need to obtain a permit before you can start building your boat, and usually, it costs around $100 - $1,000 or more.

You might also need to factor in the cost of storage for your boat while you are building it. If you need to transport your boat to the water, you will need to factor in the cost of a trailer and any additional equipment needed to move it.

Hidden Costs Of Building A Wooden Boat

In addition to the obvious expenses of materials and labor, there are several hidden costs that you should be aware of such as the following:

Hidden expenses Estimated cost
Maintenance costs $500 - $1,500 per year
Storage costs $50 - $500 per month
Insurance costs $500 - $2,000 per year
Upgrades and repairs $1,000 - $5,000 or more, depending on the extent of the work needed

You need to have a budget for regular maintenance

Once your boat has been built, keeping up with regular maintenance helps maintain the boat's good condition and prevent damage or deterioration over time.

Maintenance tasks can include sanding and refinishing the wood to protect it from the elements, replacing hardware such as ropes, sails, and fittings, and repairing any damage that may occur. You can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per year on maintenance costs for a wooden boat.

For average sailboat maintenance costs per year, you can refer to this article.

Factor in the costs of where you'll store your boat when not in use

Wooden boats are susceptible to damage from the elements, so you may need to keep them covered and protected from the sun, rain, and wind. This may mean renting a storage space or building a shelter on your property, which can be an additional expense.

In general, you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 to $500 per month on storage costs. This may vary, as larger boats will require more space and may be more expensive to store than smaller boats.

Also, storage facilities located in more expensive areas or areas with high demand for boat storage may be more expensive than those in less expensive areas. You can ask for discounts if you're looking for longer-term storage, however, for short-term storage, some facilities may charge more or require a minimum storage period.

To know the exact costs of dry-docking your boat, read this article.

Avail insurance to protect yourself and your investment

Insurance can help protect yourself and your investment in case of accidents or damage to the boat. If you plan to use your boat for commercial purposes, you may need a different type of insurance policy than if you plan to use it for personal use only. Typically, the estimated costs to insure wooden boats range from $500 - $2,000 per year.

Consider shopping around for the best rates and coverage options to ensure that you have adequate protection for your boat and your investment. Some insurance policies may also offer additional benefits, such as coverage for towing or salvage costs in case of an accident.

Consider costs for future upgrades and repairs

Over time, your boat may need repairs due to wear and tear, damage from use or accidents, or other factors. Additionally, you may want to make upgrades or modifications to your boat to improve its performance, functionality, or appearance.

These upgrades and repairs can include things like adding new features, replacing or repairing damaged parts, or even completely rebuilding parts of the boat. The cost of upgrades and repairs lies anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 or more depending on the extent of work needed to be done.

Comparison Of Costs With Other Boat Building Materials

Building a wooden boat can range in cost from about $3,000 to over $10,000. Below, we'll compare this cost to the cost of building a fiberglass boat, aluminum boat, steel boat, and plastic boat:

Boat material Average cost range Description Price compared to wooden boats
Fiberglass $15,000 - $30,000 Lightweight, durable, low maintenance Expensive compared to wooden boats
Aluminum $20,000 - $50,000 Lightweight, strong, corrosion-resistant More expensive than wooden boats
Steel $50,000 - $100,000 Strong, durable Heavy and much more expensive than wooden boats
Plastic $10,000 - $30,000 Lightweight, durable, low maintenance More expensive to build than wooden boats

Wooden boats are generally the most affordable option for boat building. Fiberglass and aluminum boats are more expensive, but they are lightweight and less prone to corrosion. See more of the pros and cons of an aluminum boat here.

Meanwhile, steel boats are the most expensive option, but they offer strength and durability, and plastic boats are a relatively new option which is also more expensive than wood.

Save Money By Following These Tips

If you're wondering how to keep costs down when building a wooden boat without compromising on quality, here are some ways to do so:

Consider doing it all by yourself

While hiring a professional may seem like a good idea, it can be expensive. If you have the time and the skills, doing it yourself can save you a significant amount of money. If you plan to build a sailboat, here's how much you need to budget for.

Find affordable materials

You can save money by buying materials in bulk or by purchasing them from a local lumberyard. You may also consider using recycled or reclaimed wood to save money.

Use secondhand tools

Using secondhand tools can help you save on costs and you can often find used tools in good condition for a fraction of the cost of buying new ones. You might also want to just borrow tools from friends or family members to save money.

Choose a simple boat design

A more complex design will require more materials and more time, which can drive up the cost. A simple boat design can be just as functional and enjoyable to use as a more complex one, and it can save you money in the process.

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