Are you a new boat owner? Regardless of whether you bought your beauty off the showroom floor or pre-owned off Craigslist, it’s a significant purchase. Boats cost thousands of dollars, and it’s a big investment into your recreational activities for the years ahead.
Most boats come as standard models for the dealer. When the original buyer closes the sale agreement, the dealer typically presents them with a list of optional extras and accessories. You can add these OEM features to your boat for an extra cost over the retail price.
However, dealers often overcharge for these accessories and upgrades. As a result, boat owners can end up adding as much as 20% to 30% to the base model price tag with their accessories. So, many boat owners choose to pass on the extras offered by the dealership.
If you’re buying the boat new, aftermarket parts and accessories for your boat are far cheaper than getting them from the dealer. However, if you have limited experience in fitting accessories, you’ll want to choose options offering you easy installation.
We put together this list of 32 DIY boat upgrades to personalize your boat. Most of them are easy to fit, regardless of the manufacturing brand, size, or purpose.
- Interior Upgrades for Your Boat
- Electronics Upgrades for Your Boat
- Exterior Upgrades for Your Boat
Interior Upgrades for Your Boat
1 Compact Trash Can
Are you one of those boat owners that use a plastic carrier bag for a trash bag onboard your boat? This strategy not only looks unsightly but there’s a good chance the bag ends up going overboard, polluting the environment.
A compact trash can gives you a dedicated space for your waste. It sits out of the way, offering you easy access and disposal of your waste on board the vessel. They clean out in seconds, and it’s a low-cost upgrade every boat needs.
2 Marine Cup Holders
Simple upgrades are often the most satisfying, offering you utility out on the water that leaves you smiling from ear to ear. Most boats don’t come with cup holders, and if the manufacturer has to cast them into the boat’s body or the chairs, they’ll cost you a fortune as an extra.
There are several models of aftermarket cup holders available. They come in a range of mounting configurations to suit fitment anywhere on the boat. Let your passengers keep their beverages off the deck to avoid spilling, and keep them within arm’s reach.
3 Fishing Extras
If you’re keen on fishing, then you’re going to need a fish finder to locate the best spots in dams, lakes, rivers, and out on the ocean. This handy piece of tech can draw data on shoals around your boat, leading you to the most productive fishing grounds.
Rod holders are another essential accessory for sports fishing. Rod holders keep your rod and tackle secure and out of the way while sailing to and from the fishing spot. Most OEM rod holders cost a fortune, but aftermarket parts are a fraction of the price and an affordable DIY upgrade for your boat.
4 Pedestal Seats
Replace the factory seats with pedestals. Pedestal seats are a great choice for fishing, allowing you to get high above the water to see the fish as you’re fighting them in the water. They also make for excellent captain’s chairs, providing a 360-degree view of the water.
You get a pneumatic arm on the seat, allowing you to raise or lower it to your required height. You have options for various designs and finishes in a range of materials.
5 Swivel Seat
If you have a Jon boat, you understand the hassle of seating on the vessel. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s challenging to shift the seating position between the motor and the side of the boat.
Adding a swivel chair to your Jon boat lets you pivot from one seating position to another. The swivel chairs also come in a range of materials and design options, allowing you to add more comfort to the boat and your passenger’s experience with you out on the water.
6 Improve Your Dining Experience
If you have a cabin cruiser or yacht with a living area and galley, upgrade your living experience by adding gas burners, microwaves, kettles, and coffee machines.
You also have the option of investing in some classy dinnerware for your guests. Look for non-skid nautical dinnerware sets and shatter-resistant melamine cookware sets that won’t chip if a rogue wave collides with the vessel.
7 Replace Carpets
Carpets are one of the high-wear components on a boat. After a few years, the fouling of the material makes it in need of dire replacement. Most boats come with marine carpeting that allows for waterproofing of the material and easy cleaning.
However, most boat owners don’t bother with cleaning the carpets; they just replace them when they start looking grubby. You have options for snap-in carpets that are easy to fit and remove, allowing for easier cleaning than most OEM carpeting.
Adding a new set of carpets to the deck of your boat gives it a fresh look, increasing its aesthetic appeal and resale value.
8 Upholstery Detailing
If you have a bay boat, cruisers, or center console with plenty of seating, it’s a good idea to maintain the upholstery from time to time. Mold can grow in between the cushions on the seats and underneath them.
Severely fouled upholstery requires replacement, and it’s an inexpensive and effective upgrade that improves the boat’s looks in the eyes of other boaters and buyers.
Keep the mold away by detailing the upholstery on the seats and seat cushions every other month. Please make sure you spray it down with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal treatments before replacing it in the boat.
9 Storage and Organizers
There never seems to be enough storage on any boat, regardless of the model. Purchasing some low-cost plastic organizers from Amazon or your local Walmart is a great way to bring organization to your gear onboard your boat.
Install hanging hooks and bungee cords/nets and fit a few bookshelves to the living quarters of your berth for additional storage space.
10 Portable Head
Being out on the water and needing the toilet is a terrible experience when you’re miles from shore. Unless you feel like feeding the fish, you’re going to need to install a portable head on the boat.
Fortunately, you don’t need a huge amount of room to add a portable head to your boat. Most models over 18-feet with a front cuddy will have sufficient space for a portable toilet.
11 Cleaning Stations
This fishing accessory is common on fishing boats. However, if you’re fishing from a bowrider or center console, add a portable cleaning station to the boat.
It’s a great way to improve your fishing experience. Gut your catch and prepare your bait on the station, and keep the guts and mess away from the deck.
12 Insulated Coolers
There’s nothing like a refreshing ice-cold beverage on a sunny day out on the water. Some boats come with built-in coolers, but many dealers and manufacturers only offer it as an optional extra. Even worse, the OEM coolers often don’t feature any insulation.
As a result, your ice ends up melting too quickly in warm locations around Florida and the Gulf coast. With an aftermarket insulated cooler, you get the best temperature control for your beverages, your catch, and your ice.
Electronics Upgrades for Your Boat
13 USB Power Ports
There’s nothing worse than being out on the water, only to have your radio die on your, right as a storm is approaching. Never get caught without power again by installing USB charging ports on the captain’s console.
The ports are available in a wide range of configurations and mounting options, and they connect directly to your boat’s electrical system.
You don’t need to be an electrician to handle the installation, and it’s a simple, affordable upgrade to your boat, offering you plenty of practical utility out on the water.
- Multi Plug Outlet: Unique 3 Side Design Power Strip with 5 AC outlets and 4 USB ports(4.8A Total), compact size of 5.5*3.8*1.7 INCH. With built-in surge protector that meets most of your needs in life, allowing multiple devices to be charged simultaneously.
- Smart USB Charging Ports: The total output of 4 USB ports is 5V/4.8A, can auto-detect charged devices and deliver optimum fastest charging speed up to 5V/2.4A (max) each port, USB-C up to 3A. NOTE: The USB-C port doesn't support Macbook, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro or any other laptops which needs 9~22V charging voltage.
- Widely Spaced & Fast Installation: This power outlet with 5 AC outlets built-in 1680 Joules surge protector with 2.1 inches long space in between; Large spacing can charge 5 big plug at the same time without blocking; Just plug in for duplex outlet and décor outlet. And can use the screw included to secure it on duplex outlet.
- 5 AC Surge Protector Outlets: 3 level complementary Surge Protector Circuit which composed of TVS, MOV (metal oxide varistor), GDT (gas discharge tube), with minimum 1680J energy absorbing capacity, could protect your devices much more quickly. Fire-resistance shell with flame retardance at 1382℉ makes it more durable and longer lifetime. It truly provides great protection of your precious plugged-in devices.
- Our After Sale Service: ETL Certified, Our friendly and reliable customer service will respond to you within 24 hours. You can purchase with confidence, with our 30-day return and 12-month replacement.
14 WiFi Extenders
If you need to be online out on the water, consider buying a marine WiFi extender. These systems help you stay connected when you’re out at sea or out on the lake, allowing you full access to the internet from your vessel.
Share photos of your catch, live stream your wakeboarding, and chat with friends on your favorite social media and messaging apps without missing a beat.
Marine WiFi extenders offer simple installation on any boat, and they work by amplifying cell signals to your phone, connecting you to the internet from almost any location.
15 Solar Panels
Why take the risk of running out of power when you’re out on the water. If you have a cabin cruiser or yacht you intend on using for island hopping, we recommend installing solar panels for your battery bank. Solar charging ensures that your system is always topped up and ready for action.
Solar panel technology continues to innovate, creating compact, affordable panels that effectively charge deep cell batteries, providing a sufficient trickle charge, even in low-light conditions.
The panels are easy to install yourself and wire into the boat’s electrical system without the need for professional assistance.
- Perfect for off grid 12 volt batteries charging system and a variety of DC applications, designed for maintaining 12 volt batteries in car, RVs, cabins, boats, marine, battery operated gates, back-up power and remote power use.
- Solar panel kits, package included 20 watts solar panel, 12V/24V solar charger regulator controller and two 6.5ft cable with alligator clips and O-ring terminal for battery charging connection, easy to fix and install.
- With the 10A solar charger controller, it can prevent the battery from over charge, over voltage, discharge and short circuit, reversed polarity protection, battery is fully protected.
- Small in size and light to take, it is easy to carry for camping or other outdoor activities. Easy to install with pre-drilled holes on the back of panels for fast mounting and securing.
- Built with strong tempered glass and aluminum frame.12 months worry-free warranty
16 Sound System
Everyone deserves a sound system on their boat. If you enjoy hanging out with friends on your vessel or wakeboarding, then adding a speaker system and mp3 player to your boat is a great way to bring the party to the water.
There are dozens of speaker and amplifier setups and configurations from leading brands like Sony, Rockford-Fosgate, and more. Upgrade the marine radio while you’re at it and get a handheld system that’s compact and user-friendly.
17 Deck LED Lighting Kits
Create an ambiance onboard your boat with a set of LED lighting strips. These strips light up the deck, ensuring that no one trips over the gear and other objects in low light conditions. They also add a mellow tone to the boat and an air of mystery when you’re out on the water at night.
These strips are easy to install. Fit the wires to the side of the edges around the side of the boat, and they give you a great lighting effect from a concealing position with no visible cables hanging in the way.
Link the lights to your battery panel, and you’re ready to go. The LEDs consume next to no electricity, and they offer you the most energy-efficient method of bringing light to your boat.
- Smart app control, ir remote control: The 100 feet led strip lights support both app apollo lighting and 24 keys ir remote for control, which allow you change the led lights color and modes are conveniently for bedroom, ceiling, kitchen, living room, bar and party decoration
- Easy installation: The led strip lights 100 feet, 2 rolls of 50 feet, ultra long is enough to reach around your entire bedroom and light up the whole home for party, wedding indoor
- Music sync: Led lights strip color changing sync to music by smart phone with App, make your party up to the high peak, light up your life and makes life more colorful and wonderful
- Smart timing settings: With timer function, the rgb led strip lights allow you to pre set time to turn on off led lights and change color at certain times, just enjoy it in a smart way
- Led lights features: Our 5050 rgb led chips （540 leds） allows the led lights to be very colorful and durable; The remote can dim the led light strip and offer different colors and modes by remote
18 Underwater LED Boat Lights
You also have the option of installing underwater LED lighting on the boat’s underside. These lights come in various colors and RBG options for a spectacular underwater lighting effect.
The light coming through the water from under the boat creates an eerie effect that looks mesmerizing. The LEDs are easy to secure to any vessel and easy to maintain. Like the strip LED lights for your deck, these LEDs consume very little electricity.
Exterior Upgrades for Your Boat
19 Duck Blind
If you’re a keen fisherman, then you’ll love a duck blind for your Jon or bass boat. These blinds act like camouflage drop nets that conceal your position and the look of your boat from the game in the area.
The nets feature a design with specialized materials to look like organic material and fool the local bird population into thinking you are just an inanimate object.
You have several options for colors and pattern designs and duck blinds to suit any size or fishing boat model.
20 Smart Tabs
A bowrider boat is plenty of fun for use on calm waters. However, if you want to go offshore on a windy day, the boat lacks stabilization in the rough water you get from other boats. The lightweight design of the boat makes it bounce over waves rather than cut through them.
As a result, you get an uncomfortable ride that’s brutal on your buttocks. Installing smart tabs on your bowrider can make all the difference in ride quality in rough waters. They are easy to install, and you need about an hour to complete the job.
21 Grab Bars
If you’re keen on deep-sea fishing, there will be those times where you’re fighting game fish and wondering if they are going to pull you clear of the deck.
Installing grab bars around the sides of the boat helps you prevent yourself from landing in the drink. They also make it easier to get back into the boat if you fall overboard.
22 Wake Tower and Bimini Top
If you’re keen on watersports, then wakeboarding is one of the best pastimes you can enjoy out on the water. Wakeboarding is thrilling, but it requires specialist gear. Your boat will need a wakeboard tower to allow the rider to maneuver from one side of the wake to the other.
Wakeboard towers are available in several configurations, and some even come with built-in stereo speakers. A Bimini top is essential for providing you and your passengers with shade on hot days. When you’re out on the water, the sunlight intensifies, and you’ll catch a sunburn fast.
A Bimini Top ensures that everyone stays out of the sun, providing them with a relaxing experience out on the water. Biminis are available in a range of sizes and designs to suit any boat model and length.
23 Propeller Upgrades
If you’re a wakeboarder or interested in performance boat racing, you need the right propeller to handle the task. Specialized props are available for wakeboarding, producing a bigger wake that makes for better ramps and wake surfing.
Similarly, there are props designed to provide optimal propulsion to the vessel, pushing it through the water at the fastest speed possible.
Prop technology can also affect your boat’s fuel consumption, allowing you to save on the fuel costs associated with running your boat throughout the year.
24 Anchor Winch
After a hard day of fishing offshore, you probably have minimal arm strength left to pull up the anchor and head home. Fortunately, an anchor winch offers you a convenient way to claim the anchor without using any effort.
You have options for electric or mechanical models using gears to reduce the effort required to withdraw the anchor.
25 Electric Trailer Winch
When pulling the boat from the water, a trailer winch reduces the effort required to trailer the vessel. A trailer winch is a must-have item if you have a boat over 12-feet, weighing more than 400-lbs.
We recommend you go with an electric winch to avoid the manual winch arm causing knuckle-busting effects if something goes wrong when withdrawing the boat from the water.
26 Replace Wing Nuts
Sailing on the ocean is fun, but it results in plenty of bumps and vibrations moving through the boat’s structural frame.
These vibrations pass through all boat components, and they even pass through you without you realizing it in most cases.
These small vibrations can undo wingnuts on batteries and other components throughout the boat. We recommend replacing all wingnuts with locknuts to ensure they stay tight.
27 Keel Coating and Protection
The keel is susceptible to faster rates of fouling than the hull. It also requires protection from knocks and scrapes underwater.
Keel guards feature construction with strong polymers, covering the boat’s keel and protecting it from any contact with objects.
A keel guard is easy to install, and it’s relatively inexpensive considering the protection it provides and the amount of maintenance it saves the average yacht owner.
Set your boat apart from all the others in the marina with a set of custom graphics. You have options for a genuine livery or vinyl graphics set that are simple to install. There are thousands of graphics kits available from designers online.
You get model-specific graphics kits and universal kits that fit any boat. You can choose from OEM kits that feature classic designs to the wildest anime and intricate graphics kits. Give your vessel a unique design flair and a set of graphics that make it stand out from the crowd.
29 Windscreen Tinting
When you’re sailing into the sun on a bright day, the sunlight can reflect off the water. The effect makes it challenging to see through the glare, even if you’re wearing sunglasses.
Tinting the windshield provides your console dashboard with protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays, and it allows you to avoid the glare off the water when driving the boat.
30 Boarding Ramps
If you’re finishing your dive, hauling yourself from the water after a dive is more challenging than it looks. If you struggle with pulling yourself over the edge of the boat, opt for a boarding ladder you can drop into the water.
Boarding ladders feature design and construction with corrosion-resistant materials, and they come in models to suit any boat design.
Top models from manufacturing brands like JIF Marine Products and Extreme Max are your best options. These lightweight ladders are compact and easy to store away until your need them.
31 Trolling Motor
There are times when that large outboard motor gets in the way. If you’re fishing the flats, then the propellor churns with cloud the water with silt and scares off the fish with the noise.
However, a trolling motor offers you a low-power engine that is ideal for use in the flats and shallows in estuaries and lakes.
The trolling motor is easy to set up as a temporary engine for the vessel. It’s lightweight and produces very little noise.
32 Weather Cover
Keep your paint and graphics looking great for years. Reduce cracking on your dashboard during the storage of your boat with a weather cover.
Adding a cover to your boat is essential for preventing the sun’s UV rays from fading the paint and graphics.
The cover also prevents pests like spiders, wasps, and other critters from setting up shop in your boat while it’s not in use. Covers are available in a range of colors and designs to suit any model or size of boat.
- 25'-28'L to 96” BEAM WIDTH: This waterproof protective boat cover is used universally for pontoon boats. Works with 25'-28'L beam width to 96” pontoon boats. Its full cut allows extra room for accessories such as bow rails, running lights, etc
- INCLUDES STORAGE BAG: Made of high strength polyester Hurricane fabric designed for extra durability and all-weather protection as well as rugged heavy duty safe storage. The cover also comes w/ a storage bag for portability and safe keeping
- WEATHER-RESISTANT: Features marine grade fabric coating technology and heavy duty fabric for maximum weather resistance and repellency. With an adjustable transom flap and an elastic cord sewn into the bottom hem that provides a tight and custom fit
- INTEGRATED STRAP SYSTEM: Equipped w/ integrated buckle and strap system for easy fitting and trailering, adjustable straps snap into quick-release buckles on the cover. Rope attaches to rugged non-scratch D-rings, no grommets to pull out or scratch