How long do boats last?

You know that boats generally float on water and stay in moist environments for most of their lifespan. Doesn’t that damage the boat’s life expectancy? How long do boats and yachts last, on average?

In this article, we answer all your questions regarding the average lifespan of a boat based on the different types and materials used. Having done all the research from multiple sources, we can guide you on properly caring for your boat and increasing its longevity.

Boat Life Expectancy

The standard boat life span is between 10 and 50 years. However, some boats can outlive this period depending on how they are used and how well they are maintained. The boat’s engine normally dies before the boat itself; gas engines last for around 1,500 hours before needing major repairs, while the diesel engine can run for 5,000 to 8,000 on average under the same conditions.

Parts Maintenance

When it comes to watercraft, every part is subject to wear and tear and thus needs to be maintained. The primary groups are the hull, engine, electrical systems, moving parts, plumbing, and upholstery. Not every boat has all of these parts, but they are common.

  • Plumbing and electrical systems require periodic maintenance to ensure their effectiveness and prevent accidents.
  • Upholstery and moving parts are similar in that they don’t require frequent maintenance, though basic care such as cleaning makes a huge difference.
  • The engine is one of the most important parts of a boat and calls for regular maintenance. Basic checks and maintenance need to be done on the engine before and after sailing the boat, such as using the right fuel, protecting the battery, and ensuring no corrosion.
  • The hull is one of the simplest parts to maintain but is the one you will likely spend most of your time on. Hull maintenance involves cleaning, polishing, waxing, painting, and gel coat repair.

How Long Do Boats Last?

To answer how long boats typically last, it is important to look at the type of boat material used, whether it’s operated in freshwater or saltwater, and how well you maintain it. When properly used and maintained, some larger vessels can last for around 75 to 100 years.

On the other hand, poorly maintained boats may not even last up to 5 years. The average lifespan of a boat is between 10 and 50 years, but this longevity is not possible without ongoing and constant repair, maintenance, and refit.

Why would it matter how long boats live?

Knowing the lifespan of a boat is important for many reasons; perhaps you are wondering if boats are a good investment or if old boats are worth buying. There’s nothing more disheartening than investing in something only to have it break down after a short time. Knowing a boat’s expected life will help determine if it can stay sea-worthy long enough to achieve your goals.

Boat longevity by type:

Different boat types have different life expectancies, but numerous factors impact their longevity. These include the material they are made of and how they are used and maintained. The table below highlights the boat materials’ expected average life span.

Boat MaterialAverage Life Span
Aluminum Boat15 to 30 years
Fiberglass Boat10 to 25 years
Pontoon Boat10 to 20 years
Wood Boat10 to 25 years

How Long Do Aluminum Boats Last?

On average, aluminum boats can last anywhere between 15 and 30 years. However, lifespan can differ from 5 to even 75 years depending on whether it is used in normal, brackish, or saltwater. Aluminum is one of the most popular materials used in boat construction since it is malleable, corrosion-resistant, and weighs less than steel and fiberglass-made boats. A lower weight increases the boat’s speed and performance and decreases fuel consumption.

However, aluminum is softer, making it prone to abrasion, dents, and scratches. Rivets are another common issue that suffers damage over time, and their surrounding area can start leaking. 

How Long Do Wood Boats Last?

The average life expectancy of a wooden boat is between 10 and 25 years, but it can go as high as 30 years. Wood is very cost-efficient, so it continues to be used in boat construction. It represents benefits like easy workability, positive buoyancy, strength, and treatability.

Wood can also withstand a sudden impact and expands and contracts without rupture. Lastly, wooden boats are perfect for heat insulation, easy-fitting, and drilling holes. However, wood boats are susceptible to rot, cracking, shrinkage, and swelling and thus require regular maintenance.

How Long Do Fiberglass Boats Last?

Fiberglass boats can last approximately 10 to 25 years on average. It is a type of plastic reinforced with glass fiber, making it durable and cost-effective. Fiberglass boats are more corrosion-resistant than boats made from other materials. Since no metal is used in the water-exposed hull, corrosion is not common.

However, the absence of metal also makes these boats more prone to UV damage, movement fatigue, and saltwater damage. The good news is that fiberglass boats are easier to maintain than other materials such as aluminum and steel. Since corrosion is not a prevalent problem, the maintenance of fiberglass boats gets cut down in half: the only required maintenance is related to marine growth on the hull.

How Long Do Pontoon Boats Last?

A pontoon boat can last 10 to 20 years, providing regular maintenance is proactively done. Maintenance generally includes cleaning and repainting the aluminum tubes once every year as required.

In general, pontoon boats tend to depreciate quicker than other boats, losing around 25 to 30% after a couple of years and then consistently declining until the tenth year.

Which Boats Last the Longest?

Boat durability depends on various factors, including the material used and if it is regularly maintained. Another key aspect that can significantly affect a boat’s life span is whether it’s used in saltwater or freshwater. It is crucial to know which boat type is best for saltwater and freshwater so you can make the most out of your investment.


Saltwater is corrosive and will eat away the metal and paint of the tubes. It can also cause marine growth and damage to the engine parts.


Freshwater contains fewer abrasive agents than saltwater. However, keeping your boat in freshwater for long periods without properly drying the tubes can result in slime and algae growth. Thorough cleaning is necessary to prevent moisture from blistering paint and inducing other damage types.

Why Is Boat Maintenance Important? | Easiest Boat to Maintain

Proper boat maintenance is the correct way to extend its components’ longevity and minimize engine corrosion or even failure. Boat upkeep must follow all prevention and safety regulations, which can help achieve optimal reliability throughout all systems. Besides major repairs, a boat owner must ensure the fuel lines and battery are in good shape.

Fiberglass boats are the easiest to maintain since they are corrosion-resistant due to the absence of metal. Corrosion is essentially boat cancer; minimizing or eliminating it can significantly reduce maintenance costs. However, irrespective of your boat material, you can take certain measures to increase the longevity of your vessel.

  1. Wash your boat regularly with fresh water to get rid of saltwater buildup, which can be very corrosive to your boat and its components.
  2. Service your engine at least once every year. Pay close attention to new or peculiar vibrations or sounds to take proactive measures.
  3. Check your battery every season and your fuel lines 4 times each year.
  4. Inspect the hull for any visible signs of damage.
  5. Check your oil 3 to 4 times a year.

TAXES: Asset life of a boat

Boats are an asset that depreciates for anywhere from 7 to 10 years after purchase. When it comes to taxes and determining the asset life of your recreational boat, it is critical to know the depreciation rate and compare that with the actual life expectancy of the vessel.

How Long Do Yachts last?

On average, the life expectancy of a yacht is between 5 to 20 years. The type of yacht determines its longevity, how often it is used, the material it’s constructed from, and if it is properly cared for. Wood and fiberglass are two of the most common yacht-building materials, so you need to understand which will last the longest depending on your needs and whether you will sail the boat in freshwater or saltwater.


In this article, we talked about the average life expectancy of a boat based on its construction material, how it’s used, and whether it’s operated in freshwater or saltwater. We also discussed regular maintenance’s role in increasing boat durability and the different ways to do so.

Knowing the average life span of a boat is a critical factor to consider when investing in an old boat, along with doing a thorough background check. If you want instant and immediate access to a boat’s history, visit

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