Boat on a Boat Lift by the lake

What Is a Boat Lift and Why You Need It

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Many boat owners are unaware of why boat lifts are important to keep on their property. In this guide, we will describe and talk about the different types of boat lifts.

We’ll go through why it is good to have one and what features to look for. With this information, you will soon be able to understand why having a boat lift will make your life much easier.

Table of Contents

What is a Boat Lift?

Boat lifts are necessary to get your boat in and out of the water. The systems that are used for boat lifts are either hydraulic lifting systems or motorized systems.

A boat lift is important if you want to get your boat in and out of the water efficiently and preserve its life expectancy.


There are many different types of boat lifts that you can use for your boat. There are four popular types of boat lifts.

These types are known as boathouse lifts, floating lifts, free-standing lifts, and pile mount lifts.

Boathouse Lift

Boathouse lifts are usually built into the docks on your property. They use a pulley system to carry your boat through the air and lower it into the water.

The overhead structure of the boathouse lift is what provides most of the support. It is normally used with a hydraulic system for efficiency.

Boathouse lifts work well for homeowners who do not have any other place to dock their boat safely.

Floating Lift

A floating lift is a type of boat lift that allows you to get your boat onto the dock and keep your boat out of the water without having to use a pulley system in the process.

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Floating lifts do not usually require much maintenance and can protect your boat from possible risks of corrosion.

Floating lifts are often used by rental companies because of how quick and easy they are to use in comparison to most traditional boat lifts, especially for lighter boats.

Free-standing Lift

A free-standing lift is one that is built into the ground and can be built on either land or water.

Free-standing lifts often work on a hydraulic lift system, but they can also work on crank systems and electrical systems.

You can drive your boat onto a free-standing lift if it is built in the water. Alternatively, you can lay your boat on the lift yourself if it is built on land.

Pile Mount Lift

Pile mount lifts are built onto the piling of a dock where a firm base can support the lift.

Pile mount lifts are designed to lift and hold heavier weights securely. They can hold your boat out of water.

This type of lift is good for whenever you need to keep your boat high above the water to keep it dry. For example, in high tide, so your boat does not get submerged by accident.

pontoon boat lift by a dock on a sunny day

Why do You Need It?

Keeping Your Boat Safe and Dry

Boat lifts are necessary for getting your boat in and out of the water. They help to protect your boat while giving it a safe and secure place to dock it when you are not using it.

Keeping your boat in the water while it is not in use for an extended period may cause corrosion or extra damage.

Additionally, giving your boat a secure area to store may offer you extra peace of mind.

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Keeping your boat lifted will also help reduce the amount of maintenance you will have to do to keep it in good working condition.

While it will not eliminate the need for overall maintenance, a boat lift will still be able to make the process of maintenance much easier.

Preventing Scratches and Dents

Securing your boat on a boat lift will prevent your boat from scratching or getting dented from swinging back and forth in place.

Preventing damage to your boat will ensure that it will remain durable for a more extended period.

Boat lifts will also help your boat remain stable while you are getting into it, which will also protect it from receiving damage while in use.

Boat lift on dock by a long lake pier

Good Features to Search For

Electric or Manual?

A boat lift is either operated manually or electrically, and both require different processes to use them.

Electrically operated boat lifts will need a power source and are controlled by remote control. Manual boat lifts will require you to operate it by hand. But they are more affordable than an electric boat lift.

It is the alternative option if you don’t have access to a power source to run an electric one.

Account for Different Types of Water

Your boat lift must be constructed according to the water conditions it will be in.

For example, you will need it to be made out of stainless steel materials to prevent corrosion in saltwater areas.

Boat lifts are made out of either galvanized steel or aluminum. You will need to make sure they are capable of handling the water conditions.

Sturdy Pulleys

You will want to make sure that your boat lift is constructed with sturdy pulleys that will be able to hold, lift and transport your boat.

Every time you use your boat lift, the pulley system will be strained.

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As a result, keep a constant check on your pulley system to see how well it is holding up under the weight of your boat.

Water Levels

Consider the water levels in the area you want to place your lift. It will determine what type of style your boat lift should be.

Cradle style boat lifts are better for higher levels of water while sling-style boat lifts are better suited for more shallow waters.

Boat lift by a lake house

How to Use It

Lowering the Boat

The boat lift will be able to place your boat on the water. Use the power switch to lower your boat safely and slowly into the water. Once your boat is on the water, turn the switch off.

Driving the Boat off of the Lift

Getting your boat off the lift may require two people. Have one person stationed near the lift while you steer the boat slowly and safely off.

The lift will need to be lowered entirely before you move the boat.

Getting the Boat Back Onto the Lift

The boat lift will have to be lowered completely and prepared to have your boat securely placed onto it.

Drive safely onto the lift and place it in the right position to raise it once more. Turn off your motor as soon as your boat has been placed securely back onto the lift.

Raising the Boat

Turn on the power switch to raise your boat back up. Exit the boat along with any passengers safely and make sure the boat has been raised safely.


Now you are aware of the importance of boat lifts and know how to use them. Use boat lifts effectively to protect your boats from damage or possible corrosion when you are not using it.

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