February 29, 2024

Custom Boat Lifts: Design & Installation Guide

Custom Boat Lifts: Design & Installation Guide

Written by ShoreMaster Marketing

Guide to Custom Boat Lifts for Your Waterfront Lifestyle

The only thing that offers better protection for your vessel than a boat lift is one that’s customized to your unique needs. Below, we explore the world of custom boat lifts and help you navigate the process of designing the perfect docking solution for your waterfront lifestyle.

ShoreMaster Hydraulic Lift and PWC Lift and Infinity TS9 Dock with FlowThrough Decking

Understanding Custom Boat Lifts: An Overview

Custom boat lifts have revolutionized the way waterfront enthusiasts care for their vessels. Unlike one-size-fits-all solutions, custom boat lift models offer unparalleled flexibility. Custom boat lifts can adapt to various waterfront environments, from gentle slopes with soft bottoms to steep inclines with a rocky lake bed. Whether you have a specific dock layout, require specific features, or own a non-standard watercraft, these customized solutions offer the utmost flexibility. 

Designing Your Custom Boat Lift: Key Considerations

Before diving into the design process, consider these crucial factors:

  • Boat specifications: This includes the vessel’s size, weight, hull type, and draft. For instance, pontoon boat lifts require a longer, wider design to provide optimal support. 
  • Waterfront characteristics: Water depth, tidal fluctuations, wave action, and ice potential will influence the lift’s design and construction materials.  
  • Usage patterns: Heavy usage requires robust construction and reliable mechanisms to withstand wear and tear over time. Conversely, seasonal use requires features such as corrosion-resistant materials to endure extended exposure to the elements during off-seasons.  
  • Budget: PWC boat lifts generally cost less than dry-docking solutions for larger vessels. Setting a realistic budget upfront will guide the design process more efficiently. 

Finally, check local regulations or restrictions regarding dock and lift structures to ensure your desired design complies. 

Selecting Materials and Features for Your Boat Lift

Once you sort the foundational aspects, it’s time to personalize your lift. Here are some key considerations:


  • Aluminum: Lightweight, low-maintenance, and rust-resistant, aluminum lifts are popular with freshwater environments. 
  • Galvanized steel: Stronger and more durable than aluminum, suitable for saltwater and heavier boats. 
  • Stainless steel: The ultimate in durability and corrosion resistance, this material is ideal for demanding environments. 


  • Lifting mechanism: Choose between hydraulic or cable systems based on your boat’s weight, desired lifting speed, and budget. ShoreMaster’s vertical hydraulic boat lift combines the speed and convenience of hydraulic boat lifts with the adaptability to various conditions that vertical boat lifts provide. 
  • Bunking systems: These specialized support systems provide additional support, minimizing stress on the vessel’s hull during storage. 
  • Canopy systems: A custom boat lift canopy prevents UV rays from damaging the boat’s exterior, including the hull, paint, and upholstery. It also keeps rainwater, moisture, and debris from accumulating on the boat, minimizing the risk of mold, mildew, and corrosion. 

ShoreMaster boat lifts set the industry standard for reliability and performance. Contact your local dealer today to learn about customizing your boat lift for the unique needs of your vessel and waterfront. 

Installation Tips for Custom Boat Lifts

We recommend getting professional help rather than taking the DIY approach, as the latter can void some manufacturer warranties. 

With that said, here are some tips:

  • Prepare the installation site: Ensure the area is clear, accessible, and properly leveled. 
  • Obtain the necessary permits: Check local regulations regarding waterfront construction and permits. 
  • Hire a qualified installer: Look for certified professionals with experience in your specific waterfront environment. Proper installation is critical to the safety and longevity of your custom lift.

While ShoreMaster products are engineered for easy ownership, installation, and maintenance, custom lifts can require installation expertise to optimize performance. Our extensive dealer network across North America can handle the leg work so you can focus on enjoying your boating experience. 

Maintaining Your Custom Boat Lift: Best Practices

Regular maintenance is essential to prolong the life of your custom boat lift. Here are the basics:

  • Inspect the lift’s component for signs of wear and tear, addressing any issue promptly. 
  • Lubricate moving parts, check cables and pulleys, and ensure electrical components are in good working condition. 
  • Regularly clean the boat lift to prevent the accumulation of debris and marine growth.

Finally, schedule periodic professional inspections. This identifies potential problems early on, preventing costly repairs and ensuring hassle-free ownership. Contact your local dealer today to learn more about ShoreMaster’s custom boat lift solutions.