Now that you’ve decided replacing boat flooring is the way to go, it’s always a good idea to take the help of some excellent and valuable guides. You can hire a professional to redo your boat flooring as several professionals in the market can do the job at a reasonable price. On the other hand, doing it all by yourself will help to save a few bucks.
The process of replacing the boat flooring includes the following parts:
- Choosing the appropriate flooring.
- Gathering the required tools.
- Following how-to guide steps to replace the flooring.
If you’re cautious about proper flooring reinstallation, you’ve reached the right place. This article is all about replacing the boat’s flooring, so keep reading it until the end for lots of valuable information.
Boat Flooring Replacement Options
Here are a few boat floor replacement options to consider when replacing your boat’s floor. (source)
- Aluminum For Replacing Boat Flooring
Aluminum has several advantages over wood (though wood isn’t a bad option either). It’s straightforward to install, and the maintenance is relatively cheaper. Aluminum is lighter and more durable than wood, so you can easily make your boat lighter without compromising its overall strength.
Unfortunately, you can’t just use the regular aluminum (used in the windows, etc.) as that will make your boat floor very slippery. The boat market sells different types of aluminum, especially for this purpose. Additionally, aluminum flooring might not look much appealing.
- Fiberglass For Repairing Boat Flooring
Replacing fiberglass boat floor is messy, but a job you can do yourself. You can consider the cost of fiberglass to be average (neither expensive nor cheap). Fiberglass can suit any flooring design. It’s very flexible (in terms of applicability) and can make the floor smooth.
Sadly, fiberglass can break easily, so you’ll have to be cautious about not accidentally damaging the flooring. Even though that makes the maintenance level high, the cost of each maintenance session isn’t that high though. Cleaning it will be time-consuming and requires regular cleaning.
It is the most popular option for boat flooring. Wood proves to be pretty durable and offers an appealing touch to the floor. It doesn’t require much maintenance and cleaning as well. There are several types of wood you can use to replace your boat’s bottom. For instance, oak is the best choice as it features water resistance properties.
However, any good quality wood which offers durability also costs more. The wood flooring fades away sooner, so you’ll have to spend on maintenance to revive its shine and gloss.
It is another cheap and reliable option for your boat flooring. It’s just like wood, but less costly and less durable. Several plywood options include-
- Marine Plywood
involves a unique production process in withstanding moisture, hence marine plywood. It’s available in various appearances, dimensions, and grades. These are the different marine plywood grades. (source)
In my experience, marine plywood is the best material for boat floor replacement. But I’m a woodworking kind of guy. Fiberglass is also pretty good if you don’t mind working with it.
- MDO (Medium-Density Overlay)
- HDO (High-Density Overlay)
- Pressure-Treated aka Outdoor Grade Plywood
involves a different production process for it to be resistant to weather damage. The chemical treatment makes it green-colored and insoluble in water, which reduces water absorption.
- Rubber Mat
Anti-slippery rubber mats target boat floors. They’re resistant to water but require protection from fire. Rubber mats have decent durability and are available at a low to average price. You can install the rubber mats over the primary flooring (such as wood, aluminum, etc.) to enhance the boat’s appearance.
Replacing boat floor and carpet is easier than you think. Marine carpet is another flooring option to install over the primary flooring. There’s a huge variety of fancy mats available in the market. They aren’t much durable and require regular cleaning. Furthermore, they’re vulnerable to fire accidents, but since they’re cheap, changing the carpet (like once or twice a year) can renew your boat’s appearance.
Step By Step Guide
|Sandpaper/ Orbital Sander
Replacing The Boat Flooring
Now that you’ve finalized the flooring material, it’s the installation time. (source)
- First, remove all the seats and anything fixed to the floor.
- Make sure to disconnect the wiring. Cut off the power supply to avoid electrical accidents.
- You’re now safe to remove the old flooring. Before removing:
- Leave a 3-inches trim on the boat’s edges. That way, you can ensure that you don’t accidentally puncture the edges. Also, the trimmed part will offer great support to the new flooring since it’s attached to the boat’s framework.
- Make a note of the existing screw holes in the boat. You can put the screws back into those holes after installing the new flooring.
- Carefully measure the new flooring pieces by using the old flooring as a template as much as possible. If that’s not possible, take the measuring tape or use any other method conveniently.
- If you’re installing wooden flooring, you can soak the wooden pieces in epoxy to make them water-resistant. It is an optional part, as we’ve covered another “sealing the wooden flooring” guide up next.
- The wooden flooring pieces can be glued together with the marine glue because it’s waterproof hence the name marine glue. This way, you can avoid screws to some extent.
- After installing the screws wherever necessary to fix the flooring. Place the screws in the previously drilled holes (for the old flooring).
- Install all the seats and any other equipment you removed in the first step. Rewire all the electrical stuff.
Sealing The Wooden Flooring
Since wood and plywood are vulnerable to damage from weather, moisture, and water (no matter how well chemically treated), it’s always a good idea to seal them. Follow the steps below to secure the flooring with any sealant. (source)
- Smoothen the flooring with sandpaper or run an orbital sander on the wooden surface.
- Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the sawdust.
- Pour sealant into a paint tray. The sealant quantity should be 2 inches thick on the boat surface.
- Use a paint roller and roll it on the surface to apply the sealant to the entire flooring. Let it dry for at least 6 hours.
- Since one coat isn’t enough, repeat the process every 6 hours to achieve a thick-coated layer on the boat’s surface.
Precautions (Mistakes To Avoid) When Replacing Boat Flooring
There are a few mistakes that most people make when replacing the boat flooring. To avoid a bitter floor-changing experience, why not cover that stuff. (source)
- Resolving The Rot
The boat floor often rots due to moisture and water (which is natural). If you encounter any rot on the floor, scrub it off, or else it’ll spread. Generally, a boat floor starts rotting because of the mold. Resolving the corrosion caused by mold by cleaning it off in the early stage can help prevent further damage to the floor.
Next, you can’t just leave the floor as it is after cleaning. The best way to fix this issue is to replace the wood portion.
- Never Use The Nails
Most people nail the boat floor without having second thoughts. Boat floors are NOT SUITABLE FOR NAILS. Nails in a boat floor weaken the structure dramatically, and you’re degrading the boat’s longevity without realizing it. The best and the recommended method is to drill the holes with a drilling machine and drive the screws.
Screws’ grooves give a better grip than nails of the same length. Also, the nails require a lot of force to be pushed in. Nails create spaces from where the water can quickly get into the boat.
But in case you can’t avoid nails, then it’s recommended to use wood putty and epoxy on the nails. That way, it’ll cover any gaps made by the nails and also protects them from rusting, which could further damage the floor in the long run.
- Avoid Using Wrong Materials
You must ensure that the epoxy you’re using (you could soak the wood or coat the flooring) is waterproof. There’s a fair chance that you might be accidentally using the non-water-resistant epoxy, which will put all your efforts in vain.
Do I Need To Replace Boat Floor?
That’s a question you might want to ask yourself before deciding to replace the boat floor. Since the task requires a lot of time, energy, and patience, you might want to think of an alternative. Also, there are relatively high chances of messing up and ruining the entire project. It’s good to hire a professional to inspect the boat to determine whether you need to replace the boat flooring entirely or partially or do the patchwork.
- If the floor has rotten severely, it probably needs to be replaced. If rotten partially, then replace the affected part.
- Inspect the flooring to determine whether or not an epoxy coating would be enough.
- There’s no need to replace the floor entirely in case of a minor leak(s) or partially damaged floor. A simple patchwork might be sufficient.
By the end of this article, you must have learned the basic mistakes that most people make while repairing the boat flooring. The report also covered the step-by-step guide to replacing the floor and sealing the wooden flooring. We’ve also suggested a few flooring options. We’re confident that you’re good to get started with your boat flooring replacement.
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Even More From Boating Guide:
- Dustin Camilleri, “3 Types of Boat Flooring”, DoItYourself, November 9, 2010, https://www.doityourself.com/stry/3-types-for-boat-flooring
- Lisa Hallett Taylor, “What Is Marine-Grade Plywood?”, The Spruce, November 10, 2021, https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-marine-grade-plywood-2736672
- Gone Outdoors, “How to replace a floor in a boat?” https://goneoutdoors.com/replace-floor-boat-5170038.html
- Kelly Sundstrom, 3/“How to Seal A Plywood Floor”, Home Steady, September 26, 2017, https://homesteady.com/how-7937555-seal-plywood-floor.html
- “Four Mistakes to Avoid When Repairing a Rotting Boat Floor”, DoItYourself, October 4, 2010, https://www.doityourself.com/stry/4-mistakes-to-avoid-when-repairing-a-rotting-boat-floor