The right flooring material can give you the best boating experience. It will protect your boat for longer durations. It also adds style to the boat, boosting the overall appearance. The market is flooded with a variety of options to choose from. In this article we will deal with those options of boat flooring materials so as to ease your search.
How to Choose Your Boat Flooring?
The market is flooded with many options when it comes to boat flooring materials. Choosing the right boat flooring material is a tough task. You need to look into several aspects before arriving at the best.
You have to look for durable boat flooring materials which can last longer. Occasional maintenance can add to the cost. The boat flooring option should also have the adequate strength and toughness. Look for slip resistant surfaces so that your safety is ensured. Materials with anti fatigue properties can also be helpful for many, when you are out in the water for those long hours. UV resistant materials can last longer without fading from Sun exposure. Aesthetics can also be important for many, so that you get the beautiful look for the deck which can in turn add beauty to the boat. Some flooring materials can also be noisy. This can be unpleasant. There are also no sound options of boat flooring which can be sought for. Easy to maintain and clean flooring materials can make your work easier. Budget is something which can govern the buying power and choice of many. There is an option for every budget. There are high end, medium budget and low budget options of flooring. So there is not much to worry. You can have the one of your choice.
You can also go for a combination of different flooring materials so that it best serves the purpose for which it is used.
Boat Flooring Materials
The bottom most part of the deck would either be of wood, fiberglass or stainless steel above which we have the actual flooring on which you stand, walk, etc. This provides sufficient protection to the bottom layer. The boat flooring can be permanent or temporary based on the user choice. There are a wide variety of options you can have as boat flooring materials. Let us see them and analyze each one of them.
Wood can be considered as the traditional choice of boat flooring material, which has been in the market for a really long period of time. Being a natural material, if you maintain wooden flooring properly, then they can last longer without troubling you much. They should be able to overcome the wet and humid surroundings.
Some of the most common hardwood materials used as boat flooring is given below:
- Oak – strength, durability, flexibility, water resistant
- Cedar- superior rot resistance, stability and strength
- Teak- looks good, weathers well and can last longer if properly maintained
- Mahogany- classic and beautiful look, great against elements, high resistance to shrinkage, easy to work with
- Spruce- high strength with long straight grain
- Fir- strength, durability, attractiveness and rot resistance
- Ash- grain similar to oak, visually appealing, but not easy to work with
- Marine-grade plywood- high resistance to water, fungus and damp
Oak is the usually recommended by most builders. However, being oily it can be difficult to apply epoxy. Many also consider mahogany to be the best when it comes to boat flooring. Marine grade plywood is most common nowadays. They are easily available and also come at an affordable price point.
However, there are some disadvantages associated with wooden flooring. Genuine hardwood is expensive. There are synthetic alternatives which come at a much lower price. Also, it can fade over time and can require periodic touch ups which add to the expenses. It can also be slippery unless you use slip resistant materials to give a finishing touch. It may not be the best choice if you are looking for anti fatigue properties. Wooden boat flooring can also rot over prolonged time. They require extremely good maintenance so as to last longer. However, they can be used for making boat cabins and their interior floors.
Canvas is also a boat flooring material which has been in use since ages. Most old boats have canvas as the upper deck flooring material. The water resistant material being breathable to some extend can also be used in bimini tops and covers. It can be considered as a classical boat flooring material which comes in different colors giving an aesthetically pleasing appearance. It is well suited for the wet and humid environment without mildew. Being flexible, it can fit different floor shapes and perfectly catch the contours. Canvas boat flooring can also be washed, repaired and reused. It is not expensive compared to wooden materials.
The canvas flooring will not last longer and it can get stretchy over time. They also have less chafe resistance and hence require chafe protection. Color fading is also prevalent.
For many years, carpet has remained a popular choice for boat flooring. It is quiet similar to household carpeting. However, the marine grade ones can withstand the elements while boating. They are more durable and water resistant when compared to household carpeting. Carpet is soft and comfortable to walk on. The carpet material can be made from wool, nylon, olefin, polypropylene or polyester with a backing material. These carpets are available in many colors and styles. There are Berbers which have twisted fibers and looped carpets with looped fibers. Looped carpets are way more durable and easier to clean. The look can be appealing. They offer great finish. Marine carpets are also cost effective and the cheapest option for boat flooring. Marine carpets offer you with good traction, so you can easily stabilize yourself on a moving boat. This can be especially useful when your feet are wet. They are mostly used indoors. However the durable ones can also be used for covering the whole deck.
However, carpet flooring can be prone to stains and it is also difficult to clean. Though marine carpets are water resistant, it can take up moisture over time which can cause damage. If not properly taken care of, they can also cause damage to the plywood deck underneath. Carpets are prone to mildew if not cared for properly. It can also absorb odors which can cause foul smells which can be unpleasant.
Marine grade aluminum flooring is also popular choice of boat decking. Being lightweight and durable, they are used in many boats, including fishing boats. They will not add a bulk to your vessel’s weight. They also require a little less effort in terms of maintenance. They are quiet inexpensive, making them an affordable option. They also offer good traction and thereby stability on a moving boat.
Now let us see some of the cons associated with this type of flooring. The aluminum flooring is not so aesthetically appealing .It can be somewhat noisy to walk on with your shoes. So in case of fishing boats, where there is constant movement of the passengers, this noise can be unpleasant. However, fishermen wearing flip flops will not be troubled. They do require a bit more maintenance especially when you are out in saltwater medium (Aluminum can cause galvanic corrosion). You can use freshwater and detergent to clean the aluminum flooring after user in saltwater medium.
Marine rubber flooring can last longer. It is also way cheaper compared to other marine flooring options. It is soft and supportive. It can relieve stress on the feet, knees and back. So they come with anti fatigue properties. Being slip resistant, it offers good stability. So passengers get added safety. They can also be available in different textures and color options.
However, rubber flooring is not aesthetically pleasing. These are also not UV resistant and can fade over time. They have the ability to trap heat and thus make you uncomfortable when out in the Sun for long hours. You may need to have proper maintenance and frequent checks to ensure that the rubber flooring is keeping up with the quality.
Vinyl flooring is another synthetic flooring option which is made from PVC (Poly Vinyl Carbon). These can be colored or textured and can be made to resemble a variety of materials like wood, ceramic, and stone. Being synthetic, it is cheaper. It is durable and easy to install. You can have a great time in your boat with the great look the vinyl flooring adds to your boat. This is the most common flooring type in larger boats. Vinyl flooring comes in the form of sheets, tiles, planks. They are easy to install. They are highly impermeable to water. Vinyl flooring options will not fade away with the exposure to sun. They come in different patterns with wide selection. There are also woven vinyl flooring options which come with textured finish, offering much more styles and color options which can also add to the aesthetics. These durable models can last longer if installed and maintained properly (about 10 to20 years). They can also create the right amount of friction underfoot so as to create an antiskid surface. It is soft and comfortable. You can add padding beneath for making it even softer. Vinyl flooring is sound resistant and hence good option for fishing boats. The vinyl flooring options are easy to clean and require less maintenance. You can use high pressure washer to clean the surface. The vinyl planks are reusable and can be re-installed. You can pull up the vinyl flooring to identify and prevent water seepage under the planks. You can also transfer it to other boats. The wet vinyl planks can also be air dried.
However, they are costly. But they are worthy for the money you spend. They also have the tendency to heat up when exposed to Sun for longer hours. With advancement in technology, there are vinyl flooring options like the Marine SeaGrass which absorb less heat. This can again add to the price.
PVC is a high-quality synthetic flooring option which is not that popular. They are not typically used in boat manufacturing industry. They are sort of do it yourself stuff. They are available in the form of tiles which can be fixed across the deck. The PVC flooring is durable and requires less maintenance. They are also fully waterproof. They can also be removed and replaced without much trouble. They come in different color options. There are options which can even mimic teak.
However, PVC flooring is not UV resistant. However, with advancement in technology, there are UV resistant models being evolved.
Specialty paints are water-resistant marine paints which can be coated on boat floors. When you lookout for less toxic options, then high quality acrylic boot floor paints can be the best choice. These water resistant boat floor paints are cheaper. They dry quickly and are also cleanable with water. It is the water based acrylic paints, which dry up much more quickly than the oil based ones. With fast drying, you get smooth finish as only less dust particles fall into the paint while it is undergoing the drying process. They do not flake easily. There is also no overbearing smell. They come in different finishes: satin and glossy. You can go for the one of your choice.
However, the specialty paints do have a shorter life span when compared to other boat flooring materials. They need to be reapplied occasionally, as and when needed. This makes up an additional expense. They can fade and crack due to constant Sun exposure.
EVA is made out of foam. It provides non-slip surface. This boat flooring material can be used on swim platforms or to cover the all other surfaces of the boat, even the hull sides. It also does not absorb water. They also feature shock absorbent properties. They provide good heat insulation and good cushioning.
However, they can stain easily and are prone to damages when cooler or anchor is drug across them. They may last only around 5 years or more with good maintenance.
So the market is indeed flooded with many options of boat flooring materials. Among them, vinyl flooring materials are gaining much popularity due to its durability, appearance, water resistance and easy installation and maintenance.