For yacht owners, keeping their boat ship-shape is of utmost importance and can be an ongoing task. One way to keep maintenance easy and low-cost is choosing the right materials with which to outfit your vessel. Besides the mechanism that powers the sailboat, the floor and especially the deck suffer the most wear-and-tear. Picking the best boat flooring options will help lower the cost of upkeep.A variety of boat deck flooring options are available, depending on the intended purpose of the boat. The boat designer or owner has to decide between form and function or strike a balance between the two.
For a more functional vessel like fishing or transport, a durable material is preferred. For a recreational sailboat, a material that offers comfort and is aesthetically pleasing would be a better option.Listed below are a few of the most widely used marine flooring options.
While wood is generally not what first comes to mind as a flooring material for a moisture-rich environment like a boat, certain types of wood are ideal for boat decking.
Wood, in general, is easier to craft into planks and fit together to create air-tight flooring. Two commonly used types of wood on boats are teak and plywood. They are among the most durable marine flooring options.
Teak wood is both water resistant due to its high oil content, and durable against salt water with the right finishing. It is also resistant to infestation by pests such as termites, cockroaches and rats. Its most attractive feature is its aesthetically pleasing appearance. It is a great choice for a yacht that is mainly used for recreation and events.
The downside of teak wood is the expense. It can be expensive to buy as well as maintain.
Plywood is inexpensive and durable but its disadvantage is that it is not attractive and requires frequent cleaning and plenty of maintenance.
Textile is another material that does not come to mind as a boat flooring option, but with the variety of water-resistant marine carpeting choices that are available these days, it is a preferred option for many reasons.
Carpet is easy to cut and fit into corners. It offers comfort, especially for family outings with children and pets. It is aesthetically pleasing and comes in a wide range of materials and colors. It mutes footsteps and could be a good decking option for fishing.
The downside to carpet is that it absorbs water and odors. It is susceptible to rot if not dried properly. It could fade with prolonged exposure to the sun and elements. This makes it a better option for boat interiors rather than decks.
Most varieties of carpet are inexpensive to buy, especially in bulk. But maintenance can be difficult as they need to be deodorized, and their stains are tough to clean. For these reasons, they may need to be replaced often as well.
Low maintenance marine vinyl flooring is becoming increasingly popular among custom boat designers and owners.
Vinyl comes in a variety of styles, textures and colors for custom boats. It is easy to cut and install. It is very durable and easy to maintain as it can just be pressure-washed in most instances. It is stylish, making it a great choice for recreational boats. It is UV-resistant and does not fade with exposure to the elements, especially with the new varieties that are especially manufactured for marine use. It is easy to pull up in order to clean the deck or floor below, or to move and install on another boat.
The downside to vinyl is that it can get hot and so it is advisable to use it in air-conditioned interior parts of the boat. But newer varieties are heat-resistant as well. Its main drawback, however, is that it is expensive.
Marine acrylic paints are the most inexpensive of all options. There are different types of finish or levels of gloss to choose from. The less toxic and faster-drying variety is water-based rather than oil-based acrylic paint.
The main advantage of paint is how cheap it is. It is easy to apply, making it a good do-it-yourself project option. The better quality paints are more durable and longer-lasting. Fast-drying varieties provide a cleaner finish by setting before fine debris can fall in and settle. Waterproof paints are the best option for outdoor decks.
One of the cons of paint is that the deck has to be prepared in advance by being sanded down, and the sanding debris carefully cleaned out. Unless they are high-quality marine grade paints, they can crack and wear out from exposure to the elements. They may also require frequent reapplication to keep the boat floor looking fresh.
Rubber flooring is relatively inexpensive. It is the most comfortable of all the options, especially those that contain foam or gel for extra support for the legs. It is also the safest flooring, especially on wet surfaces, as it is highly anti-skid.
The cons are that it gets hot, and is not UV-resistant and will fade fast.
Canvas is a robust, water-resistant fabric and has probably been used the longest for marine flooring. Its fibers can be treated to reduce fading. Like carpet, it is easy to fit and install.
The cons are that it can stretch as well as fade when exposed to weather extremes. It requires chafe and color protection.
It is not too expensive, and maintenance can be easy as it can be removed, cleaned, repaired and re-installed with relative ease.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
PVC as a material is built for tough use and is extremely durable. It comes in the form of easy-to-install tiles for flooring purposes. They can be affixed without being glued to the deck, making maintenance and re-installation easy. It is also waterproof.
It is not UV-resistant, however, and is one of the more expensive options.
In conclusion, choosing the ideal flooring option for your boat is a crucial decision that will go a long way in keeping your boat protected from harsh marine conditions, keeping maintenance costs manageable, and keeping your sailboat looking clean, attractive and as good as new. You can deck or redeck your boat with these flooring options to keep it looking great and functioning efficiently.