Wednesday, April 24, 2024

How To Replace Boat Floor

The Problem With A Soft Spot

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One reason that soft spots in wooden boat floors have such bad reputations amongst boat owners is that they can be indicative of further degradation. So, lets start this with a caveatif theres significant boat rot on your wood deck and some of it is showing up in the boat floor, you have a major situation on your hands. You should have the boat thoroughly inspected and examined before you consider it seaworthy again.

Of course, every boat is different. Thats why its important to get an extra eye and investigate whether the soft spot is caused by rot that may be deeper into the boat than you know. If your soft spot is in fiberglass, however, its possible to salvage.

Out With The Old In With The New

Fiberglassing starts by removing any damaged section of the boats floor. Youll want to take note of any loose flooring and items as you clear out furniture and clean the living space. Get rid of items that no longer serve a purpose, like old and damaged plywood and other outdated decorations and structures, in preparation for your new floors. When planning your new boat floor dont forget the place for storing your essentials like a space for your fishing gear. At this point, youll also want to clear out your boats center console and get the cables out of the way. If its tough for you to remember which part goes where, write down all the things youve disconnected so that its easier for you to reconnect them once everything is done. Keep in mind that this project takes time and is not likely to be done in an hour.

Cover The Flooring With Fiberglass Or Vinyl Mat

Now, most of the hard work is done. Go ahead and cover the plywood flooring with the fiberglass or vinyl mat. Seal it in place using epoxy resin. Wait until the resin is totally dry. Then, drill holes and use screws to help secure the mat. Again, follow the screw positions of the previous flooring. Dont forget to sand down the rough surfaces for a smooth finish.

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Damaged Boat Floor Removal

Once the seats, and any other storage or other equipment have been removed, you should have full access to the floor. The plywood floor will probably be held in place by aluminum pop rivets, or possibly screws. Remove all the fasteners taking care not to damage the floor covering. Leave the floor covering on the old plywood. In many cases, it can be reused or help aid in the preparation of the new floor.

Having an extra hand lifting the old floor out of the boat is recommended. They can be a bit heavy and awkward to lift for just one person. Also, be sure to wear a pair of leather gloves when handling the old floor. There may be loose, rusty staples securing the floor covering, sharp edges on the rivets that were drilled out, or a stray old fishing hook lurking along the edges or under the old floor.

Prepare Plywood Boat Floor For Installation

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Once you have the new plywood floor cut and dry-fit, there are a few things youll need to do before it can be permanently installed. These steps will help ensure your new floor is strong, secure, and will last for many years.

Sealing The Plywood Floor

The first thing youre going to want to do is to seal the plywood. This is very important to significantly extend the life of the plywood. If you are making any splices, I would recommend sealing all the surfaces before joining the pieces together.

I used good quality oil-based paint for this. There may be other more expensive options, but my research showed that most people had good results with oil-based paint. I applied two coats to all surfaces top and bottom.

Painting the plywood took the most time in this project. It called for allowing the paint to dry a full 24 hours before applying the second coat. So to put two coats on top and bottom will take 4 days.

Thats why I saved a few items to work on below. Its also the perfect time to make other repairs or upgrades to your boat. I made some repairs to my boat seat mounts and installed a small float-type bilge pump to help keep excess water out of the boat.

Splicing Plywood Sections Together

To make the splice start with the plywood upside down sitting on saw horses and a couple of 2×4s for support. Pre-drill the aluminum strap with the rivet holes. With the aluminum strap in place on the plywood, drill the rivet holes through the plywood.

Installing The Floor Covering

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So Lets Use This Sea Ray For This Example

This boat was a 1990 and I paid $800 for it with no titles. It took $400 and lots of time and effort to get title in my name . So I had $1200 in it before starting any work. This Particular boat, if it was in really nice condition, would be a $6500 boat. It ran awesome and I knew I could clean up the hull and upholstery. I just had never repaired rotted floors before. Man did I get a lesson!

I made about $3K after selling it, but I wasnt happy in the end. Though, bringing back a beautiful boat did mean something to me. So who might want to do a project like this?

Installing The New Boat Floor

This is probably the most exciting part of the project. Laying the new floor into place in the bottom of the boat. Youll definitely want some help lifting and installing the new floor into the boat.

If you are reusing your floor covering, the rivet holes that secure the floor to the boat of the boat should be fairly well aligned with the cross member support marks on the sides of the hull you made earlier. Make any slight adjustment to the floors position before moving on.

Now youre ready to start drilling the holes in the new floor for the pop rivets to secure it to the supports on the bottom of the boat. If youre reusing the old floor covering, you can use the existing holes. Otherwise, use the marks you have on the diagram of the boat floor you created.

When drilling, start slowly and make sure the bit does not grab a hold of the floor covering material. Drill just deep enough to go through the plywood floor and into the cross member support.

Before inserting the pop rivet, squeeze a small dab of marine silicone in and around the hole. If youre using carpet for a floor covering, keep the amount around the hole to a minimum. That way the rivets large flange will completely cover the silicone and give you a nice clean finish. On vinyl flooring just wipe up any excess silicone before it dries.

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Lay Down The Cut Plywood

Apply epoxy on the areas of the new plywood that will be included to provide water protection.

Once it has dried, thats the only time for you to use the drill to mark out the appropriate areas of the plywood that you need to screw in place. Its better to have holes as a guide when laying down the cut plywood.

What Are Boat Stringers

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So, what are stringers on a boat? The boat stringers main purpose is to offer structural support on a boat and are situated underneath the boat deck.

The boat stringers in older boats are usually made out of wood. The wooden stringers are then laminated or can be covered in fiberglass. The more modern versions are crafted out of manufactured fiberglass molds.

The stringers are positioned in a grid-like form and cover the length of the boat, which creates the best support structure. Boat stringers help to support heavy structures such as the engine but also supports things like the cockpit.

A boat in most cases is placed under a lot of stress and therefore requires careful maintenance. Replacement of boat stringers might be needed if it has been irreparably damaged. As mentioned, you have stringers made of wood, but there are other options for boat stringer material available.

Many have experimented with different materials from epoxy, carbon fiber to Kevlar. All of these materials offer great structural support and stiffness and unlike wood, will not rot.

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Repairing A Runabout Floor Or Pontoon Deck

A common source of problems on open runabouts and pontoon boats is the cockpit floor or deck. This part of the boat is usually just a layer of plywood screwed down to the top of stringers and frames. Many have a layer of carpet or vinyl flooring material glued onto the plywood.

On runabouts, the floor is usually tabbed or joined to the hull sides with fiberglass tape at the edges of the plywood and up the side of the hull a few inches. Some runabouts will also have a layer or two of fiberglass fabric over the top of the plywood, with a non-skid pattern molded in.

Poorly installed floors and decks are prone to delamination and rot. Moisture enters the plywood endgrain alongside of the screws holding the floor down to the framing as well as the fasteners holding the seats, coolers, and other items to the floor. In addition, there is seldom any fiberglass or resin coating to seal the back side of the plywood, so moisture also enters the plywood from below the floor where the air is often damp and stagnant.

Once the plywood begins to delaminate, the deck will feel spongy underfoot. This is discomforting and unsafe to walk on, and also reduces the athwartship hull stiffness the floor would normally provide. If not repaired, the plywood will rot. I have repaired boats that were less than five years old that had this problem. This situation can be avoided if the builder takes care to seal any penetrations into the plywood.

Removing the damaged floor

Installing the new floor

It Can Be Used For Interior As Well As Exterior Walls

How to replace plywood boat floor. Marine plywood is often used to build boat interiors and to replace flooring during boat renovations. If the stringers and bulkheads are rotten, get them replaced with fiberglass ones. It looks like it was really thick plywood, but that wouldnt seem right.

It features a durable face and core veneers. Replacing boat floor hello all. The boat is currently a ghostly empty shell with nothing but a loose bmc 1.5 engine.

It is actually made in such a way that it is not 100 percent wood. Its understandable when a boat owner doesnt want to use something that will rot again. I own xtreme marine of oklahoma and have just recently finished redoing the floor in my 25′ baja.

Birch plywood is also an economical marine plywood alternative. Marine plywood is a great sheet material that can be easily cut using both hand saws and basic power tools. I rotated both pieces and spliced them together making a 5×8 foot sheet.

To build up the strength of the wood, it contains a wax resin as well. Marine plywood is a great sheet material that can be easily cut using both hand saws and basic power tools. It’s very easy to put a new floor in most aluminum boats, so the down side of a low cost job not holding up long enough and needing to be done again isn’t as critical as on a fiber glass boat.

It will crack, let in mosture, then you got a soggy floor. The floor had one soft spot under the pass side seat. Replacing the plywood floor on my boat.

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Getting Down To The Start Of Stringer Rot

1987 Smoker Craft Challenger, Replacing Boat Floor

I had a 1996 Celebrity that had a 454 Mercruiser in really nice shape. The former owner only had the bow cover and had lost the rear cabin cover. He was using a tarp to keep the rain out.

I ended up pulling the entire rotted floor out. I did this because there were too many places that needed repair. It would be more work to blend them all in together versus replacing it all. I removed all the seating and ski hold door and trim ring. I pulled the batteries and engine cover, then proceeded to remove the rotted boat floor. Always taking note of how the floor was pieced together. You want to install in the same pattern.

This was another case where the tops of the stringers were starting to get rot. Again I treated the stringers with Smiths Original Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer where they were damaged. I was able to use the old floor pieces as a template for cutting out the new floor, being sure each one fit before moving on to the next.

After coating the floor pieces with epoxy resin and letting them cure, it was time to install the new floor. Grinding a gouge along all the joints was next. Then using epoxy resin to fill the joints along with strips of fiberglass matting, I built up the resin and matting until the floor was flush. With a bit of sanding to take out any high spots, it was time to glue in some new carpet and reinstall the boat interior. Then it was back to the lake.

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What Are Your Rotten Circumstances

There are more ways to make repairs to a rotted boat floor, but it really does depend on what your goal is with the boat. Are you planning on keeping the boat for the rest of your life, or just making it last for a few more seasons.

Lets say you have a 1994 19 Bayliner Capri Bowrider. Its a bit rough around the edges and just hasnt been maintained well at all. However, you bought it because it was an inexpensive way to get out on the water. You love to fish and occasionally pull the grandkids around the lake on the tube.

This boat has very little potential to ever be a perfect boat. It will never reach a high enough value to make you want to go through the trouble of a nice floor restoration. Right now it is just too squishy for comfort.

In this case, you should just tear out the carpet and sweep the floor clean. Grab some sheets of green treat plywood from the Home Depot. Apply some Liquid Nails type of adhesive and screw it down to the old floor. Glue some new indoor/outdoor carpet down and enjoy your boat.

Weather And Boil Proof Plywood

The Weather and Boil Proof Plywood, or the WBP plywood, features a highly resistant design. It can withstand both harsh temperatures and weather conditions.

Its material composition features thin veneers that are all glued together. This ensures that the grains are at a right angle.

The WBP plywood is produced using a cross-hatching technique to join the sheets together. This makes the plywood more durable, lighter, and more robust than other types of plywood.

Its glue features premium melamine, which helps it fight off high temperatures. In fact, the WBP plywood is capable of being soaked in boiling water for roughly 20 hours. So, if you often go boating in hot streams, the WBP plywood is a good boat floor replacement plywood.

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Inspecting Your Boat Stringers

If you suspect that there might be a problem, it is time to inspect your boat. In order to see if there is a problem, the best way to find out is to have a look. You may have to cut a few small holes to get a visual on the problem.

You can easily fix these holes again if you do not find anything, but if there is a problem, this will save you in the long run. Inside will be pretty dark, so using a torch and mirror may come in handy in spotting the problem.

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