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How to Replace Boat Floor? Tips to Choose Plywood & Matting

how to replace boat floor

On average, a boat floor will last from 15 to 25 years. However, this is highly impacted by the material quality, installation work, and regular maintenance. At a certain point, you might want to replace the boat floor. A deck that shows signs of rot and decay is no longer safe.

Replacing the floor in a boat is not simple. It takes time and professional skills to work with the circular saw, drill, and chemicals. The six steps you need to take are:

  • Step 1: Remove the components on the old floor.
  • Step 2: Dismantle the old flooring.
  • Step 3: Measure and cut plywood.
  • Step 4: Install the new floor
  • Step 5: Cover the plywood with fiberglass or vinyl mat.
  • Step 6: Reinstall the items you’ve removed.

For a step-by-step guide on how to replace boat floor, dive in!

What You Will Need

replace-boat-floor

If you’re working with a large boat, replacing the entire boat floor can take up to 400 hours or more. So, be prepared, it is a long process. Also, each boat model requires a different procedure. The vessel’s age and size play a huge part, too. Please be mindful of adjusting the steps to comply with your situation.

Below is a list of tools you will need to put a new floor in a boat.

1. Plywood

Boat owners have a few types of boat floor replacement plywood to choose from. The most common are marine and pressure-treated plywood.

  • Marine plywood: This is premium quality plywood specially treated for high humidity environments. It offers incredible strength and resilience. You can find marine plywood in different colors, patterns, widths, lengths, and thicknesses. Still, please be noted that not all marine plywood is waterproof. Thus, you must treat it with epoxy, sealing inside and outside to make it completely water-resistant.
  • Pressure-treated plywood: This is plywood treated with preservative by a pressure process. The treatment allows the plywood to be more reliable and long-lasting. It can withstand weathering, rot, and decay. With epoxy, you can make pressure-treated plywood waterproof. However, it is not as high-quality as the marine one, especially when exposed to harsh weather conditions at marinas.

2. Marine vinyl or fiberglass flooring

Despite its durability and resilience, plywood is naturally vulnerable to moisture no matter what treatments are applied. Hence, covering the wood with marine vinyl or fiberglass flooring will help significantly extend its lifespan.

  • Marine vinyl flooring: Marine vinyl is easy to install, clean, and maintain. It is skid-resistant, UV-stabilized, and cost-effective.
  • Fiberglass flooring: Another option is fiberglass flooring. In general, fiberglass has a higher level of water resistance. It does not rust when affected by insects or rodents. Also, fiberglass looks more professional and attractive. If you intend to sell the boat in the future, fiberglass matting will upgrade its value.

No matter what type of flooring you choose, ensure it has a protective marine top coat for maximal longevity.

3. Circular saw and tape measure

A circular saw and tape measure will be sufficient for straight cuts of plywood and fiberglass. But for curved cuts, you need a saber saw or handheld jigsaw. The OSHA has published the woodworking machinery requirements. Please read carefully and follow these safety practices.

4. Marine epoxy resin

To put the wood and matting together, you need heavy-duty marine epoxy resin. You can buy a complete kit like the TotalBoat 5:1 Epoxy Resin Kits. The kit includes everything you need for boat floor repair and building.

5. Hand drill

To keep the plywood and matting in place, you need the help of screws. Prepare several new or sharpened drill bits to make screw holes. Because both marine plywood and matting are coated with a clear gel top coat, drill bits that are not sharp enough can chip the edges of the holes.

6. Safety gear

You should have goggles or a face shield, hearing protection, and a mask to protect yourself from flying splinters.

Steps to Replace the Boat Floor

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Step 1: Remove the items on the floor

First and foremost, you have to remove all components attached to the old floor. This includes the consoles, chairs, and wirings. Also, check the transom for any signs of decay. Most of the time, when the floor requires replacement, there are rot problems on the transom area.

You need to pull the engine out of the boat, too. Each motor model has a slightly different removing procedure. Check the manual instructions for specific steps.

Step 2: Dismantle the old flooring

Trim around the edges of your boat with the circular saw. Always determine the ideal depth of the saw before cutting. This depends on the old flooring’s thickness. Normally, a depth of ⅝ inch will work. Don’t go too close to the boat edge, leave at least three inches of the old flooring to avoid puncturing the sides of the boat. Besides, the edge will serve as a supportive frame for the new flooring.

You should ensure safety when using circular saw by:

  • Setting up and checking the saw properly before use. Do not over-tighten the blade-locking knob.
  • Putting on protective gear before proceeding.
  • Go slowly. If the saw appears or vibrates in an unusual way, immediately stop.
  • Never put the saw on the ground while the blade is rotating.

Be careful to keep as much of the old flooring intact as possible. Later on, you can use it as a guide to cut the new plywood and line up the screw holes. Following the previous flooring frame will save you from the complex dimension measurements.

Step 3: Measuring and cutting the plywood

Follow the old flooring dimensions to cut the plywood. Then, soak the wood pieces into marine epoxy and leave them air dry. This step will help further waterproof the plywood. Epoxy might take up to a few hours to completely dry. Once it is dry, mark the screw holes and drill.

Step 4: Install the new floor

Before installing, check the other parts of the boat. Only lay the new floor down when all decay is removed.

Step 5: 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. Don’t forget to sand down the rough surfaces for a smooth finish.

Step 6: Reinstall the items you’ve removed

Lastly, reinstall all the items you’ve removed out of the boat: the chairs, consoles, wirings, and engine.

Also, check this video to know how to replace boat floor:

Conclusion

Replacing the floor in a boat is a complex and challenging task. It requires professional skills to work with saws, drills, and chemicals. But the result is always worth it. Also, you can add a boat carpet on top of the fiberglass mat. It will elevate the vessel look and keep the matting away from scratches or stains. Cleaning and maintaining a carpet is less time-consuming than a fiberglass matting.

We hope you’ve gathered useful information for the upcoming replacing the boat floor project. Please feel free to leave us questions should you have any. We are more than glad to assist our fellow boat owners. See you then!

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