Help Please - interior material sources

Discussion in 'Materials' started by Sherry Corrente, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. Sherry Corrente
    Joined: Nov 2020
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    Location: Oklahoma City

    Sherry Corrente New Member

    So I have been bugging my husband for a project boat because I wanted to re-create a houseboat into a family boat-tel at the lake. He delivered. I am an interior designer. He owns a construction business. How hard could it be?!?

    Well, it turns out hard! I totally cannot use the same materials I use on houses on land, but I do want smooth walls, and sheetrock is a bad idea. I am not sure where to source materials such as wall panels and ceiling materials. We are using a vinyl flooring for the floors. Since I am a designer, I would love to have paintable materials so that I can make it more "mine" but if they are available in a variety of colors that works too.

    I am aware that some people use wood paneling (not my first choice). That is what we have removed. I cannot even find a source for a variety of that to purchase.

    Any sources you can provide, even if it doesn't seem like I may want it, would be appreciated. We are gutting the entire boat and it is not the same as gutting a house.
  2. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Location: Colorado

    Blueknarr Senior Member


    Be careful of what you wished for.

    I'm from an architectural and industrial painting back ground now doing boat repair.

    A ful gut is far worse than a full residential gut. Much worse

    1/4 inch marine plywood. If the joints bother you then surface with 6oz fiberglass twill and lot's of epoxy. Add two digits to your interior designer's budget and estimated time.

    Do a search for cored composite panels
    Rumars likes this.
  3. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
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    Location: Germany

    Rumars Senior Member

    Most boats use one of three material inside (or a combination), wood (solid or plywood), sandwich panels (glass/foam, carbon/honeycomb), rigid foam PVC (natural or upholstered). Plywood was often formica faced in certain times, or veneered with a more valuable species.
    Some less mainstream materials are aluminium, stainless and aluminium bronze, wich are usually reserved for kitchens.
  4. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: New York

    missinginaction Senior Member

    First of all welcome to the forum. We don't have a lot of women posting here, I wish we had more. Maybe you'll be a trend setter.:)

    As an interior designer you know that light colors create the illusion of larger spaces. If that houseboat is older I'll bet that it's fairly dark inside with a lot of wood paneling that you want to remove.

    In post #3 above Rumars mentions Formica based paneling. They used a ton of that in the old days. Pretty ugly, IMO. High pressure decorative laminate has come a long way over the years with Wilsonart and Formica brands being popular. I don't think you need marine plywood in the interior of a houseboat. What I would suggest is that you use a good quality exterior grade plywood with at least one 'A' face. Why exterior? Because boats, even inside are inherently damp, they have issues with condensation. A good exterior grade ply made with waterproof glue, properly prepared, will be much less expensive than true marine grade and more than sufficient for your purposes.

    Even though this material is inside the boat I'd still recommend that you coat the wood with three coats of epoxy resin on all six sides. Pay special attention to the edges where water (and water vapor) will tend to penetrate most easily. Coating your panels in this way will keep moisture out of the panels. Yes I realize that they won't be getting rained on but they still need water resistance to hold up well over time. BTW, my experience is that prepping materials well and paying attention to ventilation will help you avoid the musty boat smell that we all hate.

    I've had good luck with epoxy sealed plywood covered with white, matt finished Wilsonart HPDL. This really brightens up the boat. Your husband will be familiar with the installation of HPDL if you're not. It's not difficult. If you're replacing or redesigning cabinets and countertops you can find some very nice patterns that mimic stone and granite for the countertops without the weight. You can paint panels of course. I've always used high quality marine paint and followed the prep instructions to the letter. I stick with marine products like Interlux due to the moisture issues.

    A little work with some philippine mahogany or some other hardwood you like, a router and a planer and you can make up some nice trim pieces that break up the monotony of the white panels. As an interior designer I'd be better asking you for advice in that regard. Over the past few years PVC (polyvinyl chloride) manufacturers have really expended their offerings in the area of trim pieces. PVC trim is also pretty flexible and really flexible if heated a bit. It's white in it's natural state but can be painted so there is some room for creativity. You might find it useful for prettying up some inside and outside corners.

    Windows. I always hated those faded curtains that you see in so many old boats. The way I see it window shades should serve two functions. One is heat insulation, the other decoration. A thin curtain does nothing to keep heat out, let alone light. When I was doing the interior on my boat I splurged on some high quality pleated shades. I'm sure you know all about these. I ordered the "top down/bottom up" type. I never use the bottom up feature. Instead these shades are anchored to the wall at the bottom of the window and are lowered from the top. As the boat rocks the shades stay put. They keep the boat much cooler and look great.

    One last thing. Ventilation. Ever notice how many cruising boats smell kinda funky? It's lack of ventilation. Sure there are hatches and windows but what if you're gone for days and the forecast out there in tornado alley has you button everything up? It's very helpful to have some air moving around in your boat, even if it's all closed up. I'm guessing you have air-conditioning. Even so, your A/C doesn't run all the time. While that boat is apart, take some time to run some wiring and install a few fans in spaces where air tends to stagnate. I've installed a number of computer fans in certain areas around my boat. In electronics cabinets, in the v-berth and the head. These fans run on 12 volts, very convenient and simple to add to your existing 12 volt electrical system. If you're ambitious you can even install 12 volt DC timers that will cycle the fans on and off every few hours. Keep the air in your boat moving a bit and you can leave the air fresheners at home.

    Good luck with your project and stay safe out there,

    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020

  5. fallguy
    Joined: Dec 2016
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    fallguy Senior Member

    88E4CF98-86EB-4BC9-A6F2-859E422BB5C2.jpeg I am sitting in my boat cabin right now contemplating some of the same.

    ceilings - my ceiling will be made with 4mm okume plywood and strips of hardwood like mahogany or sapele will cover the seams with stainless screws and finish washers

    walls - my walls are all cored composite; you likely have some studs and bare walls inside now ... a couple of options.

    1. Marine grade cored walls. You can buy panels of corecell M 6mm solid for about $200 a sheet; rebate the seams like sjeetrock for taping and lay 6 oz glass over them and in the tape reliefs after on the walls. They will glue on or screw on with finish washers. Expensive and time consuming as hell, but light.

    Fiberglass shower panels. Predrill and hardwood trim the seams. Some glue here and there as well.

    1/4" Roseburg Marine ply. Epoxy glass the seams with 6 oz woven tapes 6" wide and treat like a sjeetrock buttjoin

    Cabinets. My large contemplation. I am planning coosa verticals with King Starboard ST faceframes and doors. Countertop is maybe going to be wood; not sure. I have a way to make walnut look red. It might be crazy too heavy unless I run the materials to 1/2" thick before biscuiting.

    You can also use Roseburg Marine grade plywoods in a houseboat. They are heavier than okume, but would work well.

    Here is a settee all done with Roseburg for stiffness. Verticals are cored composites.
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