Re-decking a pontoon boat with fiberglass

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by lynnoyster, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. lynnoyster
    Joined: Mar 2013
    Posts: 1
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    Location: Virginia Beach

    lynnoyster New Member

    Hey guys,
    I don't know anything about boat design or what will and wont work so I figured I'd try the experts.
    We use a gutted pontoon boats as a work boat for our oyster company, It is fitted with a crane and a winch. The deck is currently just wood, I believe just the 1" plywood that is usually on a pontoon boat. The deck is constantly wet (saltwater if that matters) and is constantly being scraped with very heavy oyster cages and shovels.
    The deck has already started to weaken/rot in a couple places (which we have covered with large rubber mats).
    We have another work boat with a fiberglass deck, so my question is what would be the best way of going about replacing the wooden deck with a fiberglass deck that will be able to withstand the pressures we need it too?
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum, Lynn. Depending on the size of boat you have, the deck is sized to meet the loads. On usual pleasure use pontoons, 3/4" plywood is what's used, but this might be a wee bit weak for your need and as you've correctly noticed, doesn't take abrasion well if not treated some how.

    You have a few ways to go - the first is a sacrificial layer of something that can take the abuse, but when worm out is easily removed and replaced. I'd suggest a single layer of 3/4" plywood, which is covered by another layer of 3/4" plywood that is 'glassed over with Xynole. The sheathed top layer of plywood, covered in Xynole will be tough, water proof and wear resistant. Xynole is 6 times more abrasion resistant then regular 'glass and costs about the same per yard, though does require more resin to apply.

    Another approach is a solid "laid" deck over the subdeck of 3/4" plywood (again). This could be simply tongue and groove stock from Lowe's/Depot, but this will get torn up pretty easily, though is easy to repair. I'd recommend oak flooring instead, as it's a lot more durable. It'll still get torn up, but is much tougher, so it'll last longer.

    Another approach and a little more costly, would to again use the 3/4" plywood subdeck as a base, but use the plastic decking products they now sell. These are usually a version of polyurethane and exceptionally tough. They don't offer any strength or stiffness to the deck (that's what the plywood is for), but they will easily out wear solid wood or plywood. These products have several brand names like Trex Deck, PlasticTex, etc. and are well suited for your needs. They can be pressure washed and beaten up with little harm other than scratches. I'd recommend a 1x6 size, laid edge to edge across the whole deck. If one does get torn up, you just unscrew it, cut a new one and screw the replacement down.

    There are other ways to go too, but if I was you, I'd look into the plastic decking stock, available at the local big box store. Some of these have grooves on the back and some are sort of hollow. I'd avoid these and get the solid stuff, because you're dredging operations will tear up the hollow ones pretty quickly, but the solid stuff will kick butt for a long time. Compared to solid wood of similar size (PT 1x6's), it's a fair bit more costly, but it would be the easy to install, bullet proof method. Besides you'll have the best looking deck of all the dredgers, which is something to brag about too.
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