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Fiberglass Boat Floor Replacement: 5 Steps To Follow

If you have a damaged or soft fiberglass boat’s floor, sometimes, it likely needs replacing. Thankfully, with some fiberglass skills and the right materials, you can replace it yourself.

In this article, you will learn my recommended simple process for your Fiberglass boat floor replacement.

Let’s get started.

Why Floors Need Replacing

The marine environment takes a toll on boat floors. Moist bilge areas combined with foot traffic wear down the integrity of flooring over time.

Signs you need new floors include soft spots, visible cracks or large bubbles under the surface.

Addressing problems early on avoids safety issues and more extensive repairs later.

DIY Floor Replacement Process Explained

Installing new fiberglass flooring is an extensive project but costs a fraction compared to professional replacement. The process involves:

1. Removal

The first step is removing all existing flooring and floor stringers down to the bare hull. Use a razor knife, putty knife, or power saw to cut away old fiberglass panels.

fiberglass boat floor replacement - someone wearing safety goggles, gloves, and a respirator, and  cutting a boat floor

Be sure to wear safety goggles, gloves and a respirator to avoid inhaling glass dust. Completely remove old residue with acetone.

2. Surface Preparation

Once stripped down to gelcoat, thoroughly clean, sand and dry the hull surface. Fix any cracks or holes with thickened epoxy.

==>> You should also read my full guide on sanding a fiberglass boat here.

Apply mold-release wax so new floors don’t stick permanently. Vacuum up debris and wipe with tack rags.

3. Cutting New Pieces

Make a cardboard template of the hull surface. Trace and cut marine-grade plywood, foam or honeycomb panels to size.

Cut panels so seams fall along stringers for support. Use a jigsaw for curved sections. Place panels tightly together.

4. Bonding

Next, coat the hull and new panels with epoxy resin. Carefully lower panels in place. Apply weight for compression and set resin cleats to prevent shifting. Let cure fully.

fiberglass boat floor replacement - weight for compression of plywood

Flip panels over and coat undersides. Allow to harden completely.

5. Finishing

Once secured, use epoxy fillers to smooth seams.

Sand surface for a uniform finish. Apply non-skid paint in walking areas or bond down new decking.

Install rubbery caulking along the edges for waterproofing.

Choosing the Right Materials

When selecting materials, marine-grade plywood panels, Divinycell foam cores or aluminium honeycomb panels are good options built to withstand moisture.

Use epoxy resins over polyester ones for superior strength and water resistance. Choosing quality materials upfront prevents issues down the road.

==>>If you’re still unsure about which resin to use for different types of DIY projects, read my guide about Polyester resin vs Epoxy resin here.

Accounting for Drainage

Plan proper drainage when replacing floors.

Install bilge pump systems, sloped panels leading to sump areas, drainage grooves and other features to keep water flowing out.

Prevent standing water or moisture buildup under new floors to avoid delamination or weak points.

Complementing the Design

New solid flooring provides the ideal clean slate for reconfiguring layouts. Consider shifting appliances or tank positions for better weight distribution or improved storage.

Run wires and tubes before securing new panels.

Refinish the surface to match existing deck colors and finishes for a seamless look.

When to Call a Professional

While ambitious owners can tackle floor replacements themselves, extensive core damage, electrical rewiring or structural modifications may require a marine professional.

Likewise, proper disposal of old fiberglass materials takes special handling. Know your limitations and when it pays to call the experts.

No matter your skill level, fresh flooring prolongs your boat’s lifespan and enhances resale value.

For most do-it-yourselfers, replacing floors using marine-grade panels designed for the job gives very rewarding results. Just take all safety measures during the multi-day project. Smooth sailing awaits!

With some fiberglass experience and the proper tools, most handy boaters can replace their boat’s floors themselves. Using panels designed for marine flooring simplifies the process.

Hope you gained value from these Fiberglass boat floor replacement tips.

Do not hesitate to drop a comment below and I will get back to you.

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