My New Floor

At the end of the season in 1999, my boat convinced me that it needed a new floor. It said, "If you don't give me a new floor, I'm dropping you through this one."

So I said, "Okay, next spring. It's gonna happen."

During the winter and early spring, I did research. I went to several websites and found that the ones that talked about repairing floors and the like were basically shills for products. "Come to me," they said, "follow our procedures, and buy our products here."

I went to the newsgroup, rec.boats, where I learned a lot of things.

I learned that

However, I didn't learn much about putting floors in boats.

Then I talked to my neighbor. From him, I finally learned something about putting floors in boats. So here is what I did:

1. I ripped out the old floor. Some of it I had to cut out. I was agonizing about how to get the last few inches around the periphery of the boat up when my neighbor suggested leaving that there and using it as a support for the new floor. That turned out to be a great idea, because it was so molded in with fiberglass that getting it out in any reasonable amount of time would have been next to impossible. (As a result, when I was done, the new floor was 5/8" higher than the old one.)

2. I measured the space carefully, then measured it again. I diagrammed the floor and noted my measurements. I still got it wrong, but that's a later part of the story.

3. I bought 3/4 inch pressure treated exterior plywood and cut it to fit the boat. I ended up having to do jigsaw pieces in order to allow an access panel for the fuel tank, which sits under the deck in the center of the boat: One piece from behind the fuel tank to the stern; three pieces along the fuel tank--one on each side and the access panel; and one piece from in front of the fuel tank to the prow. I also cut to fit wood for the stringers that had to be replaced or reinforced.

4. Once the pieces were cut, I soaked them in epoxy. I put three coats of epoxy on each piece--bottom, top and sides. I wanted them to be thoroughly infiltrated with epoxy from all angles before putting them in place. By the time I was done, I went through four gallons of epoxy. I am confident that no drop of water is going to find a home in those pieces of wood.

5. I replaced and reinforced the stringers, then set the new floor in place, working from the back to the front of the boat. I had no particular reason to work from the back to the front--it just seemed easier. I screwed them down with deck screws. Deck--deck screws. Seemed to make sense to me. I had to trim three inches off the piece nearest the prow, but when I started, I had decided to err on the side of cutting the pieces too big, rather than too little.

6. Once the floor was screwed in place, I laid the fiberglass mat and resin and let it dry. Voila!

7. I covered the whole thing with exterior carpet. We decided that that was the best option for keeping our toes comfortable. Paint would have been too hot; plastic sheeting too slippery; vinyl (what was there before) too tacky.

Click for larger image And I was done.

Here's the end result. Click on the image for a larger display.

I also did some other things that had been hanging over my head, such as replace and rewire the bilge pump (hmmm, wonder how long the housing had been cracked?), patch the holes in the keel that had appeared where the boat had been blown aground in a storm a season before (wondered why there was so much water in the boat when I pulled the drain plug for the last time the previous September!), replaced the rotten 1 x 6 railings along the interior of the gunwales, and so on. . .

I learned the following:

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Copyright 2001, 2010 Frank W. Bell, Jr.

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