Deck Rot Elimination

Rot Repairs For Too Rotten Boat Floors

One of the questions I get asked the most is about the fixing of a rotted boat floor. Rot on parts of your boat’s floor won’t necessarily translate into a huge bill. So just have a read at this article to learn about the levels of severity for rot and how you can put your boat back on water with simple repairs.

One easier way to figure out approximately how much you will have to pay and how much work will involve fixing your rotted boat floor is by reading about people with similar problems. You will probably be able to find a situation that is pretty similar to your even in this article and you will also find a solution for each of the problems.

Should Rot Issues Consume Your Time?

Some people that are just starting to dive into boat ownership might be inclined to go for a cheap boat. Usually, cheaper boats will have a lot of issues you will have to take care of. Most of these problems could have been avoided if their owners didn’t neglect them. What’s done is done so there’s no point in holding a grudge on the last owner, but we will have to fix the issues so we can enjoy the benefits of owning a boat.

I always like the challenge to get a damaged boat and fix it until I can safely take it on water. However, it’s always best to know when you’ve gone too deep into repairing a rotten boat floor, or you might regret the additional work you put in. When I first started with boat repairing I knew very little about the different products that can help you make repairs a lot easier so it took way more than it should have. I once had to fix a boat that I had a lot of expectations from. I bought it even though I knew I was going to spend countless hours repairing it.

Even though my efforts to bring back its exterior and general upholstery did pay up, the floor was a very big mess overall. The floors were full of rot, but not only that; the stringers were also in a pretty bad condition. It was actually quite the hassle because I had to rip out the deck and gut the whole interior. I also had to remake the stringers from scratch, completely removing the old ones. For people that don’t know, these are just like floor joints, used to support the floor of the boat. I had to glass everything back and deck it at the end. This all took over three months of hard work.

In the end, I sold that boat and broke even, but considering the amount of work and time I put in it, it wasn’t really worth it. So, to give a short answer, Fixing your boat’s floor of rot will sometimes be worth it and sometimes it won’t. In the end, it will depend on a few factors, so let’s go through some of the cases you might encounter.

So Let’s Use The Older Boat I Talked About As An Example

This boat was in a pretty bad condition and it was actually bought without an actual title on it, which was an additional hassle. It took considerable work just to get it titled (If you don’t know the requirements for boat titling in your state, then go through this article). I invested a considerable amount of money just to buy it and to have the paperwork brought up to date. For me, it was worth it. It was one of my favorite models and on top of that, if I were able to restore it to mint condition, it would be worth at least 10 times the money I put in. The engine was working properly and the upholstery was piece of cake. It all came down to repairing its floors. I thought it was an easy job and I never expected to get into so much work with it.

After I finished fixing it I sold it and barely got my money back, but all the work I’ve put in it was lost (If you don’t consider the experience I got from the job). So what would make you want to take on such work?

  • If the boat has a lot of sentimental value for you
  • It’s your dream model, that would cost a lot more than what you could afford if bought in mint condition
  • If in the end, you manage to sell it for a few thousand more, to make all the work you put in worth it
  • If you want to use this opportunity to gain experience for being able to take on these types of jobs later on in the future
  • You have enough money but you can’t find a better boat

Repairs are done depending on the rot level

Boat Repair ProjectWhile the boat in my example had a pretty big issue with rot all around it, this isn’t always the case with boats and some might need just some touch-up. In all my life I was able to see quite a few boats that had rot problems and some of them only required some easy fixes that took a pinch of my time to go through. While checking for rot, make sure to also check the stringers. Those are easy to fix but making sure they are strong enough is vital for your boat’s integrity. So let’s see a few examples of issues with a boat that might seem like a big deal but are actually easy fixes that won’t take up a big part of your time.

I once saw a boat that had just one soft spot on the upper deck, where the fishing seat was placed. It was a real hazard to step on the floor that was so rotten that you could actually hear it break when stepping on it. The previous owner tried to fix it but failed miserably, so I basically had to do everything again, but better.

The job consisted of removing the seat holder, peeling of the carpet, removing the wooden pieces that had rot on them, and adding new ones instead. I treated the CPES at the end, even though the support structure was as new (by the way, I always treat the CPES, it’s a quirk of mine). Everything was screwed back into place and then I coated everything with epoxy resin to guarantee a long life.

All of the work, along with the replacement of the carpet, only took a few hours of my time and in my opinion, it was all worth it in the end.

This one I considered an easy fix, but what do you think of the next one?

You might also like my article about boat maintenance for beginners.

I had a boat pass through my hands that seemed to be in really good shape.  Its owner didn’t have a proper cover and used a tarp to keep it from being rained on, which isn’t much of a help.

When I checked the floor out, I noticed that it was full of rotten spots, which in the end meant I had to replace the entire floor. Trying to fix each spot individually would be a lot of useless additional work. To do this, I also had to remove the ski hold door, the trim ring, and all of the seats. I also had to remove the engine cover to be able to remove the rotted floor of the boat, but my biggest mistake was not taking note of how everything was put together. Getting it back together piece by piece was the hardest part of the work in the end. I always make sure I know how to put something back together after going through that experience.

I didn’t just replace the floor pieces. I also coated the remaining ones in epoxy resin and gave them time to cure and also filled the joints with epoxy resin as well. I made sure that the floor was as new in the end. I finished with just a pinch of sanding to remove the remaining high spots and then went ahead to install a brand new carpet. It was a little more work, especially trying to figure out where each piece had to fit, but in the end, the boat met with water once again.

What if just the core of the floor is rotten?

I had a boat that came in with just a soft area on the main floor. The check was easy: I took a hammer and gave it a few thuds to see if the rot went to the other side. If you know what you’re doing, you will usually notice a difference in sound when there is just rot, as opposed to when the floor is solid. The carpet on top of the floor was also in pretty bad condition but the overall fiberglass layer was in pretty good condition.

My solution was to drill a number of holes in a grid pattern, no more than 6 inches apart, all over the area. I had to be careful to only drill through the top layer of fiberglass and just into the wood core. I did all this with care so I didn’t go through the bottom layer of the fiberglass. If you break through the fiberglass, you risk having your CPES drain out. I found the saw dust from drilling to be dry, so all I had to do was simply use a shop vac to pull all the air through the holes. I then completely flooded the cavity with a CPES injection. I waited the full 7 days that are required for everything to dry out, so I could move on.

As a final step, I had to inject laminating epoxy resin to fill whatever void was left. As soon as I had the void filled, I placed a sheet of Polyethylene Plastic on top of the area and placed some weight on top of it. This is what kept the floor down at the same level as the good part of the flooring. It will take about 24 hours to cure.

It all depends on the rot and your desires

Although there are more than one ways of repairing a rotted boat floor, in the end, it will all depend on the rot level and your final goals. Do you want to sell the boat, keep it for another season to two, or make it last for a lifetime?

Your new floor should last

I have repaired a lot of boats and boat parts throughout my life. On most of the boats I have repaired for rot I can say without a doubt that I could jump up and down on those decks even today. If you repair a boat properly and use professional materials, most of the time you won’t even have to keep the boat in a garage or under a cover.

This is a great mindset to have if you want to make sure your repairs will be permanent and not seasonal. In the end, the way you go with the boat repair will be on you. It’s your boat after all. 

Looking for other resources?

You will find amazing resources on websites like The Rot Doctor and amazing and amazingly cheap products on Amazon. Which means there’s nothing holding you back from starting repairs.

Don’t get too worried about the rot on your boat. Instead, start fixing it and you’ll have a better-looking, long-lasting boat in no time.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *