Replacing a Rotten Boat Deck is an Easy Task

25M Marine Boat PVC Synthetic Teak Deck

Although more and more ships are now made entirely of composite materials deck, the use of plywood on deck has been standard procedure in shipbuilding for decades. As a result, over time there will be a large number of soft decaying decks. Now cut out the old rotten boat deck or section of deck that’s rotten. You’ll need a sabre saw, crowbar, hammer, chisel, pick, and a drill with screw bits. Most of your initial work will be with the saw, cutting around the perimeter of the teak boat deck. Set the saw blade by first drilling a hole in the rotten boat deck and using a probe to measure its thickness. Whatever you do, don’t skip this stage – you don’t want to cut too deep and if you fail to set the saw blade correctly, and you could saw right through bulkheads or even the hull in some spots.

Replacing a Rotten Boat Deck

Ripping up the old, rotted teak deck is easy once it’s cut free, but you’ll likely find some areas where pieces need to be chipped away from fibreglass putty on the stringers and/or bulkheads with the hammer and chisel. A more tedious chore is using the hammer and pick to chip fibreglass resin out of screw heads that secured the boat deck, so you can remove the old fasteners. Once the area to be repaired was completely clear, it was time to build the replacement core.

Cut new PVC teak decking to fit. In the case of a square patch, this is no big deal, but if you’re doing an entire rotten boat deck, matching radiuses around the bow can be challenging.

The project breaks down into four main steps: making the template, rough-cutting and glueing the PVC teak strips together to form large panels, cutting to size and attaching borders around the edges of those synthetic boat decking, and then glueing them down on the boat. The job didn’t really call upon my woodworking skills. The chief requirements are dexterity with a utility knife and patience.

With template paper cut roughly to fit the deck, cuts half-moon openings in the template folds them under and use the holes to tape the template down. While you’re building the PVC teak deck, away from the boat, it’s critical to have a template with accurate, complete information, Take photos of tricky spots and indicate photo locations on the PVC teak deck template for visual reference while in the workshop.

Use a piece of scrap tongue, a clean rag, and denatured alcohol to clean inside grooves, and use scrap groove to clean tongues. Run a line of glue down the top inside edge of the tongue, and then draw the groove of the next plank into the tongue—glueing only the top of each tongue. The glue sets instantly, so work six inches at a time. For better glue control, heat the tip of the glue bottle, flatten it with pliers, and poke a tiny new hole through with a sharp pick. Glueing only the top before composite boat deck panels are cut, and then the bottom afterwards, ensures perfectly flat panels.

Mark the centerline of the template and also a corresponding line on the synthetic teak deck panel, cut small diamond-shaped windows in the template to align the two, and tape the template down with the same half-moon cuts used aboard the boat. Cut through the template and about two-thirds through the synthetic teak decking, and tape the template back together after each cut, again to maintain the integrity of the template.

Remove the template, finish the cut, and clean edges with a small block plane. overriding advice is to move your body, not your hand. You’ll get more control and smoother cuts. Never use a straightedge for long cuts—the blade invariably wanders, unnoticed—and keep the knife blade exactly synthetic boat deck vertical so joints fit tightly.

Borders are one composite boat deck and one seam wide, glued around the perimeter of the PVC synthetic boat deck and typically along both edges of hatches. The work seems simple, but cutting and fitting borders, particularly at corners, takes time and patience. So much so that the linear feet of border required accounts for 35 per cent of the total estimate for decks fabricates times.

Cut the finished-panel corners and trim the edges with a block plane and 40-grit sandpaper, and sand imperfections in seams—always with the grain. Flip the assembled synthetic boat deck over, label it for location and orientation on the boat, and glue all seams with the gap-filling silicone glue provided. Tape off small sections—two- or three-foot squares are ideal. Squeeze adhesive out of the tube and twist the tube end to seal it, then spread the glue with a V-notched trowel. Pull the tape, set the synthetic teak deck panel in place and check the marks, then carefully roll all air pockets out with a flooring roller, working from the centre toward the edges. Glue the next section before the first section dries.

The overriding concern is air pockets either where trapped air isn’t rolled out, glue isn’t spread evenly, or pressure from a knee or elbow squeezes glue thin in one spot. The result of any of the three is a raised bubble in the composite boat deck that will require time-consuming repairs. Knee pads and thick pieces of closed-cell foam spread the load while working and for 72 hours afterwards until glue cures. Uses inch thick steel bars to weight the corners and edges until glue sets. Gallon water jugs and plywood work, too.

All it takes to maintain that freshly sanded blond teak look is soap and water when washing the boat, and an occasional good scrubbing with Roll-Off. The newly installed PVC teak deck requires almost no maintenance, saving a lot of maintenance costs later.

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