After looking at a number of options and trying to come up with solutions, I decided to dive in and do my own marine decking. Those of us with older boats that have non gel coated floors are at a disadvantage, until now!
I started with the painful process of pulling up the old carpet. There is a bunch of write ups out there on this so I will spare you the details but will say getting he first part up is the hardest and acetone works well to strip the old glue. Specific questions, just ask.
After stripping the glue, I made a series of templates based on the sheet sizes of the Ultralon to limit seams or hide them in areas already covered. There are seams where the fiberglass overlaps so I decided to use a fairing putty to smooth them out.
After the fairing was done and the dust cleared, I laid down to coats of epoxy to eliminate fabric print and to give a clean surface to bond to.
Finally it was time to lay the floor! I scuffed the epoxy with 120 grit to knock out any dirt and imperfections that might cause delamination. I double checked the fit and and laid the first piece.
I continued on, double checking and fitting pieces...
So there it is, a quick update on my flooring project. There are a number of foam flooring suppliers like SeaDek and Gator Step but I chose Ultralon for the durability, higher HDT and the color retention. Anyway, I will explain all of this when I finish the project and complete the post. I am happy to answer any questions before that time as well.
I used an epoxy from Axson and added a pigment to it. The product was fairly viscous and self leveled well. The first coat was brushed on with a 4" brush (faster than you might think) and the second was done with a roller.
The foam can hide a lot but not like carpet does. Smoothing the transitions keeps the ridges from showing and more importantly, make sure you have full contact for the adhesive.
The carpet would not be accurate enough for the flooring so I used a heavy flooring paper and masking tape. Since it was a one off I was not too concerned about it. I was able to keep them intact after cutting my pieces surprisingly.
The epoxy and fairing material were both Axson products. The fairing putty could be a basic polyester type material (bondo) as well if you wanted to save money.
Almost there! Finished cutting the center floor locker last night. Only thing remaining is the pullout.
From a pricing standpoint I am not sure how it compares. I do know that it is much more durable and has a high HDT so it shouldn't be moving around and pulling back like I have heard with SeaDek and the like. If you are interested send me a message and I can help.
I am getting closer to finishing this project and came across some things that might help others along the way as it pertains to how you can deal with the center pull out.
I am rebuilding my center floor because the aluminum honeycomb that was there has been dented, dinged and has delaminated over time. That said, I know many center floors are just fine which will have most wanting to reuse them. What you will find once you remove the carpet is that the center floor is much smaller than the opening and this is to compensate for the carpet which wrapped around both sides.
There are many ways to finish out the edge of the Ultralon but one thing you cannot do is simply allow the material to overhang and fill this gap. If you did there would be nothing underneath it and likely the product would move around, creating an uneven edge.
So, even though I am replacing my center floor and it will go all the way to each edge I decided to play around to see if I could come up with some solutions for those that want to do this and also want to retain their existing center floor.
First I came up with the idea of cutting a V groove on the backside to allow the material to wrap over the 90° outside corner with a much tighter radius. The picture below is something I did with a razor blade just for sake of trial.
This creates a much cleaner and tighter angle compared to wrapping the 6mm material over. This also releases the tension on both surfaces. If this were cut with a clean router edge it would match up to itself quite nicely.
It also turns out, in my case, that wrapping both sides filled the gap just about perfectly. The corners of the main deck panels are not 90° and are cut with a slight radius, again, to compensate for the carpet. I opted to cut my new center floor and the main deck at a 90° angle because the two radiuses were not the same. It is amazing what you can hide with carpet. I bring this up because I am not exactly sure how you would accommodate that radius with this method. I suspect it would take some creative cutting and fitting to make it work well. One benefit of overlapping both edges is it will create a nice tight fit and therefore you would not just be relying on the adhesive to maintain fit and finish. This should be helpful considering the amount of cutting a material manipulation that would likely be required for the radiuses.
What I will be doing on my floor is putting just a slight bevel on the main deck and the center floor with a 45° router bit. The results are pictured below.
Since my center panel will go all the way to the edge it will be completely supported therefore I do not need to roll the material over the edge. This will also allow it to fit nicely into the forward corners which I have cut to 90° angles.
Another thing that I found when I was aligning seams together while laying the floor is that this material does and amazing job hiding seams. This got me to thinking about leaving a slight overhang, perhaps 1/32 of an inch, and creating a very tight fit for the center floor. The idea would be to have a seam that is nearly invisible like the picture below.
I decided against this because maintaining that perfect edge in an area that will see high traffic could be difficult. I think it would end up looking like you were trying to hide the seam which, of course, would be the idea but if someone can tell that you are trying to hide the same what is the point?
Anyway, I hope this gives you some ideas and sparks some conversations when you get ready to do your own.
I was able to get the center floor rebuild finished and I put down the Ultralon.
it is not done as I still need to fit and align the outer seams and get it screwed down but this was the last obstacle to completing the project.
I changed course on the swim step. I was going to do it with the standard brushed grey to match the bow steps and gunwale pads I made but decided to match it up to interior floor.
Just a quick update. I am planning to finish this up in the next few days so stay tuned!
I made templates using the original step pad and used a 45 degree router bit to cut the edges. Some choose to use a quarter round or similar bit. I have a variable speed router and used a lower speed and made a moderate speed pass.
Feel free to ask any other questions you might have.
The final issue I faced was the walk through locker door. Having been wrapped with carpet, the panel was undercut and off center.
My solution was to use a 1/2" piece of starboard. The factory aluminum honeycomb was 3/8" but with the 6mm Ultralon on the 1/2" starboard, everything lined up perfect!
The factory hinge (pictured below) was too short with the 1/8" higher starboard and the decking was getting pinched when the door would open.
I bought a 1 1/2" stainless hinge (pictures below and 3/4" when closed) which resolved the issue and lined up flush with the door.
Final step was to cut a 1 3/4" hole for the door pull and the final result of this project is below. All I need now is a thorough cleaning and to wrap up a few small details...
I have one seam in the main area and it is center between the fuel tank cutout and the forward locker. The center floor was cut from a single piece. That's all I needed!
I suggest investing in a nice metal straight edge and cutting directly along one of the black lines (if you use the laminated plank) and cut at an ever so slight angle toward the straight edge. Then when you place the panels together you can use about a 1/16 or 1/32 overlap and the seam virtually disappears without causing a ridge.
So there it is! I hope this helps and if you have any questions or need more details, don't hesitate to ask.
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