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Do You Have to Fiberglass a Plywood Boat?

do you have to fiberglass a plywood boat

If you are building a boat, you may start to wonder how to build it in the best possible way. For example, you may start to think about whether fiberglassing the plywood boat is necessary. So, is it?

If you use a quality plywood and a marine paint, then there is no need to fiberglass your plywood boat. You could if you wanted. However, you aren’t going to be gaining that much extra in the way of protection when you do so. 

Let’s explain. 

Is Fiberglassing Necessary for a Plywood Boat?

In the past, fiberglassing may have been necessary if you built a plywood boat. However, marine paints will now do the job for you.

If you are using a marine paint, and a piece of plywood that has been rated for marine use, then there is absolutely no need for you to fiberglass your boat. This means that you can save a little bit of cash there.

If you are not planning on painting your boat or having some sort of protective layer on your marine plywood, then you will need to fiberglass the boat. 

What Are the Benefits of Fiberglassing a Plywood Boat?

Obviously, if you are using marine paint on the plywood, then there are not going to be that many advantages to fiberglassing your boat.

If you are not using marine paint, then fiberglassing your boat becomes vital. Obviously, wood will absorb water. It is what it does.

If you do not have the protective fiberglass layer on your boat, then the wood will start to suck up all of that water. This can cause it to start to rot which, in turn, will basically cause your boat to fall apart. 

A lot of people find that fiberglassing their boat tends to have a lot less maintenance than using paint too.

Although, remember that there is still going to be some maintenance. There is nothing that you can put on the outside of your boat that is going to be truly maintenance-free.

A lot of people love the color that fiberglass has too. It looks a lot better than paint (for some people), and this means that you can end up with a boat that just looks so much more beautiful.

Although, we are hesitant to say that this is a huge benefit as it is very much a personal choice. 

How Do You Fiberglass a Plywood Boat?

Click Image for More Info

To fiberglass a plywood boat, you will need the following:

  • A paint roller or an old paintbrush. 
  • Fiberglass cloth
  • Fiberglass resin (check the bottle of a product that you buy to be sure that it works with fiberglass)

The process should be fairly easy. Start by mixing up your resin as per the bottle instructions. How you do this will be dependent on the product that you buy.

Once the resin is ready, add a thin coat to the surface of the wood and allow it to dry. This will help to seal the wood a little bit, which makes it easier for you to apply the next lot of resin. It also gives the wood a bit more protection.

Once that resin is dry, add another layer of resin. This should also be a thin layer, but you want to cover every part of the area where you want the fiberglass to stick.

You should only be working with a single section at a time. Don’t resin the whole boat at once. If you did that, then the resin would start to dry out before you got to the next section.

Place your first fiberglass cloth directly onto the boat and push it down. You can use a roller to roll it out. You want that fiberglass cloth to be pushed tightly against the boat.

There should be absolutely no movement there. There should be no space under the fiberglass cloth for the water to get under.

Repeat this process for the entire boat. It is fine to overlap the fiberglass cloth as long as you push it down and ensure that there are no gaps. 

To check the current price and availability of Fiberglass Cloth, click here to view the selection on Amazon.

What Materials Do You Need to Fiberglass a Plywood Boat?

You do not need that many materials to fiberglass a plywood boat. You just need some fiberglass cloth (make sure it is marine-safe) and a marine-safe resin. 

On the tool front, a paint mixer (electric) would really help, as would a quality brush to spread the resin about. However, remember, you shouldn’t use your favorite brush for this job. You won’t ever be using it again after it has come into contact with the resin!

What Are the Considerations for Fiberglassing a Plywood Boat?

Make sure that everything that you purchase has been rated for marine use. This fiberglass and the resin are going to be touching the water, after all.

You will also want to ensure that the fiberglass and the resin have completely dried before you put the boat into the water. This may take several days to happen. So, don’t get too eager!

Your most important consideration is ensuring that the fiberglass cloth that you are using is pushed firmly down onto the wood. It is important that there are absolutely no gaps here.

If there are any gaps, then the water (especially seawater), will slowly start to push that fiberglass away from the sides of the boat which, ultimately, will end up ruining your boat. 

Final Thoughts

You do not have to fiberglass a plywood boat if you are planning on painting the boat with a marine paint.

If you are not using a marine paint, then fiberglassing the boat will help to protect the plywood. Without any sort of protection for that plywood, then the wood would start to rot, eventually ruining your boat.

Remember, if you are going to be buying fiberglass cloth and resin to fiberglass your boat, it is important that you only buy quality marine-safe products. You want the best protection for your project, right? 

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