Marine Plywood is a renowned material when it comes to the construction of boats. Whether it’s cabin cruises, pontoon boats, or any water-based vehicle, they are mostly made from marine Plywood.
There are several grades and qualities in marine Plywood which directly affects its cost.
Why Marine Plywood
The material has a high tolerance for moisture. Also, it doesn’t rot that quickly. So, the interior of your boat won’t wear out too soon. Therefore, it’s an ideal construction material. Understandably, it is much more expensive than the other materials.
Marine Plywood Alternatives
If you’re looking for cheaper yet effective construction material for your boat, I will tell you some fantastic alternatives to Marine Plywood. These materials can help you construct an economical but long-lasting boat for your fishing and other water adventures.
Fiber Cement Board
Fiber cement board is one of the most preferred alternatives for boat construction. It’s a combination of cement and wooden fibers. For better strength, the FCB combination has smaller wooden fibers.
These fibers are brought together with cement to provide extra strength and durability.
Because of cement, there is better moisture resistance. Moreover, it can provide extra support to build the walls and ceilings out of this material.
Furthermore, because its lightweight, you can also make the interior décor such as cabinets with FCB.
It’s a versatile option if you want to construct the entire boat out of one material. As compared to regular hardwood, it’s much lighter yet equally powerful.
One of the added benefits of FCB is flexibility. It’s easier to bend so that you can use it for curved surfaces as well.
Most parts of your boat are bound to get wet. So, the Fiber Cement board becomes an excellent option to resist moisture. It’s cheaper than other alternatives and more comfortable to work with.
Medium Density Fiberboard
Fiberboards are becoming an increasingly popular replacement for most types of wood. It’s because they are so much lighter and efficient. Also, they are more durable and cost-efficient. Medium Density Boards, in particular, are a much-preferred choice for boat constructions.
Medium Density Fiberboards are constructed from softwood fibers. These are tiny fibers that bind together with wax resin.
It’s not entirely wood, but the composition makes it very strong and more flexible than regular timber. Since it uses resin-based bonding, it’s exceptionally resistant to moisture.
Wax resin is a robust material in terms of strength. So, you can imagine the fiberboard strength. Once created, standard wooden sheets are made from them. Then, the sheets must bear high pressure and heat that gives them extra strength and flexibility.
I love the fact that the fiberboard is so light. It can help build supports, walls, ceilings, and the boat deck. Moreover, you can also design your interior cabinets and furniture for a flawless boating experience.
If you’re looking for something economical, Birch Plywood can be a suitable option. Birch plywood has vast applications for boat part construction. However, these parts cannot be fully submerged in water. Submersion reduces the material’s durability.
Birch Plywood uses B/BB grade wood that comes from Northern Europe. The birch trees have a ring-like composition that gives them extra strength and durability.
Moreover, Northern Europe is generally cold throughout, so these trees grow in a cold climate.
Birch Plywood is an excellent choice for making boat interiors. They lose durability with continuous exposure to moisture. Therefore, they are suited to making the boat interior and furniture. You can make veneers and cores for Plywood.
One of the qualities of Birch Plywood is that it’s much purer than the other alternatives. There is very little addition of chemicals, so it has a high concentration of solid and natural wood.
Ribbon Grain Plywood
Ribbon Grain Plywood has an interesting composition. It has patterns of grains that take the shape of ribbons, so its design looks quite interesting. If you buy Ribbon grain sheets, you will see grain stripes that run along the wood’s length.
Unlike other alternatives, Ribbon Grain has a very smooth surface. It reduces the need for polishing and smoothing after installation.
Therefore, it becomes an economical and time-saving option for boat construction.
Ribbon Grain Plywood is a combination of Cores and Veneers. Although it’s artificial, it looks like real wood.
Moreover, the cross-grain pattern gives more strength and shock resistance to the material. Hence, you can build an entire boat out of this material.
In addition to strength, Ribbon Grain is much cheaper than marine Plywood. However, the durability isn’t as good, but it’s an economical option if you don’t go boating too frequently.
Exterior Grade Plywood
Plywood comes in many grades and qualities. The Exterior Grade Plywood builds the exterior of your boats. Hence, you can imagine its tolerance to moisture and harsh environment.
However, this Plywood isn’t as visually engaging, and you can see the defects. So, it requires some polishing and smoothing.
Other than building the exterior, you can also design the interior of your boat. However, it can be costly because of reconditioning. It’s not too heavy and highly water-resistant because of its composition.
Talking of composition, the Exterior Plywood has a fully waterproof glue coating. Also, there is varnish and paint coating.
It enhances the durability of the material. Understandably, it’s much more expensive than the other materials.
Multiple coatings allow the material to fight-off harsh weather. Therefore, these sheets are not only used in boats for buildings and construction sites too. However, it takes some expertise to choose the right sheets.
Because you can see the visual defects, it is essential to choose the best sheets out of the lot.
3M Reinforced Polyurethane Foam Board
Foam boards are the material of the future. The 3M Reinforced Polyurethane Foam board is a specialized material for boat construction.
Because of foam material, it’s very light, and you can use it to set up the boat structure.
It’s rot-resistant too, so your boat life can extend by a few years. The material composition suggests that it has reinforced fiberglass. Hence, it’s so light and easier to install. As compared to conventional materials, it can be 60% lighter.
Among all the materials for boat construction, the Polyurethane foam Board rates are very high, and there are obvious reasons for it. The Foam boards come in different densities. So, the board density directly affects the cost.
Right now, the lightest board weighs 15 pounds per cubic foot, while the heaviest being 28 pounds per cubic foot.
While working with artificial material, you don’t have to deal with uneven surfaces. Therefore, foam boards are handy because they are smooth and level. The material doesn’t chip off, and there is no warping.
Foam boards are very easy to work with. You can easily install it in the boat interior and exterior as well.
Wax Resin Fiberboard
Wax Resin fiberboards are another excellent substitute for Marine Plywood. This material has a strong composition. It’s lightweight and highly durable, so it’s used for industrial-grade applications as well.
Many of the boat construction industries use Was Resin because it has all the ingredients for making high-quality and durable boats.
If we dissect a wax-resin board, we will see small softwood fibers mixed with Wax Resin. Hence, there is better moisture tolerance and reliable strength.
The bonded wood is cut into sheets and then pressurized at a high temperature. As a result, the wooden sheets are much more robust, denser, and moisture resistant.
Some processes consist of hydrogen bonding. As an alternative to resin, hydrogen combines the softwood fibers.
Hydrogen bonding allows the lignin material to bind the wooden fibers naturally. So, you don’t need an external gluing agent. Also, the hydrogen-bonded thread is even more robust and durable than resin-based wool.
Wax Resin fiberboards have commercial uses as well. So, the material is readily available for bulk buying and DIY projects.
King Starboard uses high-density polyethylene to construct industrial-grade Plywood. This Plywood is an alternate for marine Plywood because of cheaper cost. The manufacturer says that they have a proprietary process called K-Stran, which is used to develop this Plywood.
King Starboard addresses all the possible needs of a marine-grade construction.
The material is quite strong and immune to discoloring. Moreover, it doesn’t rot, and the lamination doesn’t peel off. Therefore, you can save time, money, and effort on this marine plywood alternative.
King Starboard has a remarkable finish on both sides. So, you don’t need to polish or laminate the material after installation. The sheets have a matte finish, having a consistent and leveled surface.
King Starboard is easy to work with. You can use conventional woodworking tools. Compared to fiberglass, it is cheaper and equally effective.
Thermo Lite Board
Thermo-Lite boards are an alternative to Marine Plywood because of lightweight and sturdy construction.
According to the manufacturer, Thermo Lite Boards can be the material of the future. In addition to boat construction, Thermo Lite boards have several applications in industrial setups.
This material is ideal for boat manufacturing. Moreover, it is rot-free, so it is there to last for ages.
I like how light this Plywood is. So, you can design the interior, ceilings, and walls out of it too.
Thermo-lite has a non-absorbent composition. So, it adds to material stability, giving it more strength and durability. It is excellent at absorbing high impacts and doesn’t wear off in extreme temperatures.
If you are looking to replace or upgrade your construction material, the Thermo-Lite boards can be the right option. Not only boats, but you can customize your motor homes and houses too.
Weather and Boil Proof Plywood
As the name suggests, the WBP Plywood comprises a highly resistant design to withstand harsh temperatures and weather conditions. The material composition consists of at least thin veneers glued together. The sheets are glued so that the grains are at a right angle.
For each sheet, there is an odd number of veneers. It uses a cross-hatching technique for joining the sheets together. As a result, the Plywood is more robust, lighter, and more durable.
WBP plywood uses premium melamine glue. Therefore, it efficiently fights off high temperatures. The sheets can stay in boiling waters for up to 20 hours. So, if you wish to go boating in hot streams, the WBO Plywood is just what you need.
While choosing the right alternative for the marine board, you must be fully aware of how you want to use the material. Based on the application, anyone of the mentioned alternatives can be handy for your DIY project. However, never compromise on durability and strength because you will need that anyway.
Flexibility and smoothness depend on two things. You want to upgrade the structure or customize your boat. For instance, you might need more flexible material for reshaping your deck. On the other hand, you will need sturdier material for making walls and ceilings, etc.
Whatever the need might be, you know your materials, so it should not be a problem anymore.