Fiberglass boats are known for their durability and longevity, making them a great choice for anyone looking for a high-quality boat that can stand the test of time. A well-maintained fiberglass boat will typically last 40-50 years.
Made out of E-glass bonded with polyester resin, these boats are extremely strong and able to withstand the abrasive conditions of the ocean or other water bodies. Additionally, some manufacturers use Kevlar as a reinforcing material, which further enhances their durability and resilience.
So if you’re in the market for a premium quality boat that will last you for years to come, then a fiberglass boat might be just what you need. Whether you’re an avid sailor looking for your next adventure on the open ocean or just someone looking for a reliable vessel to enjoy on your local lake or river, there’s no doubt that a fiberglass boat is an excellent choice.
There are a few factors that determine how long your fiberglass boat will last. First and foremost, it’s important to keep up with regular maintenance and repairs in order to extend its lifespan. Additionally, the way you use your boat will also play a role in how long it lasts. For example, if you frequently take your boat out in rough waters or expose it to other harsh conditions, it’s likely that it won’t last as long as a boat that’s used primarily for leisurely sailing.
Let us now look in detail at factors that will help you determine how long does a fiberglass boat last:
How Well Your Fiberglass Boat Is Made
The quality of your fiberglass boat will be a major determinant of its lifespan. boats that are made with high-quality materials and construction methods are more likely to last longer than those that are not. If you’re looking for a long-lasting fiberglass boat, make sure to do your research and choose a reputable brand or builder.
Handlaid fiberglassing under controlled factory conditions will usually result in a stronger, longer-lasting hull than one made with chopped strand mat (CSM) or woven roving. These are the two most common types of fiberglass used in boat construction.
While CSM is less expensive and easier to work with, it doesn’t provide the same level of strength and durability as hand-laid fiberglass. Woven roving is stronger than CSM, but it’s also more difficult to work with and can add significant weight to your boat.
The type of resin used is also important. Polyester resin is the most common type of resin used in boat construction, but it’s not as strong or durable as epoxy resin. As such, boats made with polyester resin are more likely to suffer from osmotic blistering (a condition caused by water seeping into the hull and causing the formation of blisters).
Lesser tensile strength is another issue with polyester resin. This can lead to cracking and other forms of hull damage, particularly in areas where the boat is subject to stress, such as at the keel or where the hull joins the deck.
Epoxy resin, on the other hand, is much stronger and more durable than polyester resin. It has excellent resistance to osmotic blistering and can withstand much higher levels of stress. As such, boats made with epoxy resin are more likely to last longer than those made with polyester resin.
The quality of the gelcoat is also important. Gelcoat is a thick, protective coating that’s applied to the hull during construction. It helps to protect fiberglass from UV damage, abrasion, and other forms of wear and tear.
Does Your Fiberglass Boat Have Closed Cell Foam?
Closed-cell foam is often used in the construction of fiberglass boats. This type of foam is filled with tiny gas bubbles, which makes it much more resistant to water absorption than open-cell foam.
Using other forms of foam can result in water absorption and significant weight gain, as well as reduced hull strength. As such, boats that are made with closed-cell foam are more likely to last longer than those that are not.
Keeping a close eye on your boat floatation is one of the most important things you can do to help extend its lifespan.
How Long Your Fiberglass Boat Is Sitting in Water
Keeping your boat in the water for an extended period of time can lead to a number of problems, including hull damage, osmotic blistering, and Gelcoat deterioration.
UV rays can penetrate through freshwater and cause damage to your boat’s hull, deck, and other surfaces. This is why it’s important to keep your boat covered or stored in a garage or shed when it’s not in use.
If you must keep your boat in the water, be sure to give it a good rinse with fresh water after each use. This will help to remove salt, dirt, and other debris that can lead to hull damage.
Quite often, the first sign of hull delamination is a soft spot in the hull. This is usually caused by water seeping into the hull and causing the bonding between the layers of fiberglass to break down. Structural deformity is the worst-case scenario when it comes to hull delamination.
If you suspect that your boat has hull delamination, it’s important to have it inspected by a qualified marine surveyor or boat builder as soon as possible. If the problem is caught early, it may be possible to repair it. However, if the delamination is severe, it may be necessary to replace the entire hull.
Regular Waxing of the Gelcoat
One of the best ways to protect your boat’s gel coat is to wax it on a regular basis. This will help to create a barrier against UV rays, salt water, and other elements that can cause damage.
It’s important to use a high-quality marine wax specifically designed for gelcoat. These products typically contain ingredients that will help to restore the shine and protect the gelcoat from further damage.
It’s also a good idea to wax your boat before storing it for the winter. This will help to prevent the gelcoat from drying out and cracking.
Proper Maintenance and Repair of Any Damage
It’s important to properly maintain your boat and repair any damage that occurs. This will help to prevent further damage and extend the lifespan of your boat.
If you notice any cracks, holes, or other damage, it’s important to have them repaired as soon as possible. Ignoring these problems will only make them worse and could lead to hull delamination or gelcoat deterioration.
Simple fiberglass kits are available for making small repairs, or you can take your boat to a qualified marine repair facility.
Storing Your Boat in a Safe Location
When not in use, it’s important to store your boat in a safe location. This will help to protect it from wind, rain, snow, and other elements that could cause damage. Proper ventilation is also important to prevent mold and mildew from growing inside the boat.
Boat lifts and covers can also be used to help protect your boat while it’s stored. These products can help to keep your boat clean and dry, which will extend its lifespan.
Fiberglass boats are built to last, but they still require proper care and maintenance to stay in good condition. By following the tips above, you can help to extend the lifespan of your boat and keep it looking like new for years to come. The construction type of your boat will also play a role in how long it lasts. For example, boats that are made with fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) will usually last longer than those that are not. Keeping a close eye on your boat floatation is one of the most important things you can do to help extend its lifespan.