A forum member is in the process of building a 55-foot pontoon-style houseboat and is wondering if anyone has any ideas:
lady samara: I'm looking for the most reasonably priced solution. If I use marine-grade plywood as a core and gel coat all sides (two layers on each side), would anybody know the life expectancy of that?
42 gibson: I redid two pontoon-style houseboats and used 3/4-inch marine-grade plywood on both. I didn't put anything on the decks except carpet or seal the wood in any way. One is 15 years old and the other is 17 years old and still very solid. We now have a 44 Gibson which is in Cincinnati having a complete new roof put on it. They are using some kind of new material that's guaranteed never to rot or warp. I'm not sure what it is but I can check and see. I know it’s more expensive than marine plywood.
Ike: Use marine plywood, coated with epoxy on all sides, especially the edges. Cover with a four ounce fiberglass cloth. Should last as long as the boat.
Endurance: I have a pontoon boat with 1/8-inch aluminum deck. The thin aluminum works okay because I have 2-inch aluminum cross members on 12-inch centers. There is outdoor carpet glued down to the aluminum. The carpet is similar to what you'd glue down on a concrete patio. While the carpet over aluminum isn't bad, I am thinking I will remove the aluminum and replace it with composite decking like Trex or AZEK. With close cross members, you can use the thinner 3/4-inch composite decking.
Stmbtwle: I decked mine with 3/4-inch PT plywood and several coats of prime and latex “deck” paint. I've had to repair some rot over the past 15 years but all things considered (including cost), I'm happy with it. If I were to fiberglass it, I would NOT fiberglass the underside; any moisture that gets in through screw holes or other penetrations/flaws needs a way to get out.
Do you have experience with a DIY deck job? Jump on our forum page at www.houseboatmagazine.com/forum and share your advice.