Does Boat Carpet Have to Be Glued?

It certainly pays to research sailing charters around the Caribbean, andon a recent outing about a luxury Caribbean based yacht, I got into an interesting conversation about boat carpet, and learned a lot of tips which I will put to good use on my own much smaller boat. Marine carpet — like that in your boat — is a special grade of carpet and, like most boat flooring; it’s probably glued in place with a special marine carpet adhesive. It wears under the stresses of sun and water. If it’s permanently glued to your boat, it’s inconvenient to clean. If glued to a false floor, however, it can be removed to avoid giving mold a starting place over the boat’s winter storage.

Carpet the Deck

Marine carpet is routinely glued directly to the boat’s fiberglass deck using a marine carpet adhesive. The method most often used — spreading the adhesive and laying the carpet as the adhesive is applied — is the same method used for vinyl carpeting. Unfortunately, even marine carpet succumbs to extensive exposure to water and sun. This means the carpet eventually requires replacement. Marine carpet adhesive, if properly applied, is both tenacious and will outlast the carpet. If it’s permanently attached to the fiberglass, removal may not only mean removing the carpet, but making extensive repairs to the fiberglass deck.

Maintaining a Permanent Carpet

Because it’s intended for use in a marine environment, boat carpet sheds water quickly when new, but as it ages, its ability to do so will be compromised by the elements of the marine environment. During the boating season, you may recognize a slight smell of mildew when you uncover the boat. If the carpet is glued to the fiberglass deck, you can’t remove the carpet to scrub it with sodium hypochlorite, the agent most often used against mold and mildew. Even if you do the best you can, eventually you must replace it.

Carpet the False Deck

An alternative to gluing the carpet directly to the deck is to use marine carpet adhesive to attach the carpet to plywood sheets. The plywood sheets are then secured to the fiberglass deck by a screw in each corner. A variation on this is a false deck, mounted to a pallet like structure so there is a space beneath the plywood. The carpet is then applied to the top of the false deck. The false deck can be installed and removed by lifting a corner.

Installation Without Glue

When you want to add carpet to your boat, there are alternatives to marine carpet adhesive. One is the ubiquitous hook-and-loop fastener, sold in strips that may have an adhesive backing. The problem is that the adhesive is weak and not water-resistant. The hook of hook-and-loop strips can be attached to back of the carpet with marine carpet adhesive, though, and the loop part of the system attached to the deck with flat-head screws. This method of attachment allows you to remove the carpet for cleaning and maintenance and reduces the potential for mold growth in your boat.

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