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What are Fiberglass Boats?

By Ken Black
Updated May 23, 2024
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Fiberglass boats are boats made of a material known as glass-reinforced plastic. This material is today commonly known as fiberglass. It is material made from extremely fine fibers of glass, being interwoven into another material. In the case of watercraft, this is more often than not some type of plastic. Fiberglass as a boat material usually resembles a form of cloth until it dries.

Fiberglass boats started being used with increasing regularity throughout the 1960s, and their popularity has only continued to grow throughout the years. Today, fiberglass is the most commonly-used material for pleasure boats. They are found in all types of locations. Whether on a lake or in the ocean, fiberglass boats are used all over the world.

The main reason for the popularity of fiberglass boats is due to the durability of fiberglass. Unlike wooden boats or metal boats, fiberglass boats will not rot or rust. Therefore, their life expectancies far exceed these traditional materials used in boat construction. Further, fiberglass boats are usually a lighter weight and stiffer than boats made from other types of materials.

This is one reason why these types of boats are so valuable to pleasure boaters. Fiberglass boats take less energy to run, because they do not weigh as much and therefore do not create as much resistance in the water. Further, because they are light, they do not sit down in the water as much when moving slowly or when stopped. This can be a great advantage to fishermen when fishing in shallower waters.

Fiberglass boats are made by first applying the a gel coating to a mold. Once this coating hardens, the fiberglass is then laid down next, usually in several coats. This also must go through a hardening process. Once that is done, the hull is separated from the mold and then combined with other parts of the boat, such as the interior lining and the deck. This completes the boat building process. Often, modern boats also have a foam or balsa core as well, though this is not necessary for a boat to be classified as fiberglass.

Due to the technology and equipment involved in building fiberglass boats, there are substantial costs involved in making such a craft. The way boat manufacturers are able to provide affordable fiberglass boats is through economies of scale. Therefore, most fiberglass boats are impractical to make by anyone but a professional boat manufacturer.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Oceana — On Oct 21, 2011

@seag47 - Painting is about the only way to fix your fiberglass boat once it shows signs of aging. Special fiberglass boat paint has to be used, and you will want to hire a professional to do it.

I hired a boat repair company to paint my fiberglass boat. They told me that even though the gel I had used claimed to be resistant to fading, it was a low quality gel. Had I splurged and bought the best kind, the boat would not have faded.

The painter sprayed a urethane finish onto my boat. He told me to clean and wax it once a year. He said that if I did this, the finish could last for over fifteen years.

By seag47 — On Oct 20, 2011

I have a fiberglass boat, and I know that the guy who made it used a gel coating that was supposed to resist sunlight. However, it has become chalky and faded, and I’ve only had it two years.

Does anyone know what I can do to fix it? One person suggested that I paint it, but I don’t know if that’s a good idea or not.

I really don’t know very much about boats, so I would like to hear from someone who does. I don’t want to paint it and wind up ruining it somehow.

By Perdido — On Oct 20, 2011

I used to think that fiberglass boats were the same thing as glass bottom boats. I had been on a glass bottom tourist boat before to view the marine life below, so I automatically associated fiberglass with regular glass. My friend with a fiberglass boat set me straight, though.

He bought this boat because he had experienced a lot of problems with rust on his old boat. He had heard that fiberglass would not rust, and that was like a dream come true for him.

When I first saw his boat, I was surprised that it wasn’t see-through. I felt a little silly that I thought that all these years.

By kylee07drg — On Oct 19, 2011

I have ridden in several different types of boats, and I have to say that fiberglass is my favorite. With boats made of this material, it’s like they belong on the water.

They glide across it so gracefully, and they don’t sink as low as other boats. My friend’s fiberglass boat is lightweight enough that the two of us can easily lift it to load it onto her truck.

I didn’t know before reading this that the plastic had glass woven into it. I really had no idea how fiberglass was made, but now I can tell my friend more about her boat than she knows.

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