Flush latches are low-profile closures without exposed hardware. They are used by many boat manufacturers on access doors, livewell lids, glove boxes, drawers and more. Boat Outfitters offers a wide selection of Gemlux and Southco flush slam latches. » Read More
What Are Flush Latches?
Flush door latches or flush mount latches are latches that mount mostly inside a hole bored in the door or hatch, rising only a small distance above the deck or outer door surface. This not only gives the hatch or door a streamlined appearance, but also makes it safe and comfortable to walk on. Flush transom door latches also mount mostly inside the door but at the edge, rather than away from the edge.
Flush Mount Slam Latches
Most of our selection of flush mount hatch and door latches are slam latches, meaning they latch automatically when closed. Much like a door in your home, a spring-loaded, wedge-shaped latch bolt clicks into place when the hatch or door is closed. Pulling on the exterior handle retracts the latch bolt, allowing the hatch or door to open. The most common alternatives to slam latches are cam or compression latches, which require twisting the handle to secure the door or hatch.
Flush Mount Slam Latch Materials
Slam latches for boats are available in either cast stainless steel or plastic. Both are highly resistant to corrosion. Stainless steel is significantly more expensive but also more robust and, in most boaters’ view, more attractive. Plastic latches are perfectly sufficient for most applications, though, and some boat owners actually prefer a matte black, white or off-white plastic latch to the polished silver finish of stainless.
Non-Locking and Locking Flush Slam Latches
Most of our flush slam latches are available with or without a key locking mechanism. A lock obviously provides an additional layer of security for hatches and doors that contain valuable items like electronics, fishing tackle, tools, etc. At the same time, locking latches cost more, and the key is one more thing you have to keep track of.
It should be noted, also, that the locks on these latches do not provide the same level of security as, for example, a home entry door lock. Keys are simple and often interchangeable. While a locked slam latch will slow down or deter a casual thief, you should not depend on these locks alone to protect high-dollar fishing tackle or electronics.
Our Deluxe Stainless Steel Locking Flush Latch from SouthCo and the Stellar Series Stainless Steel Flush Latch from Gemlux use more robust locking mechanisms and better keys.
Flush Mount Transom Door Latches
Flush mount transom door latches are recessed into the edge of a transom door, much like a home pocket door handle is mounted. Available for various door thicknesses, they provide easy opening and positive latching of transom doors for access to swim platforms. These latches are original equipment for many boat builders, including Sea Ray.
Slam Latch Design Variations
The “standard” slam latch for boats has a round footprint, fits in a round 2” cutout, and opens with a ring-style handle. When the ring is lifted upward with a finger, the latch opens. There are numerous variations on this basic design though. Some are purely aesthetic and others are functional too.
Slim Line Flush Latch
The Slim Line latch fits in the same standard 2” cutout as most flush latches but features a different handle design. Instead of a ring that lifts up, it uses a curved central bar. Functionally, it is identical to the “standard” slam latch but does provide a noticeable different look.
Bird Style Flush Latch
Like the Slim Line Latch, the Bird Style Flush Latch is functionally the same as a standard flush latch but has a different handle/pull design, in this case a graceful T-shaped handle reminiscent of a bird’s outline. It is most comfortably opened with two fingers. These latches are original equipment for many boat builders, including Scout.
Gemlux Stellar Series Flush Latch
Our “Outfitter’s Choice,” this Gemlux latch offers a slightly different design and profile than SouthCo latches. It features beveled edges, an enlarged finger opening and, in locking versions, a covered keyhole and robust locking mechanism.
Flush Face Slam Latches
With flush exterior faces (no visible finger hole), latches like out Stainless Steel Slam Latch with Nylon Housing are ideal for applications where they are frequently stepped on. The also provide a unique, refined appearance when installed. These latches also feature durable nylon housings for their mechanisms and are available in both water resistant and waterproof versions for use in applications like floor compartments and livewell lids.
Square Footprint Slam Latches
These Grand Series square stainless boat latches still mount in a round cutout but offer a very different appearance. They mount in 1.75” holes instead of the standard 2” holes, except for the Square Mini Latch, which requires only a 1.5” hole. Square boat latches are available in locking and non-locking versions.
Grand Series Stainless Boat Latches
Available in round and square footprints, Grand Series latches are original equipment for many boat manufacturers, including Regal. They require a smaller cutout than most SouthCo or Gemlux latches — 1.75” vs 2” — and offer a different, more angular and modern face design.
Privacy Door Slam Latch
Ideal for access doors to step-down consoles with porta potties or head compartments, this latch combines slam latch functionality with a comfortable inside pull handle. It can be locked with a key from outside or with level for inside for privacy.
How to Install Flush Mount Slam Latches
Most flush mount slam latches are easy to install. They essentially “sandwich” the hatch or door between two separate parts and tighten with two bolts. If you’re replacing an existing latch with an identical one — or even upgrading from a plastic latch to stainless latch of the same size — all you need to do is fit the latch into the existing cutout and tighten the two bolts.
If you’re installing a flush latch for the first time, you’ll need to carefully measure to determine the location of the cutout relative to the edge of your hatch or door, then use a hole saw of the appropriate size to make your cutout. If the latch is mounted in cored fiberglass — which is used in many boat hatches and doors — carefully seal the sides of the cutout with epoxy to protect the foam or wood coring material from moisture.
Some boat latches incorporate integrated gaskets to keep water out. For models that don’t include a gasket, you should bed at least the outside part of the latch in a good quality marine sealant like BoatLife LifeSeal or 3M 4000 UV. Note that some sealants are incompatible with plastic. Marine silicone is a good choice for plastic latches.
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