What is a Boat Rub Rail?
The boat rub rail, also referred to as boat bumper trim or rail, is a vital structural piece of a boat that sits between the hull and the deck. Rub rails consist of two main components, the insert, and the rail. As well as acting as a joint between these two sections, it also serves another, even greater purpose.
Why is the Rub Rail Important?
The main purpose of a rub rail is to act as a shock absorber for your boat. Even if you take as much care as possible when controlling a boat, bodies of water and elements like other boats and the weather can still add a measure of unpredictability. This can cause bumps into the pilings, docks, seawalls, and other vessels. If you are new to boating, you may not realize just how often these happen. When they do, and you have rub rail in place, the rub rail helps to reduce the potential issues and absorbs most of the shock from these bumps to protect your boat’s hull, chassis, and deck, as well as the actual seam that runs between the feck cap and the bull.
Therefore, when you choose the right rub rail for your boat, you are making sure your boat is well protected.
How to Choose a Rub Rail
As you can see from the above, a boat rub rail is a very important part of your vessel. When it comes to buying a new rub rail or a replacement rub rail, you need to think carefully and consider several different factors. It’s not always quite as simple as just clicking the first one you come across.
To help you out and make your job of trying to sift through the various rub rail options there are on the market, we are going to discuss the various aspects of the rub rail you need to consider before choosing the right one. Further to that, we have made it relatively simple here at Boat Outfitters by only stocking a specific number of rub rail kits.
Rub Rail Material
First and foremost, you need to think about the rub rail material. The most readily available and popular boat rub rails are made from materials like stainless steel, semi-rigid and rigid vinyl, and aluminum. Stainless steel and aluminum obviously offer their distinct advantage of lasting longer, but vinyl is a much easier material to work with as it is more flexible. It also provides better cushioning during impacts. For the best level of protection, a combination of rigid vinyl with an overlap made from stainless steel is a great choice.
You must choose a replacement rub rail that has a similar height to the existing one. If you invest in a rub rail that is too tall, it may overhang the intended area, whereas if it is too short it could expose the deck to the hull seam it should cover.
The best way to replace an existing rub rail is to use a pencil to trace the bottom and top of it before removing it so you have a guide to follow when positioning and installing the new rub rail.
It is easy enough to select the right length of rub rail if you have an existing one already. However, if your boat is newly built or doesn’t currently have one, it is much harder to guess the correct length. You want to measure the length of area the rub rail needs to span, as well as some extra material for joints or mistakes.
That is why it is a good idea to order at least 10-feet of additional length. You can slowly and gradually cut away at length to find a good fit, but you can’t replace length if it’s too short.
Finish and Color
The color and finish of the rub rail will not really impact how effective it is at doing its job. If you want to give your boat a bit of character though, you may want to choose a color and style that contrasts with the rest of your boat. Modern rub rails allow a wide array of finishes, allowing better options when matching your boat.
Rub Rail Upgrades
Rub rails can be an opportunity to upgrade your vessel! It's common to replace the insert with a color or finish that better matches your boat. Another upgrade option is to incorporate your navigational lights into the rub rail with LED Rub Rail Navigation Lights.
Rub Rail Kits: A Convient Option
Given the nature of installing a rub rail and all the different parts that are involved alongside the rail and insert, you need to make sure you have everything you need. Rather than buying all of those parts separately, there are great boat rub rail kits available here at Boat Outfitters that come with everything you need, including the rub rail itself, the insert, fasteners, splice caps, and end caps, among many others depending on the size and style.
Commonly Asked Questions about Boat Rub Rails
If you’re having trouble finding the exact part you're looking for, the best first step is to take a picture and give us a call. Our customer service team is here Mon-Fri 8am - 5pm and would love to help you track down the exact rub rail equipment you need.
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Do I have to match my boat’s original rub rail exactly? (show/hide)