Sheet Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl sheet flooring has been used in a variety of applications for more than 80 years, but its use on ships and boats is more recent. Marine vinyl sheet flooring is durable, stain-resistant, chemical-resistant, easy to clean, and attractive. » Read More
Benefits of Sheet Vinyl Flooring for Boats
Marine vinyl sheet flooring has many benefits for boat uses. As most boat owners know, boat decks are subjected to endless abuse in the form of fish blood, sunlight, mud, and scratches from hooks and gaffs. Vinyl flooring is waterproof, stain-resistant, scratch-resistant, chemical resistant, and non-skid even when it is wet.
Besides being strong and durable, it comes in a variety of colors and finishes, allowing for endless customization in different applications. All of this, in addition to its low cost, makes it a great option for your boat.
Sheet vinyl flooring for boats is made from synthetic materials, usually polyvinyl chloride plastics, commonly referred to as PVC. The material is polymerized together, and the texture chosen for the flooring is then pressed onto the sheet. Certain manufacturers, such as Lonseal, actually photograph the “real” material the vinyl will imitate.
In the development of their Lonmarine Wood line, Lonseal had a teak deck manufactured to provide a perfect imitation of its “teak and holly” pattern. Lonmarine patterns vary in the materials they imitate, with over 10 patterns to choose from. These patterns include maple, walnut, mahogany, ivory, teak, and weathered teak.
Vinyl Flooring vs Teak
Since any image or pattern can be printed onto a marine vinyl sheet, it can visually imitate any deck material. Some of the most aesthetically pleasing materials have significant drawbacks. Vinyl flooring can replace the look of these materials with all of the benefits of vinyl. For example, teak is a classic fixture on many boats.
Teak has its benefits but also has drawbacks. Teak is heavy, weighing in at 2.2 pounds per square foot. Vinyl flooring that imitates oiled teak weighs in at less than a third of that, at 0.7 pounds per square foot. Teak can also be stained easily with fish blood, chemicals, or even spilled drinks, whereas vinyl flooring is stain and chemical resistant. One beneficial characteristic that vinyl and teak share is their non-skid grip even when wet. These factors, in combination with the cost, make vinyl an attractive option.
The difference between marine vinyl and other marine flooring material like teak shouldn’t be undersold. Vinyl Flooring that imitates teak costs just a small fraction of what real teak costs. Teak can also be difficult to install, typically requiring professional installation. Vinyl flooring is something anyone with some basic skills can install.
Sheet Vinyl Flooring vs EVA Foam
The “imitation market” has exploded in the past decade, as traditional materials are being replaced by imitations like EVA foam and marine vinyl flooring. If you have decided to use an imitation product on your boat, you have a few options.
Many faux teaks are made of EVA foam. EVA foam has its advantages but can be difficult to clean and easily stained. Vinyl flooring, on the other hand, is easy to clean and stain resistant. On the other hand, EVA foam provides more cushioning than vinyl flooring.
Marine Vinyl Sheet Drawbacks
Sheet vinyl boat flooring does have some drawbacks. It’s important to remember that not all sheet vinyl flooring products are designed for outdoor use. Be sure that the flooring you’re choosing is designed for outdoor use. Some Lonseal products, for example, such as Loncoin, Lonplate, and Lonridge, are susceptible to UV degradation.
Lonmarine Wood and Lonmarine Stone vinyl flooring, on the other hand, are designed for indoor-outdoor use. Although they are UV resistant and suitable for the majority of marine applications, they may not be the best choice if your boat is stored outdoors without a cover so that the flooring is constantly exposed to sunlight. If you store your boat with a cover, vinyl flooring could last for many years.
Sheet vinyl flooring also doesn’t provide cushioning like EVA foam and marine carpet do. This isn’t necessarily an issue, as teak, fiberglass, and aluminum don’t provide cushioning either.
Installing Vinyl Sheet Flooring on Your Boat
Installation of vinyl flooring is a little more involved than peel-and-stick foam, but less intensive than installing teak decking. Sheet vinyl flooring installation may vary from brand to brand, but these are a summary of the instructions provided by Lonseal, a popular manufacturer of marine vinyl flooring.
The prep work for installation is critical. Be sure to unroll your sheet vinyl flooring from its packaging at least eight hours before installation. This allows the material to “relax” from its rolled form, making installation easier. Be sure that the temperature you cut out your flooring is the same as you install your flooring. Vinyl flooring can shrink before installation; if you measure and cut your flooring in 75-degree weather, and try to install it in 40-degree weather, the sizing will not be the same.
Be sure that the installation surface is clean and free of anything that could disturb the epoxy bond. Any significant gouges or fastener holes will eventually show through the vinyl flooring since it will form imperfections over time. To avoid this, fill any holes or gouges with a marine grade filler, such as marine tex, or Marine RX epoxy repair.
There are instructions available online that might provide more detail and answer any questions, but here are the basic steps:
1. Carefully prepare the area you’re installing the vinyl. Be sure to remove any dust or debris, and fill any holes. If you leave anything debris on the deck, the epoxy will bond to the debris, not the deck of your boat. This could cause issues with delamination down the road.
2. Use some form of rolled paper to make a template; butcher paper is a great option. If you want to take an extra step to make sure your template is correct, you can transfer the template onto a more rigid material like cardboard to give you a better idea of how the vinyl might look.
3. Trace your template onto your unrolled flooring and cut it out. The best tool for this is a sharp utility knife. Don’t try to skimp by using a worn-out blade, a sharp blade will make for much cleaner cuts and a much nicer final product.
4. Mix the adhesive and spread it over the installation area. The best tool to spread the epoxy is a 1/16”x1/32”x1/32” notched trowel.
5. Lay the flooring onto the adhesive immediately after spreading it and use a heavy roller to work out any air pockets. For smaller areas, a heavy-duty extendable roller will suffice.
6. After waiting 2-3 hours, roll the vinyl again. This will remove any additional air pockets that might’ve formed while the adhesive cures.
7. Let the epoxy cure overnight.
8. After 24 hours, the floor is cured enough to do any trim work required. The epoxy will be cured completely 72 hours after mixing.
Lonseal does offer permanent tape as an alternative to epoxy adhesive, but it is more expensive.
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