DIY Boat Kits: Are They Worth It?

DIY Boat Kits: Are They Worth It?

Owing a boat offers some amazing benefits.

It allows you to try fun water sports such as fishing, boating, and scuba diving, etc. You can try these recreational activities on a weekend, holiday, or whenever you feel bored.

Boating also enables you to develop an array of useful skills including teamwork, navigating outside your comfort zone, assessing the wind direction, and many more.

Having a boat helps you slow down, reconnect with nature, and break free from the stressors of daily life.

If you are already the proud owner of a boat, or want to buy one and are doing intensive research on it, you may have heard about the “DIY boat kit”. Well, what is it?

And should you be investing in it?

Let’s deal with these questions (and more) in this blog post. 

If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of DIY boat kits, we got you covered:

Boat Kits

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What Are DIY Boat Kits?

What Are DIY Boat Kits?

A DIY boat kit is a set of gear and accessories needed for building a boat. It contains all the necessary body parts of a boat – hull, deck, planks, and interior structure.

Different boat kits have different products, depending on your boat plan. For example, some boat kits come with chipboards required for building a robust beam.

If, in case, a boat plan needs the use of mylar, there are many boat kits feature that feature this sailcloth as well.

What Types of Boat Kits Are Available?

Not all boats are created the same so naturally they vary in their sizes, materials, cost, standards, etc.

Different boat kits have different boatbuilding materials – wood (plywood or epoxy), GRP (Glass-Reinforced-Plastic or fiberglass), aluminum, steel, or ferrocement. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each of these boat materials separately.

Plywood Boats

Pros

Using marine plywood has many advantages. Starting with – its ability to deal with moisture. Unlike many wood types, plywood is designed to resist water.

The wood’s top surface is layered with a special glue that keeps the moisture from entering the wood and corroding it away.

Plywood is highly pliable too. This means that the wood can easily be bent and yet maintain its structural robustness. It doesn’t crack or break down during its application.

Marine plywood is also impact resistant. If the plywood boat runs into something hard, it won’t break or dent. With this type of wood, you will get excellent finishing. You won’t have to worry about the boat sustaining any stains and scratches.

Cons

Plywood usually needs additional enhancements to make it effective and powerful. For instance, plywood boats that do not feature BWR waterproof grade may destroy the vessel’s layers and tear them apart.

Epoxy Boats

Epoxy Boats

Pros

Epoxy has an ability to withstand degradation from water penetration. Even though the wood can absorb water, it doesn’t lead to quality loss. Instead, it stays durable and long-lasting.

Epoxies are hard and strong which makes them an ideal pick for constructing boats. In tough weather conditions, epoxy boats won’t disappoint you. They are designed to withstand wear and tear and maintain their finishing with proper coating.

Epoxy is also easy to work with. The wood is easy to cut and is quick to install. So, building a boat by yourself won’t be difficult if you use the epoxy boat kit.

Another great quality of the epoxy boat is that it doesn’t have any major maintenance needs. Since it prevents wear and tear, chips and cracks, looking after this kind of boat is no challenge.

Cons

One of the disadvantages of epoxy is that it is expensive. So, you will usually find epoxy boat kits costlier than the regular ones. This wood type also has poor resistance to harmful UV rays.

It also doesn’t bond well with Gelcoat and is more sensitive to windy and rainy weather conditions. However, most epoxy boats feature additional adhesives to help prevent them from environmental factors. 

GRP Boats

GRP Boats

Pros

One of the best advantages of glass reinforced plastic boats is that they are resistant to corrosion. GRP boats are durable, last for years, and can prove to be a good value for money.

You can use them in all sorts of weather conditions, without leading to any wearing down. Another great aspect of glass-reinforced plastic boats is its low weight.

GRP boats weigh half the weight of aluminum and steel. Even though these boats are super light, they boast high strength properties.  The boat’s being robust yet lightweight is its selling point indeed.

Cons

GRP boats can be difficult to maintain. Even though you won’t find any problem in building GRP boats yourself, you may be introduced to new problems. For instance, you may need hot curing or the removal of rivets.

Fiberglass Boats

Pros

Fiberglass is quite malleable. This means you won’t find any difficulty in molding the material in any shape you like. It is a great option for custom boat construction.

You can easily create straight, clean lines. The material is also quick and easy to clean and thus poses no difficulty in its maintenance. You won’t have to worry about rivets or welds corroding away.

Cons

If not used carefully, fiberglass boats can crack easily, resulting in minor repair costs. Plus, it also falls on the more expensive side of the spectrum. As compared to other boat materials, this one is slightly heavier.

Aluminum Boats

Aluminum Boats
Hewlett-Packard

Pros

Aluminum boats are usually more modern and stylish in design. They are also stronger than any other boat type. Hence, this boat type will prove to be a long-lasting investment.

The aluminum boat kits generally come with a lifetime hull warranty. This means you won’t have to stress over the boat’s maintenance and life span.

Cons

Keep in mind it is not so easy to navigate aluminum boats. Professionals can only manage to handle this boat type.

The aluminum hull also makes a lot of noise against the water so the boat won’t entirely offer a peaceful boat ride. Corrosion is another common problem for aluminum boats which usually occurs when under-maintained.

Steel Boats

Steel Boats

Pros

Steel is affordable as compared to aluminum. So, you will find steel boat kits budget-friendly and worth investing in as well. It doesn’t easily corrode away and not at all if completely protected and painted.

Steel hulls are more stable and have structural weight so they are more reliable and offer a more comfortable ride.

Cons

The maintenance cost of steel boats is very high. Rusting of steel may require the use of expensive paints, incurring high maintenance expenses.

What Is the Average Cost of DIY Boat Kits?

What Is The Average Cost Of DIY Boat Kits?

DIY boat kits cost cheaper than buying ready-made boats. This is one of the popular reasons why people with a limited budget consider building their own boats.

With plenty of time to spare and skill for construction, custom boat kits can prove to be quite a bounty. So, exactly how much do these boat kits cost? The price of DIY boat kits varies largely, depending on the brand and items the kits include.

A custom boat kit typically ranges from $800 – $3500. However, the more the equipment the boat kit has, the expensive it is.

Keep in mind – it’s all too easy to over-complicate a boat, leading to an exponential spike in your overall boat expense. A simple boat kit that enables you to build a basic yet effective boat will never weigh you down financially.

Boat-Building Tips

Amateurs may get overwhelmed when constructing a boat for the first time. Here are a few tips that can help ensure a smooth process for building a boat using a DIY boat kit:

  • Make sure the kit has full-length planks. Short planks are an indication of the poor, degraded material is used.
  • Always use 105 Resin/207 Special Coating Hardener to provide clear finishing to your wood and enhance its beauty.
  • When dealing with wood surfaces, always sand between each coat of finish. In case any dust gets into the coating, smooth it over with the next coat.
  • The beam of a flat-bottomed vessel should be only half the length. If constructing a boat for rowing or sailing, the length should be 2 ½ or thrice the size of the beam.
  • Flat-bottomed boats need to have a vast centerboard area while round-bottomed boats need less area.

Conclusion

Investing in the right boat kit can add a great value to your custom boat-building process. Make sure that you are also well-equipped with all the other necessary tools and skills for building the perfect boat!