Doug’s Workshop: Part ONE: Materials Overview

Guest post by:  Doug Westover.   Chapter ONE in a series.
I have heard it said that:  “building a boat is the most worthwhile thing you can do with money”.
I would have to agree.  Especially if you get to use that boat afterwards!So, once bitten by the ” DIY boat bug”, there are only  two significant  questions:
1. What do I build?and
2. What method and material do I build it in?

There is good news and bad news in  both of these questions, and Ill cover a little on both but  I would like to focus on the latter of the two.

So why would anyone build a boat when they can buy?
Well, for one, when you build, you get exactly what you want.
I often laugh, at the foolishness of the mindset that ” it is easier, cheaper and quicker  to buy a used boat and fix it up than to build a new one”.
Usually this argument comes up from people who have never done it. The thing is , when you buy a “handyman’s” special. You are in for twice the work than building a new boat, unless you get the holy grail of deals, which you would have about the same odds of finding horse gorse. Many people today are what I call: GOLD CRAPPERS…That is, some folks, really think their uh… junk…is  gold.
Singing :   “now I ain’t saying you no gold crapper…”  ……. sung to the tune  from  “Gold digger” by Kanye West.
If buying a used boat to restore,  it’s unlikely you will  find a good deal. What you are  more apt to find is someone else’s problem.
 It seems there is an epidemic happening. People do not want to sell their stuff for what its really worth, and those who are willing to buy, won’t pay the exorbitant prices for it.
 Of course, everyone has to learn the hard way. If you go that route, you will soon realize,  the unbelievable mess you have gotten yourself into. I personally  have seen hundred of projects listed for sale, all stating the same thing. The story is almost invariably, about how they started the project,  that it became too much for them, and now they want out. I find it sad to see so many dreams fail.
 When you factor in the amount of work and money  in getting the hull surveyed, stripping the boat down to bare hull,  repairing the hull, rebuilding the whole boat…essentially, by the time your done, you have built two boats. One that you took apart, and the one you put back together!
Building a boat is a joyous event. It is freeing, it gives purpose. It is fulfilling and it is rewarding at the end. On top of that it is an expression of creativity. It has been said that… “nothing you ever do in life will be significant, but it is important that you do it anyway!”
I agree, with one exception. I would change that to…”nothing you ever do is significant…except building a boat of your dreams!”The good news of course is, that when you build a boat, you are the master! You get to decide everything. The downside to this is: You get to decide everything.So to help avoid that old boatbuilding affliction, “analysis paralysis”, I am hoping this overview of materials can help unravel the mind numbing process of what material is right for YOU.
                                                                                     ~~~  “All people must wear size 10 shoes” !If you seriously consider the above statement then you are probably scratching your head a little…

After all what do shoes have to do with boat building anyway?

Well, the reality is many designers/builders would have you think everyone must wear size 10 shoes. In this case of course we are talking about boat materials and methods. Every designer has his pet material.   While it is true that a designer must prepare the plans in the material he has set out in the design, no one method or material will suit every builder.

There are just too many variables; Available building site, space, finances,  location, weather, availability of material, costs, boat type, the wife(or husband),  skill level etc. and the list goes on…

But let’s start with the basics and go from there. I hope this can aid in making an informed decision. By doing so, it increases the odds of ending up right where you want to be- on the water, away from the hassles, the noise, and  enjoying a cold one, watching the sunset, and listening to the waves kiss the hull.

If your going to build a Shantyboat, or any boat for that matter, then you have to figure out what to build it in.

I will list MY hull material preferences in order. It is a great exercise to do for yourself too,  if you are contemplating building your own hull. It should be something you feel comfortable to work with. Not based on the design or the designers preference unless absolutely necessary. All materials have good and bad points. There is no “perfect”.  There is only an ideal that You the builder decides upon.  Lastly, contrary to popular belief, many designs can be converted to other appropriate materials and/or methods. It just takes a bit of ingenuity. Something we all possess.

NB: I am basing this on the assumption that I am building a houseboat hull and not a racing hydro, or jet boat, tug boat or any other type of  high stress  vessel. However that does not mean these can’t be used for any of these vessels.

My happy list of materials(in order of like)!
1. wood- stitch and glue or cored
2. welded steel
3. standard frp
4. cored frp
5. aluminum
6. ferro-cement (yes it absolutely is an option).
7. conventional wood.I say that steel is near the top  of my list.
I say that only because of its strength and the one thing wood and epoxy cannot compete with and that is abrasion resistance.But My favorite method to build a boat in is epoxy/ply.You see, Wood and epoxy construction, pound for pound  is actually stronger than steel.The invention of epoxy, truly is a miracle for the wooden boat builder. The advent of epoxy has changed the game across the board. Today, epoxy is a virtuous necessity in the creation of a wood vessel, even if building in conventional methods.

For this reason, wood and epoxy are at the top of the list for me.

I will remain as unbiased as possible  in stating the pro’s and con’s of the following materials.
Wood and Epoxy ply(stitch and glue or cored)
stitch and glue


1. depending on materials and level of quality, this method can be relatively inexpensive.
2. relatively  quick build times.
3. needs little skill
4. available everywhere
5. can use lower grade lumber or common lumberyard ply.*
6. practically eliminates maintenance.
7. incredibly strong and light.
8. waterproof, and if done right – rotproof!
9. high impact resistance, relative to other methods, except steel.
10. warmth( pleasant to be in or on a wood boat)
11. few tools needed.
12. pleasing to the eye, if done well.
13. little or no condensation.
14. quiet when underway or sleeping on water.
15. epoxy sticks to pretty much anything.

1. not abrasion resistant.
2. epoxy is expensive.
3. some people have allergies or develop allergies to epoxy
4. if ply is not encapsulated properly, water entering a void in the ply can create rot.
5. impacts or abrasions  must be tended to immediately or there is risk of water intrusion to the ply.
6. can be costlier than other methods due to amounts necessary to encapsulate entire vessels.
7. although not necessary, boats should be built under cover.
8. not suited to compound curvature.
9. sun can break down epoxy/and or fiberglass over time.
10. care must be taken in its use to prevent getting it on you.
11. can be time consuming if meticulous detail is required.
12. some typical wood framing especially in closed deck vessels is necessary.
13. epoxy can be difficult to work.



1. steel is the strongest material for boat building(within the means of an amateur) known to mankind.
2. It is easy to work with(if you have the right equipment)
3. arguably, fastest of all boat  build methods.
4. skills are not difficult and easily acquired
5. if properly treated, incredibly long lasting
6. a steel vessel should NEVER leak.
7. very inexpensive to buy.
8. ultra stiff in a seaway, if built properly.
10. resale value almost invariably increases.
11. steel is almost always dimensionally accurate and straight.
12. steel plate and extrusions come in variable lengths and widths.

13. easy and ultra fast  to simply weld fittings on.
1. heavy, backbreaking work.
2. the extra costs of tooling up offsets the “cheap” factor.
3. without proper sandblasting/coating,  steel “rots” too.
4. can be noisy in the water.
5. designs are limited to conic or cylindrical development. I.e. they cannot form to double or compound shapes.
8. there can be a problem of condensation due to  temperature changes.
9. requires steady maintenance.
10. susceptible to galvanic/electrolytic corrosion
11. decks in steel can heat up considerably over extended exposure to  sun.
12. may require more than two people to build.
Lets have a look at frp.Fiberglass, is probably the most common way to build a boat. Not because amateurs use it for “one-off” home builds,  but because the commercial cookie cutter boats you see zipping around lakes and rivers, are almost invariably done with frp in a mold.
I wont fully get into how frp is made or to how to build a conventional frp hull now, but I will explain a little about the basics.

Fiberglass is basically a strand of micro thin glass. This glass which is flexible and pliable, is woven up into strings and then woven  into cloth or stitched together into a fabric of sorts. I am assuming that most people reading will have some experience with fiberglass. (commonly called Fiber Reinforced Plastic or frp for short).

This material is then saturated with a polyester resin. (This is much different in chemical structure than an epoxy)Polyester resins are varied, but each resin is “cured” by way of “exothermic” reaction. What that fancy term simply means is that it creates heat by way of a chemical reaction which hardens the resin. The “curing agent” is usually, but not always a chemical called MEK or methyl ethyl ketone. This is added to the resin to cure it to a hard state.

Ill explain more on an upcoming article on frp. But for today lets just say we add some chemicals to another thicker chemical and we get a goop, that is spread onto the fiberglass mat and then hardens into a very strong and solid composite. This composite of polyester resin and fiberglass
strands creates a very thin layer, so many layers are needed and built up to create what is known as a “layup”

There are many ways to do a layup and many ways to build a boat in frp.
But for today we will refer to what is known a  single skin layup or a laminate. That is, a thick (enough)layup, built up of many layers of fiberglass cloth/and or mat and polyester resin, to form a laminate. Some people might be put off at first glance and  think frp  unrealistic for an amateur, but the truth is it is one of the simplest ways to built a boat. If you can build a wooden boat, you could probably build a fiberglass one too.

Some of you might be thinking,…” geez,  if epoxy is so good, why not use it instead?” well, that’s pretty simple to answer. The reason is: $$$!
Epoxy is presently about three times the price of polyester resin, although it is coming down in price. The advantages of epoxy vs. polyester in doing a one-off hull probably isn’t worth the extra money.

Today Ill just list the Pro’s and Con’s

FRP single skin laminate 


1. easy to build.
2. least physically demanding  of all methods.**
3. inexpensive.
4. strong and impact  resistant if done right
5. moderate weight
6. readily available materials.
7. little tooling required.
8. potentially one of the fastest methods.
9. little skills required.
10. probably least amount of after build maintenance.
11. can be very eye appealing.
12. can form to any curvature.
13. many marina’s deal with this material, i.e. common.
14. long lasting.
15. good resale value.


1. strong odor during build and lingering odor even after built.
2. difficult to mix and work.
3. hull below waterline can develop osmosis (commonly called “boat pox”)
4. tends to break down in the sun over time.
5. deck to hull joints can be complicated  and/or leaky.
6. shipping costs of large resin drums can be prohibitive, if no local source.
7. messy work.
8. prices fluctuate with oil prices.
9. must be built inside or under good cover.
10. must be worked at temperatures no less than 10 deg. Celsius.
11. getting good finish by amateur is problematic.
12. requires exhaustive sanding procedures to produce good fair finish.
13. once cured, mistakes cannot easily be undone, i.e., only one chance to get it right.

 Cored Fiberglass composites

I am not going to get into the pro’s and con’s on this. You can email me if you want to know more, for for a good starting point I highly recommend Ken Hankinson’s bible on the subject:  Fiberglass Boatbuilding for Amateurs found at Glen-l marine.  I warn you it is outdated now, but it is still a gem and although the techniques and materials have come along way since this book came out, it is still highly relevant today.

About cores.
There is a lot of debate about using coring below the waterline these days.
I believe it is a fantastic way to build a strong light boat.
In my opinion, however, It really isn’t worth the trouble of going to this kind of complexity for a one-off barge or shanty hull. Although  a lot can be said of the benefits.
 If I was going to build in core, I would make a set of pontoon perhaps. Something not too difficult.
The industry is using this method more and more, and even amateurs are getting in on the fun of vacuum bagging. But is it really worth the trouble?
 Usually these methods are used in high tech and high end vessels where high strength to weight ratio’s are important, such as racing boats or sailboats.
That being said, I did extensive testing on 3/4″ honeycomb core, for use in a  radius chined tugboat, and found out that when done to heavy scantlings, this type of hull could be almost indestructible. I abandoned the idea only because the ballast needed would take up too much space and I wasn’t willing to fork out more in lead costs than what the hull could be built for.
Core is the term for what is basically the “meat” or inner part of an  frp sandwich. The core(meat) is glassed on both sides using frp cloth.
The cloth is typically of a biaxial type, although there are many possible weights and combinations of different cloths, woven or stitched, that could be used, and it is usually up to a designer trained in the materials to give the best performance.
But being the rebel that I am, a little experimentation might give a potential builder a solid foundation of empirical results to work with.
Ill add a disclaimer here; Although it is possible to do your own guestimates of a good layup schedule, when designing your own barge or pontoon hull, there is always risk involved that you either overbuild or underbuild it, neither of which is good.
If you do it, it is at your own risk.
One of the problems with doing a cored hull, is the lack of decent plans.
It is relatively easy to convert a set of stitch and glue ply plans to core, IF you have experience in it. But not so much if your green.
So my advice, if your willing to accept it, is to just let it ride. Build in a more common material. One that is familiar to you.
I love Al. (henceforth I will be using the short from of Al. just  as it would appear on a plans bill of materials). Many people might ask why I have it so low on my list.
Truth is, it is hard not to consider it. Of course, I’m a steel guy. So I am biased. Many people would take Al. over Steel, and I don’t blame them. Its a toss up if your considering doing a metal hull. This material is the ONLY real choice for specialized vessels  such as jet boats, or commercial fishing boats.
1. Light
2. strong and rigid
3. readily available
4. good impact and adequate abrasion resistance.
5. easily cut.
6. no  special tooling required.
7. coating are unnecessary.
8. easily repaired.
9. no sandblasting required.
10. very low maintenance.
11. comes in many types and grades available to the boat builder including marine grades
12. great for a single handed worker.
13. looks great.
1. expensive
2. the most challenging of all welding skills for a boat builder.
3. bad welds make poor looking boats.
4. bad welding makes a weak hull
5. requires more expensive welding equipment.
6. extremely fast  corrosion rate  under the right conditions.
7. not as abrasion resistant as steel.
8. scantling must be thicker than steel to get the same amount of strength.
9. must have good plans for a vessel.
10. warpage and shrinkage can distort a hull easily.
11. some areas do not carry marine grade Al.
I will talk more about AL. in a later article.
I readily admit, my experience is limited with it. So  for that reason it low on my list.
ferro fishing boat
Here comes the fun stuff. I actually couldn’t wait to write about this.
Many folks who have read about it(as opposed to actually owning or building one), will have a good laugh at my suggestion of using Ferro-cement.
I am of the opinion that very long lasting and well built Shantyboat hulls could easily be built of it.
in fact the pros of it outweigh the cons by a wide margin.
I easily could have included it as a second or third choice. Only because of its labour intensive nature do I place it below Al. or Steel.
The truth is, its still relevant. It is still viable and it is still being used in many places all over the world, where the “cheap” factor is of high importance.
If you haven’t read up on FC then Ill give you a short history and expand on it in a later article.
Ferro-cement has been around since the 1840’s. It has been used to build warships, tankers, yachts and many other vessels over the last 100 years and more. The U.S. Navy built vessels out of it and even had a program in the 1970’s which  built many fishing vessels for the Bahaman fleet as a test study.
The process, is very simple. You build a formwork, either out of pipes or round bar trusses, or in some cases a simple disposable wooden mold. You then add  longitudinal stringers, and diagonal stringers.
Once this is done, you add the mesh. Here is where the fun starts.  It is highly labour intensive. You have to weave thousands of wires to attach and tighten wire mesh or “bird netting” mesh onto the formwork. This creates a “matrix” of wire and steel. The resulting matrix, which resembles a boat with thousands of holes in it, is called the “armature”.  It is into this armature that cement is forced through  then hardens sealing the armature up.
Some people believe that all the cements job  is, is  to make the whole matrix watertight.
This is not correct.
The cement does in fact, add strength to it through rigidity, upon curing. Thus when the vessel is done you have a completely monolithic and highly desirable structure.
A few years ago, I experimented with something called “Fer-a-lite”. This is basically a synthetic mortar made with polyester resin, some additives to thicken it, and used as  a replacement for common limestone cement. To me this is a miracle substance, and among builders it is highly controversial to say the least. The main dogma portended by the naysayers are “voids”. This is a real threat and careful attention must be paid to application of the chosen medium.
But I have found no great flaws in it.
To test FAL, (what is essentially a fast curing cement) I  built a curved test slab, 8 inches wide and about 8 feet long, then  wired it with 8 layers of mesh. When done it really was a thing of beauty. Strong, abrasion and impact resistant, and easy to make. I was very impressed. I’ll leave out the details of my testing until the article on it forthcoming, but suffice to say, if you want to take the time to build in it, it will be well worth the effort, in either cement or FAL.
It worked so wonderfully, that I was about to build a large 30 ft’er tug boat in it, until I got the shipping quote from the producer. Sadly, once again, the shipping costs out priced the costs of the product. For this reason, I was out. I did consider making my own. But it would have been a lot of effort to get it right, and the producer of it, likely spent a hell of a lot more time getting it right than I would have.
Other than that, I would have more than enough confidence in using it.
1. strong.
2. stiff.
3. excellent abrasion and impact resistance.
4. cost effective.
5. easy to do, no special tools or skilled work, perhaps the easiest of all boat building methods.
6. materials readily available if in cement.
7. can form to any curvature
8. insulating properties.
9. vibration dampening properties
10. easy to repair
11. fireproof, will not buckle like steel, or melt.(cement)
12. very little maintenance over prolonged periods.
13. long lasting, perhaps longest of any material.
14. sound of water on hull is also dampened.
15. condensation is less than in  steel, frp or wood.
16. more usable space  than in conventional wood framed or other methods.
17. actually lighter than steel when done properly.
1. labour intensive.
2. subject to spalling if using cement.***
3. improper attention to curing can be devastating.****
4. cement must be plastered correctly, not too thick not too thin.
5. if cement cures improperly, the whole boat must be jackhammered out and skin re-applied or the boat is landfill.
6. vessels tend to be heavier than wooden ones.
7. voids can be the materials downfall.
8. usually poor resale value.
9. difficult to find proper materials.
10. for good finishing results, professional plasterers are highly recommended.
11. voids will cause irreparable and unsightly rust stains all over hull.
12. some  curvature must be built into hull.
13. without a barrier coat of epoxy, the material will absorb a percentage of water causing the  steel armature to rust.
As you can see, It is not without flaws. I just don’t think the flaws are significant.
The material is absolutely worth looking into for a shanty boater.
The last con does bring out an important point though. It is usually necessary to build in some curvature to a hull. However, If well thought out, there is no reason, through the use of stiffening, that a flat bottom hull could not be made. The chines however must be radiused. Keep in mind, this will be a lot of extra work, take up some space in the vessel and the stiffening must be well thought out. The good news is, this helps to create something to attach a floor to.
Conventional wood frame construction
Before I get lynched or have the soles of my feet caned by the conventionalists, I will start off with my reasons for placing conventional wooden boatbuilding last on the list.Conventional wood in my opinion, is outdated. Sure there are many lasting examples of it, some over 100 years old. But not without great cost, both in finances and man hours to keep it that way, and almost without doubt, she’ll be leaky!At least in my area, gone are the days of good wood. In fact, not only are these “proper” woods hard to get but it has been a long time since  many of the tree species in my area have been plentiful. That is not to say they may still be in your area, but even  the “go to”  exotics, such as Mahogany, Teak, Sapele, and  Douglas fir, are getting more and more difficult to find.
When I was a kid, I built a 10 ft. Glen-l designed hydro for use on my lake.That was in the early 1980’s and even then, the  woods used were difficult to find. So difficult in fact, that it was necessary to substitute, many of the “called out” wood in the B.O.M for other woods. In the end my Dad and I managed to find some mahogany for the frames. But the cost of this, at the time, was in the area of $600.00. On todays market this would be three times that, perhaps more!

The quality of what you can get today is  an issue. Of course there are the exotic wood  boatbuilding  suppliers. But you might as well sell your left kidney (and your children’s) to pay for the stuff.

There are other reasons, but I’ll focus on the biggie.

The truth is that not so good wood, leads to a not so great boat, for one simple reason:
Rot!Who reading this has not been affected in some way by rot? I’m not even talking about boats.
 I’m talking sheds, houses, buildings, decks, roofs, barns, fencing  and the list again goes on.Where there is wood, there will be rot. This is a certainty. Anywhere, where wood and water mix, it is only a matter of time. All you can do is slow it down, if at all.Rot, is the scourge  of boatbuilding and it cannot be prevented unless the wood is encapsulated.Now.  I know what you good ol’ boys are thinking…I hear it all the time…that if you use standard wood treatments, that it will slow or stop it. Once again, I say, how many times have you seen  new bridges built in wood?  Or a car made of wood? There is good reason for this.
Wood rots. period!
The  only one way, I know of  that can stop it(and even that is debatable)  is some type of encapsulation system.I have found that the life span of small to  medium sized untreated or semi-treated wooden boats life span is likely less than 15 years and usually more in the area of about 8 years, unless the thing is built in solid mahogany. Again a kings ransom!
But ultimately, good wood or bad, the vessel dies a rotten death.Case in point.Remember that hydro I told you about above? That boat was untreated. It lasted about that long- 8 years. It was unusable after about 6.
At the time, there was no such thing as epoxy encapsulation (in my area), and once the boat was stored on land, it just rotted away….fast!
 As a kid it really hit home for me just how bad wood was as a building material. Sure, the mahogany frames lasted many more years…but the ply, and the other woods, decayed, leaving only  the bones of my  boat.
It used to be very sad seeing it. My childhood freedom, rotting away, black and green. If there had been an epoxy system back then, I could have saved her. Alas, she has turned to dust back to the earth from whence it came.That experience changed my perception of materials for use in a boat.
As I have mentioned, I’m not a big fan of conventional wood framed hulls, especially in a barge format. Sorry folks.
I get that the old school guys love it. But lets be practical. Good wood is hard to find these days and when you find it…it is crazy expensive.
Of course I am talking about traditional carvel methods, or other older types, such as most plank on frames methods.
With so many good boats built out of wood and epoxy, why bother with an outdated systems?
Well, I have noticed  there are two types of boat guys(and women). I wonder…which one are you?
The psychological  types of boat builders.
Category 1. The Builders first sailors second.
Category 2. The Sailors first, builders second.
Let me explain.
First the builders.
These are the doing types.
The builders are a unique breed. They are highly talented hands on people. Usually masterful in anything they build, in any medium. They are creative,  direct and highly conventional preferring to stay with  the tried and true. These types usually have higher integrity and work standards than most of us.
They are the worker bees and no job is too difficult for them. They  are the types who will find solutions to any problem and in doing so they will make something beautiful or more unique in the process.  These types, love the toolsheds, the sound of a hammer on the chisel, the smell of the wood shavings, and usually, the love affair ends with the finished product, which stands as a testament to something they have created with their own hands.
 These are the people who build a boat for the  shear joy of making something. I really admire these folks.
They are the craftsmen who turn out works of art. I wish I had the skills of these masters. It is beautiful to look at a boat built by one of these true craftsmen. They carry on the legacy of what is possible. Preserving for our young, the old ways of doing it right.
 These folks tend to spend years honing their skills, and they get great satisfaction when they turn out one of these beauties.
The other side of the coin, what  I have seen with most of these guys is, that once done with the present project(and they are finishers!), they pine for another project, many times in fact half way through, they will be thinking of the next boat.
Their home is in the work shed, on the plans table and the draft room. You see, these folks must keep creating.
Thankfully we have these masters, and they will likely never fade away. They are the ones keeping alive the skills of yore for generations to come.
Then we have the Sailors first types.
These  are the experiencing types.
These types  love building a boat. But only because it is a means to an end. These are  the ones who are the adventurers. The boat for them is just a way to get to where they  truly belong. On water.
These types  are the ones who’s joy it is to watch the sunrise, see the ducks come walking into our home on water, to experience  the thunderstorms, to watch each moment on water as it goes through its seasons. These types  are the ones who cannot wait until they can be back onto the water again.
It is the moments of bliss in watching the sunsets, the wildlife, the sound of the water on the hull at night and the utter freedom of being on the water away from crowds, noise and other irritants, that truly motivates them and makes them happiest in life. Its what makes them come back to the water. They also tend to be great swimmers too!
The thing is for these types, they  just don’t have that wherewithal to turn out a masterpiece, AND spend all that time on the water.
 Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that some of these types cannot put out a masterpiece, but, once its done, it tends to get used a lot more, and that’s the end of the project. As they would likely say; “The real journey is about to begin”.  These types do it for pure joy of the journey at the end. They like to build because they can be unique in what we get and more fittingly, to not have other “cloned vessels”.
 Both types need to express human  individuality.
Ok enough pseudo psychology for now.
1. proven and most prolific method.
2. still the most common way to build a barge or pontoon shanty, mainly because there are so many plans out there.
3. wood is beautiful
4. strong.
5. most tools are already in the shed.
6. most people know how to work in wood.
7. sound of wood on water is captivating.
8. insulating properties.
9. easy to finish
10. readily available fasteners and glues.
11. easy to solve blunders and issues.
12. old school classic designs
13. many people still love classic craft.
14. many method of this type of construction can be formed to compound curves.
15. many different methods/options for  boatbuilding in conventional plank on frame.
16. good vibration dampening properties
1. potentially the weakest method of building in any  material.
2. rot.
3. time consuming
4. must  be highly skilled to turn out a good boat.
5. not fire resistant.
6. good wood less available now and expensive.
7. usually requires labour intensive maintenance.
8. maintenance is expensive.
9. cannot be left in year round.
10. heavy, especially if waterlogged.
11. prone to leaks.
12. susceptible to borers.(salt water)
13. easily holed unless heavily built.
14. wood flexes more in a seaway, than other “stiffer” materials, causing fasteners to loosen, and/or caulking to come separated.
15. wood framing takes up more interior space.
16. repairs are expensive and require skilled labour.
17. methods now obsolete.
 In the end, choosing a material is not easy. There are so many variables. In most cases, I find that the builder types stay with the same M.O. throughout their life, whereas, the Sailors tend to sample many.  There are no hard and fast rules for everyone though and there truly is not one material, better than another. It all boils down to personal preference. What matters is, that you get joy and happiness from the experience.
After all this is what it is all about.
* more on this in detail in another article.
**depending on method
*** if using cement – FAL does not have this issue.
****FAL is much lighter than cement  and can tolerate more “thickness” mistakes. As well it can be plastered in many shots, easing stress levels from fear of “getting it right the first time”  anxiety.

Originally posted 2016-03-05 19:08:31.