Throughout the centuries, people have been using all kinds of materials to build boats and ships of various sizes in order to cross the oceans or for hunting purposes. Thanks to them, we now possess the knowledge of many shipbuilding techniques and what materials should be used for each. Whether you are looking into buying a boat or are perhaps considering building one yourself, one of the key things to consider is the material. After all, it is the only thing that stands between you and the water.
Wood is the first thing that comes to mind when picturing a ship or boat. It is easily obtained and a relatively easy material to use when building a boat. However, you must keep in mind what kind of boat you are planning to build when selecting the wood, as its performance will most likely vary depending on the environment and the task. Also, research the wood’s density and hardness, as these affect how easily the water can enter its structure. There are many wood density charts available online, so research shouldn’t be a problem. Remember that it requires a lot of maintenance in order to keep it from rotting and deteriorating.
Steel is one of the heavier materials to be used, and is more suitable for yachts. It is very tough and can take a rough journey, but is a lot more susceptible to rust and needs to be treated very frequently with paint in order to keep the water from entering.
Aluminium, on the other hand, is very light and can still take on just as much as steel. The downside is that it is very expensive, therefore not suitable for amateur builders. If you consider using aluminium, make sure you understand the process, as you will require special tools to weld.
Fiberglass is the most common material used, and suits various types of boats. It’s weight depends on how many layers are put, giving you flexibility when it comes to how you want your boat to feel. Even though the structures itself is quite robust, it will likely need to be reinforced with other materials such as wood or foam in order to give your boat more stability on the water.
Ferrocement is a very strong material, at the price of being the heaviest. It can last you a very long time, and considering the cheap manufacturing cost, should be considered when building a boat. If you are planning to buy one, make sure you check in with a ferrocement expert or a shipwright to check the construction for minor flaws which may lead to real issues in the future.
Hopefully this short introduction to shipbuilding materials was useful to enthusiasts willing looking into building their own boat. As you can see, each material has its own purpose, along with certain flaws, and it is up to you to determine which will suit your best in your building.