Building Materials for Houseboats - Composite panels, exterior walls & roof

by Joe Austin
(Mountain Home, AR)

Houseboat Building  - exterior composite panels for walls?

Houseboat Building - exterior composite panels for walls?

I'm building a houseboat, and am looking at my choices for exterior materials, like composite panels for the walls or roof?

Does anyone have any input as to where we might find information on composite walls for building a houseboat.

It does not have to be only aluminum composite, it can be any type of lightweight composite panels.

Thanks, God Bless, Joe Austin

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Reply - Answer
Well Joe, congratulations on building a houseboat. I hope that you're taking photo's and documenting as you go, since we all love to see pictures, and hear about building tips.

Tips for Building with Free Houseboat Plans

* Once you have decided to build a boat, you will be needing some building materials, marine parts, and technical building information.

Now regarding information on "exterior composite panels", unfortunately I don't have any specific technical details or specs, but I've heard that some of the houseboat manufacturers are using fiberglass, aluminum, PVDF, polyethylene, polyester, or synthetic based panels for walls and roofs.

In comparison to typical marine plywood, fiberglass, or aluminum siding exteriors, the results seems to show that composite panels are durable, lightweight, long lasting, easy to install, low maintenance, and structurally strong. I see that they make composite panels in a wide variety of shades and colors.

Price wise, it's probably more money than the typical standard exterior wall construction materials presently used, however when you factor in all the benefits and advantages, I'm sure in the long run, cost wise, just the life span of composite panels alone, will pay for themselves many times over.

I know that if we were building a houseboat, and if my wife and I had to choose, we would go for composite panels, since my wife doesn't care about all the technical details, she just wants a houseboat that looks good, and that is easy to wash and keep clean. :)

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments and information about their houseboat building, composite panel experiences.

Thanks again Joe for sharing, IAN - from

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3M reinforced polyurethane foam
by: Anonymous

I've read a little bit of buzz about using 3M reinforced polyurethane foam boards instead of plywood - apparently it is lighter, and will last longer against boating environmental conditions, but still has the structural integrity of plywood.

I'm wondering if anyone has used this and could offer some insight as to whether or not it is a worthy investment (because it is definitely more expensive).

I'm also wondering if instead of trying to track down and use composite panels, if using 3M reinforced polyurethane foam would be an easier-to-install but weight-saving option.

Thanks for any help.

Using insulated panels for roofs and walls
by: Keith

Concerning the post about where to find panels for use on constructing your houseboat. After seeing and handling these materials first hand, I would highly recommend a couple of manufactures for these. Hope this helps.

Metals USA

Composite panels for houseboats
by: Ben

We specialize in composite panels and deck tiles for marine and aerospace industries. If you have any questions, or you need a supplier of composite products. The company is SouthMain

Fiberglass houseboat building materials and insulated panels
by: riverrats52

I have been reading about fiberglass houseboat building materials, and have seen insulated tongue and groove panels with closed cell urethane foam called Durashield.

They can be used as walls or roofs or floors they are so strong. I have found a site that sells it in Louisville, KY

I have been wanting to build my own houseboat too, and am researching everything I can to learn about all systems. I like the ideal of Wilson plastic foam filled pontoons too, but I wonder how strong they would be for pulling up on beach. Good luck, I hope to build or buy in 2 more years.

An inexpensive option for holding tanks
by: Anonymous

If you're looking for tanks to use under the floor of your boat, try the car wreckers since the fuel tanks (here in Australia) are often plastic and hold 60 to 75 liters come with a large filling neck, various outlets and all ready have the sender units for a gauge, to let you know how full or empty it is.

There are not suitable for drinking water but ideal for black or grey water, best of all you can pick them up for very little.

Holding tanks
by: Joe & Betty Austin

As we have said before, we are trying the build a houseboat on a 12' X 32' pontoon deck. Does anyone know or have any suggestions for placement of the holding tanks (fresh, gray and black water).
The pontoon deck has 5.5" steel ribs running from pontoon to pontoon, and have considered hanging them under the deck between these. If any one has any other info or suggestions including websites, etc. please let us know.
Thank You, God Bless, Joe & Betty Austin

Reply - Answer
Well Joe & Betty, by putting the holding tanks underneath the floor between the pontoons would be very good idea since they would be nice and low, which would be really beneficial for "center of gravity". You would simply have to find tanks that are not very high. Have a look at this page on grey, water, and holding tanks.

IAN from

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The information/articles on this website are for educational purpose only. It is not intended to replace the advice of a professional. This site does not take responsibility for the accuracy of comments, opinions, suggestions and any other messages posted by visitors.
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