Marine grade carpeting is a top pick for boat flooring due to its luxurious look, making any boat look like a high end model. A question that often comes up when it is time to replace the existing boat flooring with a new carpet is whether regular outdoor carpeting found in ordinary hardware stores would work as a replacement. This is a valid question as this type of carpet is much cheaper and mode widely available.
Before addressing the question, it helps to point out a few key differences. Marine grade carpeting is earns its name and grade for good reason with the number of quality and manufacturing standards that is must meet. Traditionally, boat carpets have a number of extra improvements added to it so it can withstand life in the water, exposed to the sun. Marine grade boat carpeting is rubber backed, resistant to UV and fading, resistant to unraveling, resistant to stains, resistant to mold and rot, weather proof, non-flammable, porous for quick drying, and made from special polypropylene yarn. While outdoor carpeting shares a number of these same features, the biggest difference lies in the rubber backing. Carpet made for boat floors are backed with a rubber that the polypropylene yarn is woven directly into. This allows boat carpeting to gain its many benefits and various resistances to mold, mildew, rot, and UV rays.
Your boat will go through much harsher environments than a stationary outdoor carpet is normally subjected to. The marine environment is quite harsh due to repeated wetting, drying, and exposure to natural elements. While many outdoor carpeting makers will tell you that their carpeting is acceptable for boat use, remember that any boat sold with carpet flooring uses marine grade carpeting.
Standard outdoor carpeting from the hardware store uses a carpet backing for indoor use with a rubber layer applied to it. The main backing layer is actually just a fabric, either woven or unwoven, that the carpet yarn is tufted into by needles. Then a second layer of fabric gets laminated under that to reinforce the main layer. This construction, while much stronger than indoor carpet, means that the fibrous two layer backings are susceptible to wear and tear which can occur quickly after just a few outings out into the water. You will find that the yarn threads will actually start to deteriorate and start coming off the backing. The two layer backing also traps moisture, meaning that water is not as quick to dry, thus leading to rot, mold, and further deterioration. You could have an even bigger problem on your hands if this goes unnoticed as it can spread to your decking underneath. If it’s made of wood, the water moisture may also weaken or damage it.
Compared to outdoor carpeting, marine carpet floors are built specifically for marine use and do not have the same issues due to its construction process. While outdoor carpeting from your hardware store is cheaper and looks enticing, it’s known to cause problems in the long run and may end up turning into an expensive boat repair if you’re not careful.
If you are replacing your boat carpet, then make sure to get the right type of boat flooring that is suited for aquatic conditions. Marine grade means it is manufactured to withstand the harshness of a marine environment. Protect your boat with the right carpet floor and look past the cheaper outdoor carpet as it may do more harm than good. The best investment for your boat floor is to buy what your boat came with when you bought it–trustworthy marine grade boat carpeting.
Last Revision: Apr 15, 2013