Aluminum VS Fiberglass Boats: Which one to choose?

Having a boat is fun and all, but getting the best one is a whole new story. You need to pick a suitable material so that nothing goes out of hand. 

Aluminum and fiberglass both are damage resistant, cheap to manufacture, and are highly durable. So, who will win between aluminum vs. fiberglass boats? 

In terms of price and maintenance, fiberglass boats fall behind aluminum ones. However, for deep sea usage, fiberglass is the best option.

Turns out, aluminum offers more durability and isn’t as prone to cracking from impact. However, aluminum has its downsides as well. If a sharp object hits with enough force, punctures may show up, causing the boat to degrade faster. 

Here we have discussed the head-to-head differences between fiberglass and aluminum boats and their advantages. Let’s begin, and we have a lot of stuff to cover. 

What lasts longer, fiberglass or aluminum?

Depending on the usage, both fiberglass and aluminum will see their days. For regular use, aluminum will last longer than fiberglass. However, this is only half the story. If you happen to make a material with aluminum where sharp objects hit regularly, punctures will appear in mere days. 

Fiberglass doesn’t have this flaw but is more susceptible to cracking from impact. Between fiberglass and aluminum, the usage will determine which one lasts the most. In some cases, fiberglass will surpass aluminum, and in others, aluminum will rule indefinitely. 

Aluminum Vs. Fiberglass Boats: Comparison Chart

In a hurry? Check out the comparison chart to find a solution fast and easy:

Features  Fiberglass  Aluminum
Cost $0.88 to $1.64 per square foot Less than $0.5 when compared to fiberglass thickness
Shear strength  Less More
Hardness More  Less
Prone to cracking Cracks faster Doesn’t crack as fast due to the overall strength
Puncture resist Highly resistant Object hitting with enough speed may cause punctures
Heat resistivity  More Less 
Electrical conductivity Zero Highly conductive
Heat conductive Less More (Due to the metallic property)

Aluminum Boats: Everything you need to know

Aluminum boats are lightweight, easy to control, and are highly durable. You can easily launch and load the boat without too much effort.

Aluminum Boats
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These boats require less maintenance, unlike other boats with different materials. Here are some of the features of aluminum boats that will come in handy: 

Easy to maintain

When it comes to maintenance, aluminum boats take less effort to clean or keep fresh. You don’t have to coat the darn boat with wax gel every once in a while. This also reduces the maintenance cost, which is a driving factor for many. 

Cheap to manufacture

This shouldn’t come as a surprise that aluminum is cheap to manufacture. You don’t need to have a bank full of money to own an aluminum boat. It is widely available everywhere, so you don’t have to worry about finding repair parts as well. The best part is aluminum fishing boats cost ⅓ less than the price of wood, steel, and other material boats. 

Highly durable

As aluminum is a metal, it has a high flex ratio, which adds up to durability. You can use an aluminum boat for years without needing to replace the gunnel, hull, or any other part. Just keep a thick enough layer, and you will be just fine.

High UTS

The UTS or Ultimate Tensile Strength of aluminum is its maximum property to resist failure. Due to this, aluminum boats have a high yield strength fracture resistance and will resist years of usability. 

Pros 

  • Highly durable and long-lasting
  • Cheap and affordable 
  • It doesn’t require huge maintenance
  • Replacement is widely available
  • Regular wax gel coat not needed

Cons

  • Objects hitting at high speed may cause damage

When Should You Choose an Aluminum Boat?

Aluminum boats are affordable, cheap to maintain, and are highly durable. If you just want a regular boat that can help you fish, travel, and simply have fun, this boating material is what you need. The best part is, you will get a heck of a lot of variations for your dream boat. It is also possible to fiberglass over aluminum boats.

Fiberglass Boats: Everything you need to know

Fiberglass boats are hitting the market hard with their low-weight design, cheap maintenance cost, and high stability. Generally speaking, these types of boats offer a lot more versatility, seakeeping ability and are more stable of the tides.

Fiberglass Boats
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It is also a little heavy, which makes the boat more rigid against gusts of wind. Let’s see some features of fiberglass boats:

More stable on strong winds

These boats are a little heavy, so strong winds can’t make them unstable. Fiberglass boats will stay rigid, which makes them an excellent option for seakeeping. You can expect zero buffeting by the wind even when wind speeds over 20 knots (23 mph). 

Drifts slower and is more predictable 

During fast tires, fiberglass boats offer more stability and move slower in the water. This makes your ride much more predictable and worries less about the boat suddenly spinning out of control.

Highly durable 

Fiberglass has a high fracture strength point. So, boats of fiberglass can resist quite some hits from the tires and objects coming at high speed. You can expect the boat to last for at least five years before any hardcore repairs. 

Less affected with salt water

The seas are filled with NaCl. Metals can easily corrode in seawater, whereas fiberglass stays non-reactive. There will hardly be any discoloration or material degradation, even after years of usage. 

Pros 

  • Highly stable and predictable 
  • Easy to control
  • Minimal boat spinning out of control 
  • Durable and long lasting
  • No discoloration or corrosion 

Cons

  • Doesn’t come cheap

When Should You Choose a Fiberglass Boat?

Fiberglass boats are durable, user-friendly, and offer maximum control over high waves. It has a slow drifting speed, which makes it more predictable in varying sea conditions. You don’t have to worry about the boat spinning uncontrollably or situations getting out of hand. Additionally, wind speeds of up to 20 knots won’t cause fiberglass boats to be buffeted. 

Aluminum Vs. Fiberglass Boats: Head to Head

Both aluminum and fiberglass boats are good. However, who will win depends on where you use it. For starters, aluminum is cheap and requires less maintenance. You can expect to get an aluminum boat for around $17000-$24000. 

Aluminum VS Fiberglass Boats
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On the other hand, fiberglass boats take some effort to maintain. Plus, you will need to add wax gel coating to keep a regular looking shine. These boats typically start from $20000. So, they ain’t cheap. 

For life expectancy, fiberglass is clearly the winner. Though aluminum boats have a higher yield and ultimate tensile strength, it gets easily damaged when objects moving at high speed hits. 

Fiberglass is also more corrosion resistive and is a great option for seakeeping. At the same time, aluminum needs to have a thick coating to get the same amount of corrosion resistivity. 

Aluminum boats have more thermal and heat conductivity, which increases the overall temperature of the boat inside. Luckily, fiberglass boats don’t have these problems. 

FAQs 

Can aluminum boats sink?

Aluminum boats are hard to sink, but still possible. Practically, all boats can sink if they don’t have enough buoyancy. A simple leak will allow water to rush into the boat and take it down into Davy Jones’s locker. However, this is not the titanic we are looking at. Modern aluminum boats can resist bullets, let alone sharp objects floating around. If the boat isn’t too old like Lone Star aluminum boat, it won’t sink that easily.

Are aluminum boats safe?

Aluminum boats are pretty darn safe. You can use these boats for seakeeping on high tides, waves, and so on. These boats are highly damage resistant, and structural fatigue is hardly an issue. If you want a cheap and reliable option, an aluminum boat is a way to go. They are less expensive than wood, fiberglass, and steel but almost as strong. Nowadays, unsinkable aluminum boats are available that are safer than ever before. 

Are fiberglass boats faster than aluminum?

Nope. Fiberglass is much slower than aluminum boats. However, this low speed makes fiberglass boats more rigid against high winds, tides, and so on. You can control fiberglass boats better while seakeeping and spinning problems won’t show up. On the other hand, aluminum boats are fast but can sometimes go out of hand. It is better if aluminum boat captains keep a low speed profile during huge gusts of wind. 

What is the life expectancy of a fiberglass boat?

You can expect fiberglass boats to last more than 25 years at the bare minimum. Fiberglass doesn’t corrode in water, keeps its regular shine, and is highly damage-resistant. 

Some fiberglass boats can last for more than 30 years without any significant damage. However, where you use the boat matters the most. If the user subjects the boat to regular deep-sea fishing, it will have maximum longevity of 20 years. 

Endnote

For us, fiberglass may be more expensive, but it is a better option for most water lovers. It offers better control stability and is more predictable than aluminum. 

Aluminum boats may start spinning uncontrollably when the tides are too fast. Wind speeds of more than 20 knots can also be a problem as well. However, fiberglass boats are rigid enough for all sorts of seakeeping projects. 

But hey, if you want a cheap and affordable boat for recreational purposes, aluminum boats are hard to match. You can take your kids fishing on your boat every week and spend some quality time. 

For professionals, fiberglass boats are the way to go. 

This is all for today. Let’s hit the sack. Have a good day. 

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