BoatingService Repair

Foam or Fiberglass? A Look at Synthetic Decking

Among the many recent trends that have become mainstays in the world of boating, synthetic decking is certainly one of the most popular. With a variety of manufacturers and installers available to transform the decks of their vessels, many boat owners are turning to foam padding to enhance their experiences on the water. But what exactly are the benefits of synthetic decking, and are there any downsides?

While hardcore anglers readily choose fishability over comfort, the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Certainly, tournament anglers will forego extra seating or luxurious appointments aboard their vessels that could get in the way of fishability, but synthetic decking is a comfort feature that, is for all intents and purposes, a “win-win” scenario.

Regardless of deck material or texture, safety is the primary goal. Slipping and falling is something that should be avoided at all costs; and while many boat manufacturers use effective non-skid material on their decks to ensure stable footing, additional steps can be taken. Adding synthetic decking to a vessel is no minor commitment – with significant cost involved, the foam padding totally transforms the look and feel of a vessel. However, with several top-tier manufacturers within the industry offering multiple color patterns and materials, not to mention precise installation, it’s a worthy investment for many boaters.

Synthetic boat decking benefits

There are multiple advantages to be gained by adding synthetic decking, with comfort being perhaps the most overlooked and underrated. Many anglers use deck boots to protect their feet and keep them dry, but the added padding of synthetic decking makes standing for hours on end much more bearable. Additionally, kneeling and sitting on the foam pads is far more comfortable than doing so on traditional diamond-shaped non-skid. Helm pads made of the same material are crucial in protecting captains cruising in rough seas from back and knee pain usually resulting from too much time pounding on the water

Another factor many boaters fail to take into account when considering synthetic decking is deck protection. Scuffs, scratches and cracks in fiberglass decks can be difficult and expensive to repair, but a layer of foam decking can protect the fiberglass beneath it from damage. With heavy vertical jigs, deep drop leads and more all capable of causing serious damage if dropped directly on the deck of a vessel, synthetic decking is a no-brainer in protecting your investment.

Clean-up is also a crucial consideration, and many boaters fear that installing synthetic decking on their vessels will lead to stains that cannot be removed. However, today’s top manufacturers used closed-cell foam that doesn’t absorb fish blood and other staining substances, allowing boaters to simply rinse and scrub away messes as they would on a traditional deck.

Synthetic boat decking

On our flagship SeaVee 390Z, we trust AquaTraction Advanced Marine Flooring ( for our synthetic decking needs. Installed by All Water Customs (, a full-service AquaTracti on dealer, our marine flooring has been an incredible addition to our vessel. All Water Customs works directly with boat owners to measure, customize the material and install the product with impressive precision. In addition to aftermarket installations, All Water Customs works with boat manufacturers to install flooring during the build process, ensuring that the decking is complete upon delivery. The 100% closed cell foam is completely stain-resistant and will not shrink in high heat. Furthermore, the foam is attached to the deck with an extremely strong adhesive developed by 3M, ensuring that it will not peel over time.

Another industry leader and perhaps the most well-known manufacturer of marine flooring is SeaDek ( A proven product used by top boat builders as well as boat owners looking for reliable aftermarket installations, SeaDek has established a sterling reputation within the fishing and boating community. Additionally, SeaDek offers an incredibly diverse array of custom packages suited for not only the deck of your boat, but also items like coolers, storage hatch interiors and more.

Among the many advantages provided by SeaDek, traction is maybe the most important as even when wet, the foam provides reliable footing. The foam used also provides an ideal balance of softness and rigidity for guaranteed comfort when standing, walking or leaning on surfaces covered with SeaDek. In addition to protection against scratches, chips and dents, the material provides impressive shock absorption that decreases fatigue. Shallow water anglers stalking wary targets also appreciate SeaDek’s noise-reducti on characteristics that help them avoid spooking trophy game fish.

Though your boat manufacturer likely went through rigorous processes in ensuring that the deck of the vessel could stand up to whatever you or Mother Nature throws at it, it never hurts to add another layer of protection. In this case, top-tier marine flooring not only protects your deck, but also provides additional advantages that make for more enjoyable experiences on the water. With so many accessories out there to enhance your vessel, synthetic decking should be near the top of your list.