Aluminum vs. Fiberglass Boats

Modern boats are most often constructed of fiberglass, but aluminum is the best material to choose for a workboat.  Aluminum is more durable than fiberglass, which is prone to breaking or cracking from impact.  Aluminum is more resistant to punctures also.  Though sharp objects hit with enough force can puncture an aluminum hull, it is less likely to cause major damage.  Plus, aluminum boats do not deteriorate and weaken from sun exposure like fiberglass boats, which can help extend the operational life of the boat. Aluminum boats offers all these advantages while still maintaining a comparable weight to fiberglass boats and therefore provide similar speed, fuel burn and seakeeping.

Aluminum Boats: Debunking the Myths

Myth: An aluminum boat will corrode from electrolysis overtime.  

Fact: A certain amount of galvanic corrosion is unavoidable, but a properly galvanically protected aluminum boat will not suffer more than surface corrosion during its lifetime. Silver Ships conducts galvanic testing during all builder’s sea-trials. We only deliver a boat once it has been determined to be in the galvanic protected range. 

Additionally, marine grade aluminum is more resistant to galvanic corrosion than other aluminum alloys. Silver Ships uses only 5086 alloy Marine Grade Aluminum plate for our vessels, as it is the highest quality marine grade alloy. For further protection, we often include galvanic monitors that continually check if a boat is still in the protected range once in operation. Silver Ships has installed several of these for past customers.

Myth: Aluminum boats are loud.  

Fact: A properly built aluminum hull with a true keel and welded frames is no louder than a fiberglass boat. This common misconception comes from low-end aluminum skiffs built from thin aluminum sheets that are riveted together, or a welded aluminum boat lacking enough welding to secure the hull and side shell to the hull structure.

Myth: Aluminum has a higher carbon footprint than fiberglass.  

Fact: A well-built aluminum boat will last a lifetime if properly maintained. Aluminum boats require less overall maintenance than their fiberglass (or wood) counterparts. This makes aluminum more sustainable than fiberglass over the lifetime of the vessel. Plus, aluminum boats can be easily and cost effectively recycled at the end of their useful life to become other aluminum products.

Myth: Fiberglass boats look better and have a unique hull shape that benefits the ride.  

Fact: Fiberglass boats can be molded into any shape. However, using modern 3D CAD software and robotic routers, modern aluminum boats can be built into more unique hull shapes than in the past. Additionally, aluminum boats can be designed and affordably built as a custom “one off” vessel unique to the customer’s needs. Every fiberglass boat requires an expensive mold that makes it unaffordable to build just one boat.

To learn more about what makes Silver Ships aluminum workboats the highest quality and durable vessels on the market, contact our team.