waterproof wooden boat

How to Waterproof Wood for A Boat

Owing a boat can be a truly rewarding experience.

There is nothing greater than being out on the open water during those hot summer months with friends and family.

Maybe you want to do a little fishing. Maybe you just want to get out on the water and away from civilization for the weekend.

Whatever the situation is, this is where a boat can come in handy. However, do not let owning a boat fool you because it will come along with a lot of responsibility.

If you want that boat to look its best and last as long as possible, you are going to need to maintain it. Such maintenance tasks will require waterproofing and sealing your boat. If you have ever wondered how to waterproof wood for a boat, you are about to learn.

Why You Should Seal Your Boat’s Wood

If you look up any information about sealing your boat, you are going to find that there is a plethora of information out there. So, why is it so important to seal your boat’s wood?

To start off, any experienced boater will know that the marine environment is a different one right away. Sure, when your boat is marooned at the dock it is sitting in water but being out on the open water is a whole different animal altogether.

When you are out of the water both you and your boat are going to be exposed to a variety of harsh environmental conditions and therefore sealing your boat’s wood is important.

  • Protecting Against UV Rays – Most of the time when you are out on the water you are going to be completely at the sun’s mercy. During those hot summer months, the UV rays from the sun are going to be beating down on you and your boat. UV rays do not just damage the skin. They can do long-term damage to leather, wood, vinyl, and other materials when exposed for prolonged times. If the wood is exposed to the sun’s harsh rays for a prolonged period it might lead to rot or warping. The sealer will help protect your boat’s wood against these rays.

  • Protection Against Water – It is probably obvious that water and wood don’t mix. However, there are still several boat owners that don’t fully understand how harsh the water can be on your boat’s wood. Lake water, rainwater, and even ocean water is unlike water you drink. These types of water can sometimes contain salt and other elements that are extremely harsh to wood. Without proper protection, prolonged exposure to water could lead to wood rot

  • Fighting Against Humidity – It is not just the water in the lake, sea, or ocean that you need to worry about. Water in the air can and will affect your boat’s wood as well. This is especially true if your boat is being lifted in and out of the water during every use. Humidity can cause wood to warp and bow, but proper sealing can help protect against this.

If your boat has wooden flooring that’s already showing signs of rot, I’ve recently created a guide on how to fix rotted boat flooring. You can view this guide by clicking here.

How to Waterproof Wood for A Boat

Luckily, waterproofing a boat isn’t too terribly hard if you have the right information and know how.

You will want to begin by preparing the boat’s wood for the sealer. You can simply do this by rubbing off any previous sealer with sandpaper. Typically, there are two types of sandpaper available for the job. This would be the rough and fine sandpaper. You will need to utilize both as the rough paper works well for reaching into the crevices of the wood and the fine paper makes for a nice uniform finish.

Once the wood is prepped and ready to go, you will simply want to apply your sealer according to the instruction on the can.

Just keep in mind that there are a number of sealers available for your choosing and choosing one might come down to several underlying factors like the type of wood and your budget.

Most of the time, you will simply just use a paintbrush to apply the sealer. While doing so, you will want to make sure that you are doing it in a uniform manner.

Once the paint is amply applied in a uniform manner, you will want to give it plenty of time to dry before exposing the boat to the water. However, you will not be able to protect the boat from humidity and this is where quick cure sealers come in handy.

How to Waterproof Plywood

Plywood is a wood that is oftentimes used on docks and boats.

Unfortunately, plywood is made by gluing layers of wood together where it is later finished with a veneer. When plywood is exposed to water or extreme humidity conditions it can cause the glue to come undone, weakening the entire integrity and foundation of the wood.

Therefore, it is imperative to use the best paint for wood dock when sealing plywood.

Waterproof paint and sealer can be applied in almost the same manner as described above. However, once the sealer is applied to the plywood and dried, you will want to wipe the wood down with a damp cloth and sand it lightly with a 100 to 200 grit sandpaper.

Best Marine Grade Wood Sealers

SEAL-ONCE Wood Sealer

Those looking for a good bargain will want to check out SEAL-ONCE. This wood sealer is very effective, and it can be used for many different types of wood.

It is great at protecting against water, decay, and even mold. It will work wonders for your boat. Plus, it has an ultra-low VOC content, and this ensures that it is not going to choke you to death.

If you want to protect your boat and yourself, you should consider buying this wood sealer. It works exceptionally well, and it is not going to break the bank.

Click Here to view the product on Amazon.

DeckWise WiseCoat Hardwood Deck Sealer

The DeckWise Waterproofing Sealer is slightly expensive. In fact, it is one of the most expensive sealers out there. Still, it is true that you’re going to get your money’s worth.

This sealer is very versatile. It is going to protect your boat in a handful of ways. For starters, it will waterproof the boat to prevent rot. At the same time, it can protect against the UV rays of the sun. This means that it is going to prevent the sun from causing the paint to become dull. This will keep your boat looking spectacular for many years to come.

When using on a horizontal surface, the DeckWise Sealer will prevent excessive water buildup below the wood surface for a period of up to 6 years.

Another great thing about this sealer is the low VOC content. This ensures that you’re going to be protected. You’ll be able to apply the sealer without worrying about those harmful odors. Still, it would be wise to wear a mask.

Click Here to view the product on Amazon.

DeckWise WiseCoat Hardwood Deck, Siding & Fence Semi-Transparent Waterproofing...
  • The low g/l VOC formula of WiseCoat minimizes bothersome and harmful...
  • VOC emissions compliant in all Contiguous US states including the...
  • Protects, preserves and enhances all types South American exotic...
  • Proven to prevent excessive water accumulation below the wood surface...

TotalBoat Danish teak Wood Sealer

If you’re looking for a wood sealer that will last a lifetime, you should check out TotalBoat’s Danish Teak Wood Sealer.

This sealer is somewhat expensive, but it’ll be well worth it. After all, this sealer is going to penetrate the wood’s cracks and crevices. This ensures that everything is going to be preserved to the fullest.

It works exceptionally well for hard and soft woods. This makes it one of the most versatile wood sealers on the planet. The only potential problem is that you’ll need to use two coats. Still, it’ll be worth it.

After all, this will ensure that it is able to repel the water. Even better is the fact that the Danish Teak Wood Sealer will not cause the floor’s surface to become slippery and dangerous. That is something you cannot tolerate on a boat and it is why you should go with TotalBoat!

Click Here to view the product on Amazon.

TotalBoat Danish Teak Sealer - Marine Grade Wood Sealer Oil for Boat Decks, Trim...
  • MARINE-GRADE TEAK SEALER beautifies wood & repels water without making...
  • EASY TO APPLY WITH A FOAM BRUSH OR A CLEAN RAG. Allow 20-30 minutes to...


I hope this guide was useful and taught you how to waterproof wood for a boat.

If you do not take steps to protect your boat’s wood, there is a good chance that you’re going to experience huge problems in the near future. You do not want the wood to rot.

Therefore, you will need to protect it using the right paint or sealant. By referring to the guide above, you’ll have a good idea of what is going to work and what won’t cut it. It is recommended that you refer to this information when attempting to purchase the best paint for a wood dock.

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