Construction materials


Considerations regarding building materials

  steel aluminium   aluminium/
 epoxy composite polyester plywood comments


regular little little little regular  
impact strength very strong very strong very strong reasonably strong strong moderately strong
9 7 7 6 7 5

the higher the number, the
more weight.

cost 6 8 6 5 4 4 the higher the number,
the greater the expense.
loss of space 7 8 8 5 4 4 the higher the number,
the greater the loss of space.



Maintenance can be subdivided into two categories: the structural condition of the boat and the cosmetic condition. For example: when the boat is made of steel or plywood, damage to the paint system must be repaired immediatelly. For other materials it is not urgent.


Impact strength

This refers to the strength of the material and the amount of stretch until it breaks. The advantage of metal is, that it has a lot of stretch (up to 20%) which also works as a 'crumple zone'.

Good composites are up to 4 times stronger than standard aluminium, but have less stretch to breaking point (approximately 1.5%). But because of the lighter construction a collision will be less severe.

Lighter ships with small loads are probably strongest in composite; boats with heavy loads will be stronger in metal.



For a planing hull, additional weight will will give too much resistance. For the long-distance sailor who will take a lot of weight this is an issue of less importance. However, the weight needs to be positioned in the right place, low and in the middle of the ship.

Our centreboarders need a lot of ballast for a safe angle of vanishing stability and would be too heavy and wet (sea spray etc.) if constructed in steel. For these ships aluminium and epoxy composite are more suitable construction materials.



The costs of the hull and deck are only part of the total costs (see cost indication). For the amateur-builder this can be a decisive factor, as they may not have the expertise to use certain materials. For yachts built at a yard the differences will be small. The advantages of woodcore and plywood are that  these materials don't need to be finished at some places on the inside.


Loss of space

Due to some construction techniques using frames and stringers for example, there will be loss of space. With the use of woodcore, polyester and plywood there will be more space on the inside of a ship. This especially applies to ships of a total length up to approx 12 meters.