Rub rail is the term commonly used for solid type rail guards, which serve a dual function on any boat. Primarily, the rub rail offers a fendering surface on the outermost edge of the gunwale, saving structural surfaces and finishes from impact damage. Secondly, rub rails provide aesthetic accent to contour lines on the boat. Most rub rails are positioned along the deck to hull joint of the boat, because this is a crucial seam on the vessel and a point of vulnerability. Since a gunwale guard experiences high wear, it's occasionally replaced, as needed, or during refinishing projects. Many manufacturers like Taco offer direct OEM replacements for popular boat models. Replacement is a two-person procedure, and can be accomplished easily with a little guidance.
Several types of rub rails are available prefabricated, such as: rigid vinyl, semi-rigid vinyl, flexible vinyl, aluminum, and stainless steel. Most rails have final finish pieces like inserts, overlays, and end caps. Or you can design your own attractive custom rail with half round and flat stock capped onto wood molding. Quality rub rails will incorporate key features. Attributes such as high-grade vinyl, UV inhibitors, plasticizers, fungicides, impact modifiers, and additives increase weather resistance.
Fabric Gunwale Guards
Most folks refer to the softer cushioning type of edging as gunwale guards. Canvas-type gunwale guards are a great finish for traditional boats and dinghies. In appearance it resembles fire hose, but has a foam backing that adds excellent cushion. Gunwale guards also make excellent protection for dock edges, platforms, pilings, or anywhere cushioning is needed. Modern fabric gunwale guards are backed by a spongy rubber foam that doesn't hold water and stands up to the marine environment. Fabric is tenaciously bonded to the foam backing cushion, typically a polyester fabric resistant to chemicals and staining that also cleans easily. The guard is either half round for flat surfaces or 3/4 round for laying over rails and thinner gunwale edges. Expected lifespan for quality gunwale guards is eight seasons or better, under average usage.
Flex Trim and Vinyl Trim
Flexible vinyl or plastic trimming is a simple trim solution for hard edges. It neatly caps over edges on Plexiglas®, fiberglass, metal, or glass. This is a commonly used edging around access hatches, anchor lockers, and such. It offers the benefits of quick installation and easy finish.
Keelguard is a sacrificial strip adhered to the keel line of boats. It protects the keel of beached boats from sand and stone abrasion, the type of minor damage which will compromise gelcoat and lead to more complicated damage. The concept is similar to sacrificial strips used on dinghies and rowboats which are dragged up a beach or dock. Many boaters adhere or fasten thin strips of wood or starboard for the boat to ride up on while dragging over ground.
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