The most obvious differences between flooring in inflatable boats are the materials used in their manufacture. Aluminum and wooden floors are available on the market, as well as inflatable floors. Wooden floors are typically made of plywood due to its low cost and high strength. Inflatable air floors consist of two layers of synthetic fabric held together by thousands of small stitches. When you inflate these floors, air fills the space between the fabric layers.
When you purchase a plywood or aluminum floor for an inflatable boat, you must assemble it. Plywood floors usually come in boards that fit into a pair of parallel slats to form a single surface. Aluminum floors come as individual sheets that link together and fit into slats that form the perimeter of the floor. Once assembled, you place the floor into your inflated boat. Inflatable floors require no assembly -- you hook them up to an air pump and inflate. However, though inflatable floors require no assembly, it still takes time to inflate them. The amount of time depends upon the size of the floor and the air pump's capacity.
Inflatable boat manufacturers and vendors recommend different floor types for optimum convenience based upon your needs. For instance, if you regularly inflate and deflate your boat throughout the course of the year, an inflatable floor will meet your needs best. However, if you only inflate and deflate your boat a few times a year, an aluminum or wooden floor will work best for your purposes. Inflatable floors naturally lose air over time when left inflated over long periods while aluminum and plywood floors retain their rigidity indefinitely. If you travel with your boat, an inflatable floor deflates to a small, lightweight size for convenience.
Inflatable Floor Benefits
According to inflatable boat flooring manufacturers, these surfaces become as hard as solid wood floors when completely inflated. However, the flexible fabric used in these floors can absorb impact damage by stretching or compressing to accommodate pressure. Therefore, inflatable floors purportedly resist impact damage better than wood or aluminum floors. The manufacturers also claim that inflatable floors absorb vibrations better than solid flooring types and offer greater cushioning for occupants.
Plywood and Aluminum Benefits
Plywood and aluminum offer various benefits other than rigidity. For instance, if you somehow puncture an inflatable boat floor, it deflates due to air loss. Plywood and aluminum floors, on the other hand, can withstand a number of small punctures before the damage threatens the structural integrity of your boat’s floor. According to Grand Boats, an inflatable boat manufacturer, inflatable floors don’t provide quite the same level of stability as an aluminum or plywood floor. Furthermore, inflatable floors can cost 20 to 30 percent more than an aluminum or plywood floor.