Jon Boat Floor Guide
Jon boat floor. Larry may call it a deck. Don’t be Larry, it’s called a floor. It’s going to be on the bottom of the boat. So you may be interested in making a floor for you aluminum jon boat and you had the smart idea to do a little bit of research before you went out and did it. Let me first congratulate you on that you smart, overachiever you. I’ll try to keep it simple and to the point, but I am not promising it will be short…
Planning your Jon Boat Floor
You need a plan. You first need to ask yourself; “What am I using the boat for?“. This matters because you may be putting a floor in your duck boat/jon boat/mud boat and you’ll need to be able to easily clean it after your mud boots and wet dog have been in it all day. On the other extreme, you may be putting a floor in your jon boat to bass boat conversion where your fishing those tournaments with the fancy, sparkly boats! #custom So hopefully you see where I’m getting at with planning out your jon boat floor.
With that in mind, you’ll need to pick your floor material. For all the different floor types, no matter what the difference is, your base layer should be XPS (extruded) Polystyrene. AKA the pink or blue foam insulation that doesn’t make a mess when you cut it with a knife. I’m going to be calling that XPS foam through-out the guide. You’ll have the XPS foam on the bottom, but depending on your needs, the top layer that goes over your foam will change.
- Thin plywood treated with paint
- Work out/ gym mats that fit together like a puzzle – nice and squooshy
- Horse mat (Locally I can get it from Tracker Supply) – rubber mat that comes in different thicknesses
- Plywood with carpet on top
- Metal floor #custom _ If you have your own welder, metal brake, & more tools
I chose thin plywood and sealed it with paint like I did my casting/fishing deck.
Do you need to plan anything else?
Now you have the XPS foam on your shopping list, along with your floor material that you want to use. Do you need anything else like adhesives or hardware?
- Bolts, nuts/rivnuts/nutserts, washers – to fasten the floor to the boat? I did this with my plywood jon boat floor.
- Adhesives – maybe you want to glue the horse mat or workout mat to the foam. I don’t know? Just giving you ideas. I don’t know if they’re good or not…
- Welding materials if you plan on welding in a metal floor?
- Tie down hardware, mounts for rods or coolers, a place to tie your tiller handle up too? Remember, you’re covering up the ribs on the floor of your jon boat. You will not be able to access them unless you incorporate that into your plan.
You get the idea. Make this floor up in your head, and write down what you’ll need to make it. Also, watch my videos on how I did mine and critique it to fit your needs. Now lets move onto measuring.
Measuring for your Custom Fit Jon Boat Floor
This is where things can go south real quick (in a bad way). How skillful are you? If you can cut a straight line with a jigsaw without a guide, and you know the difference between a metal and wood blade, I’m not talking to you, move on further down the page. But if you’re still reading, whether you’re not that skillful or just want to be lazy with it, I would recommend these options:
- If you’re thinking about making your floor out of plywood – If you don’t trust your carpentry skills, I would just make one rectangular piece and not try to cut out where your ribs go on the sides.
- If you want to keep things as simple as possible, it seems like the horse mat and gym mat would be fairly easy to make fit around the ribs of the jon boat.
Measure out how much material you need, both for your XPS foam and for the material you plan to use on top of the foam for your jon boat floor. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Measure out how thick of foam you need, and how thick you want your top material to be. Then, when you’re in the store, measure what you plan to get because the physical dimensions may be different from the advertised dimensions. Also, measure for the length of the bolts you plan to use and other things of that nature.
Measuring out the Ribs
If you want to make things complicated and make it #proffesional #custom , then I can try to give a quick crash course on how I learned to measure things from drafting class in high school. I’ll post a video to the YouTube channel so you can follow along. Trying to explain it in writing would only confuse you and me at the same time.
Extruded (XPS) Polystyrene for Jon Boat Floors
Extruded Polystyrene?! What??? Yes, as I said earlier in this guide, most people know it by the pink or blue styrofoam that doesn’t make a mess when you cut it. First styrofoam is a brand name. Polystyrene is the “politically correct” term but you know what I’m talking about when I say styrofoam, and I would only confuse others who did not read this sentence.
In short, there are two different kinds of styrofoam; Expanded (EPS) and Extruded (XPS). We want to use Extruded, the XPS.
- GOOD – XPS – Extruded Polystyrene – Does NOT soak up water, and does NOT easily crumble into small pieces.
- BAD – EPS – Expanded Polystyrene – Has the ability to soak up and hold water, and it crumbles into small pieces. This is bad because it can hold water, allowing it to become heavy, and harbor mold.
XPS foam, how do you get it?
You can get the XPS foam at your local hardware store. I normally shop at Lowes or Home Depot. I found that if Lowes didn’t have the size/thickness I wanted, Home Depot had it, and same goes for the other way around. Here is a link to their XPS foam for Lowes & Home Depot.
If you’re going to double stack your foam, only cut out your first layer, put it in place, and then measure again with that first layer of foam in place to get the measurements for your second layer of foam. If you don’t, you can watch me mess that up here on YouTube.
I cut my foam with a regular utility knife. It cut it pretty well. I used a metal straight edge to help guide me in cutting straight lines. You could use a hot foam cutter, this is the best-reviewed one on Amazon for $19, but I know everyone doesn’t have one so I thought I would try it with a knife and it worked out great.
Jon Boat Floor Top Material
So you planned out your jon boat floor, measured what you needed, and got your XPS foam situation handled. Now, you need to get that finishing touch upon your jon boat floor!
Plywood: Painted or Carpeted
It’s what I used for my jon boat floor and what I have experience with. I used it because it was cheap, lightweight, would be durable and last a long time, and easy for me to work on. I mainly used plywood for the floor of the jon boat, because I needed a strong, secure place to tie my longtail mud motor to when it wasn’t in use. (If you’re interested in longtail mud motors I have a very informative article here)Using the same paint I used for my casting/fishing deck, that was also made of plywood, my floor and fishing platform would match.
Workout / Gym mat
The mats I found were sticky-ish and I felt they wouldn’t clean the best if you got mud or silty grit on them. They were nice and squooshy which would be nice to stand on in rough water, but they just didn’t seem like a viable option to me, and I didn’t know how long they would last in the Florida sun. If you know someone who did it, or if you did your floor this way, please let me know.
Horse mat / Rubber mat
A few YouTube videos show them using the horse mat on top of the foam. It seemed great where you could take the mat off, along with the foam and clean under the floor as needed. In the Florida summer, I thought that black, rubber mat would really heat up and not be so nice, and I wanted a little more support, and sturdiness. It seemed like the rubber mat was pretty heavy also, and I couldn’t use it because I needed something to tie my longtail mud motor handle too.
My experience with plywood has been really good. I went with a 3/8″ piece of plywood. It is plenty sturdy. I fastened it to the ribs of my jon boat so it wouldn’t move/vibrate and it wouldn’t be allowed to twist or bend easily. I used bolts, washers, and rivnuts/nutserts to fasten the floor to the ribs of the jon boat. I painted it so it should last a few years. With the help of a 3/8″ plywood backer plate, it is strong enough to support the weight on the tiller handle from the longtail mud motor. It is easy to clean with a damp rag or I’m sure you could scrub it down if you really needed too. You could also put carpet on it, but I feel that’s not for mud boats, but more for a bass fishing type of jon boat.
The plywood, XPS foam, and the bolts & washers came to a total of less than $40. If you weigh the floor itself, its about 10 pounds. Awesome right?! AND the jon boat floor is removable, and the good thing is, if you need to replace it, you can trace the outline of it onto the new piece and not have to go through all the measuring again! If you need help choosing a jon boat, I have a guide on that here.
So if you’re interested to see how the jon boat floor project went for me, stick around! New articles and videos are posted every Saturday morning @08:30!