Deck Plates

I am in the process of restoring an old Shenandoah canoe. I’ve replaced all of the wood, but was told not to use wood for the deck plates as this will cause both the plates and the gunnels to rot faster. I am looking for opinions on this, and what to use if wood is not the feasible answer. Thanks.


I haven’t had a problem
I have a Mad River Explorer with wood deck plates. It was stored outside for at least 7 years, and I haven’t seen a problem. I remove them once a year and re-varnish them when I oil the gunwhales. Now it is under cover, so I think it is less of an issue for me. If your boat is sheltered and maintained, I wouldn’t worry excessively.


Configuration, not material
I think the shape of things has more to do with it than the material.

With a solid deck plate, when the boat is stored upside down the space where the deck plate and gunnels come together can hold water. This causes things to rot.

Scuppered deck plates, or adding some strategically place drain holes let the water out, and no rot.

many ways …

– Last Updated: Oct-26-11 9:18 PM EST –

...... to create a deck plate . I suppose much depends on what type of look you want , and the limits of imagination .

Like on old wood and canvas canoes , traditionally the deck plates are fitted inbetween and flush with the top of the inwhales .

Other styles are simple caps that fasten down on top of the inwhales and/or outwhales . These are probably the easiest pattern and fit , and hide much under them .

Some types wrap completely around the gunnels , and none of the inwhale or outwhale terminating ends are visible . Basic plastic deck caps are one type often seen like this .

Other types just have the smallest of deck caps at the ends with grab/carry handles added into the mix .

I guess a question is , what have you planned for , how have you terminated the wooden inwhales and outwhales ... did you plan to have the terminations exposed and be finish looking style , or should they be covered up now ??

Believe it or not , it's a simple matter to fabricate deck plates out of fiberglass cloth and resin if you want that . You just need to cut yourself a pattern from a block of rigid foam board and lay-up the cloth over the foam pattern . You can make just about any shape your imagination can figure , just an idea for you to consider .

Most definately where there's wood involved at deck plates and/or gunnels , leave a drain out in the tip somewhere ... good idea even on all plastic canoes .

Something else to consider , woods like Ipe , Teak etc. are virtually rot proof . I've read that Ipe can be left exposed and unfinished for 100 years and still be good ... and from my experience with it , I believe that .