Considering the options when it's time to replace your engine covers
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Sat Jan 4, 2020 at 11:35am

Considering The Options When It's Time to Replace your Engine Covers

There is a tendency over time for exposed wooden engine boards to deteriorate by getting damp and rotting. Which in time could undermine stability of the boats engine board and an unsuspecting helmsman could fall through the rotten board, which could cause quite a nasty injury.

So we thought we'd discuss the options when it comes to replacing the deckboards above your engine. You basically have three choices of materials to use; aluminium checkerplate, marine ply or haxagrip. Most boats will require the boards to be tailor made due to each and every boat being built differently, meaning that there isn't usually an 'off the shelf' option.

Option One Marine Plywood

Marine plywood is the cheapest option, with a starting price of around £200, basically built with pull rings and covered in rubber matting. Marine Plywood is made from veneers from tropical hardwood, so it is better than standard ply when exposed to moisture, although not waterproof, so you must make sure that you seal any cut edges and use sanded paint to give a non slip finish.

Option Two Hexagrip

Hexagrip is also called phenolic plywood. It's durable and anti-slip, textured on one side with a rough film surface making it waterproof. So ideal for engine covers. Lifespan should be around ten years and the price is mid range.

Option Three Aluminium Checkerplate


Basically like the material used for a manhole cover. Aluminium Checkerplate has the advantage of being very lightweight and rot resistant. It costs more than the other options, but is undoubtedly the most durable option to use as an engine cover. This option will provide a longer term solution than either marine ply or hexagrip. The downsides are that it's anti-slip credentials are not brilliant in wet weather, and in hot weather you'd want to avoid stepping onto it with bear feet. However it's worth putting down a mat to rectify both of these issues.

Top Tip

If you are making the engine covers yourself, it's best to strengthen under the pull rings with a patch of wood which allows use of longer fixing screws.


Rebecca Winn | Sat Aug 15, 2020 at 12:49am
Do you have any advice as to where i could get these custom made and how much for?
Whilton Marina | Mon Aug 17, 2020 at 3:25pm
Hi Rebecca, I can give you the details of companies that custom make the boars. What board did where you interested in? Marine plywood, Hexagrip, or Aluminium checkplate?
Steve | Tue Sep 14, 2021 at 4:01pm
Hi there, I'm looking to fit out the internal of a widebeam narrowboat. The plan will be that the boat will be a sailaway and will come with first fittings of electrics and plumbing. I have a Joiner, Electrician and Plumber, none of them have fitted out a widebeam or any type of boat for that matter before but are extremley good at what they do. As a project manager/complete novice I would be extremley grateful for any expert advice you could offer me please. Kind Regards, Steve
Linda Holmes | Sun Oct 10, 2021 at 10:43am
Please can you advise best suppliers of hexagrip thank you.
Sian | Tue Nov 30, 2021 at 11:57am
Thanks for his very handy section. We have bought some buffalo board to replace our rotten deck boards. I understand we need to seal the edges, what should we use to do this? A polyurethane varnish or something? As for sanded paint can you also please recommend a decent paint to cover the boards, just add sand right? Like we did on the roof. Thank you
Brian Sykes | Sun Jul 17, 2022 at 1:59pm
We can see from one of the above comments that you could recommend companies that make engine cover boards. Our existing board came with the boat about 15years ago. (we have only had the boat about 2 years) The engine compartment cover looks to be made from plywood with a plasticised covering that looks like teak boarding laths. Do you have details of any companies that could make a replacement.ThanksBrian
Liam | Thu Aug 25, 2022 at 4:29pm
Hi, What thickness hexagrip board would you recommend using over the engine bay?Thanks
Wendy Davidson | Sun Feb 5, 2023 at 3:20pm
Could you please supply details of firms who make custom fit hinged engine board covers preferably using aluminium check plate. Our boat is based on the Peak Forest Canal. Many thanks
Whilton Marina | Thu Mar 9, 2023 at 11:15am
Hi Wendy, Take a look at canal pages - this includes business contact details that will be able to help you out. ThanksWhilton Marina

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