When resurfacing counter-tops, ceilings, etc. in marine vessels, what materials stand up the best to moisture, yet are manipulable enough without excessive tooling?

This can be at many levels of difficulty. I'm most concerned with the case of a sailboat at a mooring; which means you do not have access to AC power and the ability to place heavy items on solid ground. Everything has to fit into a tender/dinghy. So, the material has to be cuttable by battery-powered tools, or by hand. It also has to be light and easy enough to move with a single-person in a small tender.

For example: Is linoleum counter top material good for galley counter tops? Does the necessary adhesive stand up to marine conditions? What might be better?

Some surfaces of concern:

  • Galley countertops
  • Cabin walls
  • Table tops
  • Bathroom walls
  • 1
    what kind of marine vessels are we talking about? and what you mean manipulate without excessive tooling? what can be excessive for you might not be for me, and materials I'd use in a new catamaran I wouldnt use in a classic sailboat etc... usable materials are many and choice depends even on how much weight you can put in the boat, saw some with stone countertops and some with thin marine ply...also countertops and ceilings work very differently depending on the vessel (so, even the etc)... Specify vessel and tools available and what kind of "resurfacing" job is, please Jun 8, 2016 at 13:24
  • Very constructive suggestion. I will update the question.
    – TomSchober
    Jun 8, 2016 at 14:24
  • Yes, fine... but is this a classic woodenboat, or fiberglass? is it a 24' or a 35' or more? Is this the first job you have to do on a boat? have you searched for materials with suppliers? asked around to other boatowners at the marina? Is this ripping off and rebuild or trying to glue something on top of what there is?(doing that is trouble waiting to happen btw)... Depending on the condition of whats there the job can involve a ton of sanding, reconditioning, repainting or complete rebuilds. Jun 9, 2016 at 18:13
  • btw ditch the linoleum, look into solid wood, marine ply or corian (corian offcuts can be had by contractors that build home kitckens or remodel old ones). Balsacore and foamcore can be fine as tabletops, obviously even here solid wood is a good choice. Some stuff is structural some isnt so the materials are also different. Its hard to give a proper answer to this given that the info given is very little. You might not be able to do all onboard make templates, make sure the pieces can get in, check if a second dinghy is available for bringing the materials Jun 9, 2016 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


Materials to consider:

Counter tops:

  • Formica on marine or pressure treated plywood. Working with formica is fairly straight forward. You need a battery laminate trimming tool.

  • HDPE. High density polyethelene. Easy to cut. Available in 1/8, 1/4 and 1/2 thicknesses. VERY slick. On a boat, I'd put edges on the counter to keep things from sliding off.

  • Linoleum (not vinyl flooring) is a very viable option, but subject to knife cuts. I grew up with lino countertops. We replaced it with formica after about 15 years because water destroyed the plywood underlay.

  • Butcherblock -- from ikea. Heavy, but durable. Need to keep it oiled. I use this in my house, but I've set it up so that it can be flipped and oiled. This one needs to be cut at home. Fails the lightweight test.

Do not get too wrapped up in easy tooling. Remember that generators are cheap, and running one for an hour or so to get your project done is not a big deal.


PT plywood + paint. Easy to cut with jigsaw. Prepaint full sheets at home. This way you only have minor trimming. Lots of cool decorative things you can do with stencils.

Roofing tin. Needs a solid backing. You can get it in various ridged patterns for rigidity, or in full width smooth strips.

Ceilings. Moisture isn't as big a concern here. (If your ceilings get wet, I suspect you have other, more serious problems.)

If you have the height, consider hanging T-bar ceiling. The space between the real ceiling and the tiles give you a place to hide all sorts of utilities with easy access.

OTOH, there is a lot to be said for not finishing the ceilings with anything but a coat of varnish or paint.

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