What Are Houseboats Made Of?

Living on a houseboat is an adventurous way to enjoy life, especially if you are a lover of the water. Unlike a beach house, a houseboat can allow you to become even further away from land and closer to the water. This will enable you to bask in peace and serenity that large bodies of water offer. 

Indeed, it is a different lifestyle. However, not many people opt to live this way of life. In fact, houseboat ownership makes up a small amount in the housing sector.

This is because houseboating comes with a pretty big change of living circumstances and certain sacrifices. Also, houseboats can range from rustic to sleek and luxurious so finding something that suits your specific tastes may take a while as there is a wide range of houseboats with varying designs and builds.

One thing that people who are interested in houseboats wonder about is what exactly they are made of. Knowing what different houseboats are made of can help you decide on which houseboat to buy but ultimately it is more curiosity most of the time. 

Most houseboats are made of a mix of the following materials: 

  • Wood
  • Aluminum 
  • Steel 
  • Fiberglass 

What amount of a houseboat is the each of these materials varies from build to build but almost all houseboats will have some or all of these materials in them. 

If you are looking to purchase your own houseboat or to just satisfy your curiosity, in the rest of this article we will explore this question a little deeper while answering additional questions that will make you more aware of houseboats and all that they have to offer.

What Are Houseboats Made Of?

Let us start off with the burning question that you are hoping to know what houseboats are made of. 

Houseboats have been around for many centuries and are shown in many ancient cultures and civilizations. In ancient times, houseboats were made of bamboo sticks, wooden planks, and coconut fiber ropes. Over the years, the craftsmanship of houseboats has changed and modified, giving birth to the modern houseboats that we see today.

Today, houseboats are constructed with a wide range of materials that help to maintain their durability. Each construction material gives rise to their own advantages and disadvantages, and it is now your job to weigh them and arrive at the best option for you. The materials that are usually used during houseboat construction include:

  • Aluminum
  • Fiberglass
  • Steel
  • Wood
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Aluminium Construction Material

Aluminum is one of the most commonly used construction materials used for modern day houseboats. Due to this, you will be able to navigate the world of houseboating as more skilled professionals will be proficient in building, repairing, and maintaining this type of material. It is also lightweight, durable, rust, and corrosion-resistant.

In addition to this, it is reasonably easy to maintain as it only requires yearly checkups and maintenance. This will all come together and result in a construction material that is durable and can last you and your family a long time.

On the other hand, one of the primary cons of the aluminum construction material is that there is the possibility of the material experiencing electrolytic corrosion, also known as galvanic corrosion. It is recommended that you keep an eye out for this possibly happening, so you can use the necessary measures to prevent it from worsening. If you are not trained where this is concerned, feel free to consult with a skilled profession for additional help and expertise.


  1. Lightweight
  2. Strong and durable
  3. Repairs and maintenance are easy
  4. Corrosion and rust-resistant


  1. Galvanic corrosion (electrolytic corrosion)

Fiberglass Construction Material

Similar to aluminum, fiberglass is also commonly used and is a popular construction material for houseboats. This will make it well-known within the industry, especially when it comes to its repairs and maintenance. 

In addition to this, fiberglass is actually lighter than aluminum, making it another lightweight material that you can choose from.

Also, fiberglass is easily repaired, and maintenance is a breeze since it only requires simple cleaning and waxing. Washing and waxing only takes a clean, soft cloth and gel compounds to keep it shiny and looking brand-new.

Naturally, as it ages and has been exposed to the elements, the lifespan of the fiberglass can be negatively affected and decrease over time. Therefore, it is essential that you properly take care of and maintain your fiberglass.


  1. Popular
  2. Lightweight
  3. Easy repair and maintenance

Steel Construction Materials

On the spectrum, steel construction materials are an older version of the aluminum and fiberglass materials so you will typically find this in older houseboats. Due to its age, it is not commonly used in the construction of houseboats today and is rarely seen as compared to its counterparts. 

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However, it still has its benefits that you should be aware of. 

For instance, steel is known to be reliable, easily repaired, and maintained and difficult to damage and rot. Because it is relatively old, steel houseboats are normally much cheaper than their fiberglass and aluminum counterparts.

However, there are a few negatives of the steel construction material that you should know. Since it is not commonly used and not as popular as it was decades ago, steel houseboats may not have the necessary maintenance and repair. When it comes to purchasing or building your houseboat, you must keep this in mind.

Wood Construction Materials

Even older than steel is wood construction material. It has been used from the beginning of time, and thankfully, it still has a place in the modern era. Frankly, wood is beautiful, especially when it is well-maintained. However, it is not an easy material to manage, especially for newbies in this industry. However, the charm that wood offers is one of a kind, so it may be worth it.

As already stated, maintenance and care of wooden houseboats may be a daunting and tedious task. It may require yearly maintenance and repairs. Also, you may have to hire the expertise of a skilled professional who has an arsenal of tools at their disposal.

With wood you have to be worried about the actually material that makes up your boat rotting away which is not as much of a concern with the other materials mentioned above. 

Other Elements Of A Houseboat

As we all know, houseboats are different from yachts or pontoons, even though they can be easily confused. There are specific elements that distinguish houseboats from the other classes of water vehicles.

To understand what makes a houseboat a houseboat, we will have to first look at its definition. Houseboats are defined as a house that floats on the water and can be moored and is used as a dwelling or home. Its design can range from a small hut on a raft to a large and luxurious home. 

You can choose to purchase a new houseboat or buy them used or you can even choose to build your own houseboat from scratch using the previously mentioned materials, tools, and skills.

Houseboats are an excellent and fun way to offer you shelter and a place to live. It gives you a new and exciting experience, but it does have its limitations. Modest houseboats that are more common can easily be compared with the general apartment-size home. Also, to enjoy the ordinary conveniences of land homes, you may have to purchase a more expensive and luxurious houseboat.

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Houseboats also differ from land homes because of the different names for particular sections of the houseboat. This is just one of the things that differentiates a houseboat from a usual land home. With that said, here are the different names of a houseboat that you should know:

  1. The bedroom – Stateroom
  2. The kitchen – Galley
  3. The bathroom – Head
  4. The bed – Berth
  5. The living room – Salon
  6. The room where passengers can meet – Cabin
  7. The room where the navigation equipment (radio, charts, GPS) are located – Nav Station
  8. The room where the boat is steered – Cockpit

These are just the most common rooms and areas that you will find on a houseboat or even a house on the land. However, they can change depending on the owner’s tastes and preferences. 

The Navigation Station is a necessary element of a houseboat because, naturally, the houseboat should have the ability to navigate the open waters. Furthermore, the Navigation Station gives you the crucial means of charting your positions and contacting emergency services if the need arises.

In Essence

There is so much that houseboats offer that many people have taken the plunge to own their own. Whether you are deciding if owning the houseboat is for you, or you are just curious, you may be wondering what houseboats are made of. 

Houseboats are made from a variety of materials, which all carry their pros and cons. These include aluminum, fiberglass, steel, and wood. It is now your job to weigh the pros and cons, decide on your preferred style, and come up with the best one that suits you. Thankfully, you have a lot of choices when it comes to houseboats so the options are almost limitless. 

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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