Aluminum is a lightweight metal that is easy to shape and fabricate, making it a good choice for boats. The lighter weight allows you to build up speed without putting excessive wear and tear on the engine and can make it easier to control your boat when moving in and out of reefs and areas of seaweed. It's also easy to transport an aluminum boat versus one that's heavier and causes more drag on your boat trailer. However, the drawback to aluminum is that it can corrode when exposed to saltwater and even other metals, so you need to care for your aluminum boat properly. Note a few simple tips.
1. Have it galvanized
Aluminum is often galvanized when used for boating. This refers to a coating of another metal, such as zinc, being put over the aluminum to help protect it. While this galvanizing may be done before the aluminum is used for making a boat, you may want to have it galvanized again after so much time on the water. Like sealing concrete or wood, this can give the aluminum protection in case the original coating has worn away. A boat maintenance company can usually do this galvanizing for you; it involves adding that coating of zinc with an electrical current, so it's not typically something boat owners can do on their own.
2. Paint it, but use the right materials
Painting can also help to protect your boat from damage as it hits the water and especially from saltwater, but ensure you use the right materials. You want a primer and a paint meant for aluminum, and one for boats in particular. Using a paint meant for an aluminum shed may not protect your boat from water damage, as it's unlikely that shed will be exposed to saltwater. Some aluminum paints may not have the right protection from such exposure. If you've ever used a generic metal paint on your boat and noticed the paint job didn't last, you might double check the primer and paint itself and ensure you've chosen the right type.
3. Avoid graphite
If you use a lubricant on the outside of your boat, avoid one with graphite in the ingredients. Graphite can corrode aluminum and cause damage, but it's a common substance found in some commercial lubricants. Be sure you read the labels or, better yet, use a lubricant meant for aluminum boats in particular so you avoid damage.