Shipbuilding Adhesives for Bonding Marine Composites

Composite materials are used thoroughly in shipbuilding applications. In this article, we explore shipbuilding techniques and the best adhesives and sealants used for bonding and protecting them.

Table of Contents

shipbuilding boat

Composite Materials in Shipbuilding Processes

Shipbuilding processes utilise composite materials due to their exemplary properties. Composites are composed of two or more different materials which work together to provide improved strength, durability and load distribution.

The advantages of marine composites, which make them suitable for shipbuilding, can be summarised by:

  • Low maintenance costs
  • High durability – leading to improved longevity
  • Resistance to corrosion
  • Easily repairable
  • High strength to weight ratio

The global marine composites market is estimated to grow to a value of $5 billion by 2023. This major growth in the market is accounted for by the increasing demand for corrosion-resistant and lightweight boats.

Here we describe a few of the most common composites used in shipbuilding.


Ferrocement is a traditional shipbuilding process which utilises composites to construct barges, hulls, shell roofs and water tanks. It consists of plaster or reinforced mortar being poured over a steel frame that is enmeshed with metal fibres (such as chicken wire).

As a composite structure, ferrocement advantage from being relatively lightweight, long-lasting (due to the metal reinforcements) and cheap to maintain. However, it is a labour-intensive construction project, and the corrosion and degradation of the steel frame can be a concern if it’s not pretreated before construction.

Carbon fibre

Carbon fibre is used increasingly in the interiors mouldings of boats; being particularly popular in sailboats. Carbon fibre is known for its excellent stability and mechanical performance at minimal weight. Shipbuilding composites which utilise carbon fibre are common in honeycomb structures in keels, hulls, poles and masts. Carbon fibre is often used in its form of CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced polymer) in the superstructures of ships. One of the only downsides of CFRP is that it is expensive to produce.

Glass-reinforced plastic / Fibreglass

Glass-reinforced plastic, commonly referred to as fibreglass, is a composite formed of a polymer matrix reinforced with glass fibres. Due to its intricately woven structure, it possesses excellent strength (higher than most metals), low weight, corrosion and chemical resistance, and greater flexibility than carbon fibre. As a result, it is commonly used in roof trims, flooring and handrails within boats.

Shipbuilding Adhesives to Bond Marine Composites

Our top brand Huntsman Araldite provide various shipbuilding adhesives that are designed with marine composite bonding in mind. MMA adhesives, in particular, are ideal for bonding composites efficiently. Generally, adhesives provide many advantages when compared to traditional bonding techniques. For marine applications specifically, these advantages range from:

  • Reduce production time and downtime by up to 50%
  • Repairs become possible in wet conditions
  • Improve fatigue and impact resistance
  • Increase durability of bonded structures

Here we explore a few products from our range of adhesives for the marine industry.

Araldite 2023

Araldite 2023 is a two-component MMA adhesive that is ideal for bonding thick joint lines and heavy load structures in marine applications. It is highly flexible, yet tough, allowing gap-filling and non-sagging bonds in dynamic environments. It is also UV stable.

Araldite 2051

Araldite 2051 is a two-component MMA adhesive that is ideal for bonding composites, metals and thermoplastics within extreme conditions. It allows extremely quick repairs of composites within boats from 0°C to 40°C regardless of the levels of water and humidity present. It requires no pre-treatment to bond and provides excellent resilience to vibrational, dynamic and impact loads.

Araldite 2015-1

Araldite 2015-1 is a two-component epoxy paste adhesive that is ideal for bonding fibreglass and honeycomb structures within boats. It provides good weatherability properties, high rigidity and long service life. Additionally, its open time of 45 minutes at room temperature makes it suitable for bonding large structures.

Araldite 2031-1

Araldite 2031-1 is a two-component black epoxy paste adhesive that is ideal for bonding fibreglass and other composite structures within boats. It provides high weathering resistance, room-temperature curing and a non-sagging resilient bond up to 10mm thickness.

Discover our full range of marine products to help you cut costs and improve durability today!

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If you have a problem with industrial adhesives, sealants, or electronic protection products and require advice, you can contact our technical support service. Our team can help you to optimize your processes and applications.

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