iboats - The #1 Store For Everything Boating  

How To Replace Rub Rails

Hardware > How To Replace Rub Rails

Looking to improve the looks of your boat

Rub rails, in addition to protecting your boat from docks, pilings and other boats, provide an aesthetic and styling function that really add to your craft's appearance.

iboats.com carries a complete line of TACO Marine Products to help you with the job. With a TACO rub rail, you can easily restore your boat with the original rub rail your boat manufacturer installed. Want to change the look You can choose another style to give your boat that extra finished, distinctive look, along with the proper protection.

To help you assess the job requirements and get you started, here is TACO Marine's guide full of tips and techniques to do the job right.

You can replace your rub rail with a factory replacement style or a completely different look. Regardless of the material originally installed by the builder of your boat, feel free to choose the material and style you desire.

  • Rub rail is easier to install if you remember to choose a rub rail that is at least the same height as the original.
  • Flexible vinyl rub rail is the easiest to bend and provides a cushioning effect against normal bumps from pilings and docks.
  • Rigid vinyl and aluminum rub rail with flexible vinyl insert perform well, last longer and are easy to install straight.
  • Rigid vinyl rub rail with stainless steel overlap provides the best protection and the longest useful life.


Before You Begin

  1. Ensure the length of the rub rail is sufficient for your boat. It is always better to buy more than you need.
  2. Make sure to purchase all the materials needed (rub rail, insert, fasteners, end caps, splice caps, etc") to complete the job.
  3. Carefully read all the instructions before beginning. TACO also provides a "Rub Rail Installation Video/DVD" with purchase of their product.

Measuring Your Boat

  1. Measure the length and width of your boat.
  2. Multiply length by two and add together with beam.
  3. The total will give you the minimum length of rub rail required for your boat in feet.

Tools and Supplies Needed

  1. TACO rub rail and insert
  2. Measuring tape
  3. Safety goggles
  4. Electric drill, appropriate screwdriver bit and correctly sized drill bit. (Note: Using two drills with different bits speeds up this process.)
  5. Putty knife or scraper
  6. Caulking gun with silicone sealant or a tube of 3M 5200
  7. Metal file
  8. Heat gun (for rigid vinyl rub rail and flexible inserts)
  9. Garden shears (for cutting flexible vinyl rub rail and inserts) or hacksaw/power saw & cutoff wheel (for cutting stainless steel overlaps)
  10. Miter box (for metal and rigid vinyl rub rail)
  11. Rubber mallet
  12. TACO Rub Rail Installation Video/DVD
  13. Fasteners

Removal of Old Rub Rail and Hull Preparation

  1. Remove the end caps.
  2. Remove the insert and the stiffening strip, if there is one.
  3. Remove the screws or rivets that attach the rub rail to the hull. If the rub rail is fastened with pop rivets, drill out the rivet head and push the shaft in, to prevent rattling.
  4. Remove the rub rail.
  5. Use a putty knife to scrape off any old sealant, being careful not to scratch the gelcoat. (It is unnecessary to remove all the old sealant, just the excess.)
  6. Fill all holes with sealant/3M 5200. (You will be drilling new holes for the new rub rail.)
  7. Let the sealant cure according to the manufacturers suggestions.


The most popular TACO rub rails are available in a complete kit. They come in 50", 70" and 100" kits, which include the rub rail, insert, truss head or oval head screws, and end caps. To view TACO rub rails from iboats, click here.

Flexible Vinyl Installation
TIP: To ensure a straight and consistent installation when installing flexible vinyl rub rail, it is best to stretch the rub rail during the installation process. Two people make this job much easier!
With flexible vinyl rub rail, the opening for the insert and fasteners may be narrower than the screw head. During installation, have something handy that can spread the opening until the screw head has passed the front opening.
Use caution. The drill chuck can damage the rub rail if it touches during drilling of the holes.

  1. Place masking tape above or below where the rub rail will go. Mark where the new holes are going to be located. Be sure to avoid the old filled holes. Space the holes a maximum of 6" apart.

  2. Note: this should be the first step in all rub rail installations.
  3. Mark the midpoint of the rub rail with a piece of tape and soak the flexible rub rail in a tub of hot water (maximum 120 degrees F") or outside in the sun on the grass or pavement. Avoid sliding or dragging the rub rail on the pavement, as it will scratch. Either process should take at least 20 minutes to properly heat the rub rail.
  4. While it is warm, lay out the rub rail (following the gunwale of the boat) with the mark at the bow.
  5. Drill 2 holes through the rub rail about 2" apart on one side of the bow and install the truss-head screws. Use silicone on the threads to create a water-tight seal.
  6. With the two fasteners installed at the bow, go to the stern and stretch the rub rail by pulling it from the bow, towards the stern. Drill and install two screws at the stern position (this must be done while the rub rail remains warm and pliable).
  7. Quickly do the same stretching and fastening procedure on the opposite side.
  8. Install the rub rail along the transom and install a screw 1" back from the center line. Trim off the excess. Repeat the process on the other side. (Use a heat gun to bend on tight corners).
  9. Go back to the bow and begin drilling the holes according to the marks you made on the masking tape. Put silicone on the threads and install the screws.
  10. Repeat the process until the entire rub rail has been installed.
  11. To install the insert and end caps, see the following sections in this brochure.
TIP: Be careful not to over-tighten the screws or the rub rail will pucker (wrinkle).


There are three types of inserts. As indicated below, the first two must be heated in order to be installed. Install inserts beginning either at an end cap or at the transom. To view TACO rub rails from iboats, click here.

TIP: To avoid insert shrinkage, always screw down each end of flexible insert. The screws will be hidden from view once you install the end caps.

Tubular Insert
V12-0810, V12-0003, V12-0005

  1. Using a heat gun, heat approx. 3" of insert until it compresses with a pinch.
  2. Flatten the insert between your fingers and insert it into the rub rail until the heated section has been installed.
  3. Repeat in maximum 3" increments until the entire insert has been installed.

V12-0303 Insert

  1. Using a heat gun, heat approx. 2" of insert until it is hot to the touch.
  2. Insert a few inches of the top leg into the rub rail.
  3. Using a stiff putty knife, poke the bottom leg into the channel.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the heated section has been installed.
  5. Heat the next 2" and repeat steps 2 through 4 until the entire insert has been installed.

Soft Flexible Inserts

V12-0317, V12-0334, V12-0338, V12-0342, V12-0347, V12-0426, V12-1069, V12-2207, V12-4018, V12-4144 & V12-5818
  1. These inserts can be installed at room temperature.
  2. Squeeze the insert between your fingers and insert it into the channel of the rub rail until the entire insert has been installed.
  3. Tapping it with a rubber mallet will help set the insert. Inserts V12-0317 & V12-0334 need to be set by tapping it with a rubber mallet.

There are two types of end caps:

  1. In line end caps are installed on the same surface as the rub rail.
  2. Corner end caps are used when a rub rail ends at the transom. Corner end caps are installed on the transom with the cap extending out the side to cap the rub rail.

TACO also offers:

  • "Sandwich" Style Rub Rails " for use with a horizontal flange type of hull to deck joint.
  • Semi-rigid vinyl Rub Rails
  • Rigid Rub Rails
  • Aluminum Rub Rails
  • Stainless Steel Rub Rails and Overlaps
  • Stainless Steel Rail Ends
  • Stainless Steel Rub Strakes

To view TACO rub rails from iboats, click here.

Other TACO Marine products carried by iboats.com include dock bumpers, storage boxes, support poles, tubing, marine lumber, nylon and stainless steel mounts and fittings, fishing rod holders, outriggers, flag mounts, and cover supports.

Back to top

Sign Up to Receive iboats.com Review Newsletter: Includes 'How To' tips, special sales, and more.

Disclaimer for iboats.com Review Articles:
The information and articles provided in this e–monthly and/or in any publications provided by iboats.com are for general purposes only and intended to help you make better decisions about your boat and boating equipment. Such information is not intended to substitute for instructions from the manufacturer, dealer or marina about your specific boat or boating equipment and iboats specifically disclaims any liability for damage to your boat or equipment arising from your following suggestions in this e–monthly. For more details about your equipment or application, we suggest you contact the manufacturer of your boat or other equipment.

Copyright Notice:
All materials contained on the iboats.com site and on this Review publication are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed (except for use of the iboats.com "Email to a Friend"), transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of iboats.com or in the case of third party materials, the owner of that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

Sign-Up for iboats.com Review Newsletter

  • Sign Up to Receive iboats.com Review Newsletter. Includes 'How To' tips, special sales, and more. Sign Up Now


Your email address is 100% safe and secure . We honor your privacy and will never sell or trade it with anyone.
Click here for our privacy policy     See Registration Details