Aluminum Rub Rail Installation Instructions

Caution: Depending on the complexity of the installation, professional help and/or tools may be required.


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


  • Ensure the length of the rub rail is sufficient for your boat. It is always better to buy more than you need
  • Make sure to purchase all the materials needed (rub rail, insert, fasteners, end caps, splice caps, etc…) to complete the job
  • Carefully read all the instructions before beginning and/or watch the TACO Rub Rail Installation Video/DVD


  1. Measure the length and width of your boat
  2. Add them together and multiply by two
  3. The total will give you the minimum length of rub rail required for your boat in feet


  • TACO rub rail and insert
  • Measuring tape
  • Safety goggles
  • Two cordless drills (one for a screwdriver bit and one for a drill bit)
  • Putty knife or scraper
  • Caulking gun with silicone sealant or a tube of 3M 5200
  • Metal file
  • Heat gun (for rigid vinyl rub rail and flexible inserts)
  • Garden shears (for cutting flexible vinyl rub rail and inserts) or hacksaw/power saw & cutoff wheel (for cutting stainless steel overlaps)
  • Miter box (for metal and rigid vinyl rub rail)
  • Rubber mallet
  • TACO Rub Rail Installation Video/DVD
  • Fasteners


  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


Available in 12’ and 20’ lengths with holes pre-drilled every 6”. Some aluminum rub rails incorporate vinyl inserts, while others do not.


  1. Place masking tape above or below where the rub rail will go and mark where the new holes should go.
  2. Place the center of the first length on the bow. If a mounting hole is already there, move it to one side 3”.
  3. Press the rub rail against the hull until you come back to one end.
  4. If any of the holes line up with the filled holes, try adjusting the rub rail a few inches one way or the other. Avoid a hole within two inches of either side of the bow.
  5. Drill through the pre-drilled holes with a drill bit smaller than the screw.
  6. Coat the threads with Silicone or 3M 5200 and install the screw.
  7. Continue this process up to the bend at the bow.
  8. Bend the rub rail around the bow by applying steady pressure with one hand while you lightly tap the rub rail with a rubber mallet where you want it to bend. Once bent remove insert and install screws.
  9. Complete the installation of the rest of the rub rail.
  10. Butt the next length up against the previously installed length. If a hole lines up with a filled hole, cut a few inches off the end in a miter box. This will change the location of the holes.
  11. TIP: Before bending, if the rub rail takes an insert, install about 6” of insert into the bend site to keep the channel from collapsing or losing shape during bending but do not cut it off the roll.
  12. Continue this process until you come back to the other end of the length you installed at the bow. Measure the last length carefully so that it fits tightly and install the screws.
  13. Install the insert.


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.

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.


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 & 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.


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.