Testing out using foam for the side decking on a raft frame

We’ve started messing around with a new - to us – product. It’s a closed cell PE/EVA blended foam material from a company called SeaDek. It’s UV resistant, non-absorbent, specifically formulated for marine applications, and used on sailboats, ski boats, SUPs, etc. We’re not the first to give this idea a try, but we wanted to test it out for ourselves. What will it be like on the side decks of one of our raft frames?

The messing around got started in the spring, when we put down a sample block of foam on the floor, right in the middle of the shop.  We ran welding tables over it, threw screwdrivers at it, and intentionally dropped stuff on it. It held up surprising well to this abuse.

At first we were thinking it might be a good product for the tops of dry boxes and other places you might sit on your raft. Turns out the 5mm SeaDek is not as "tush" friendly as the 5/8” closed cell cross linked polyethylene foam (XLPE) we’ve used before. For seats it seems better to keep using the fine-celled 5/8” thick XPLE foam.

SeaDek is dense and tough. Perfectly suited for a raft frame’s side decks? To see if this was the case, we built a frame with smooth (not diamond plated) side decks, had it powder coated, detailed it out, installed the SeaDek, and then decided to go rafting!
We took a trip through Cataract canyon in July. Each day brought temperatures over 100⁰ F. The SeaDek did a great job of keeping things cool, provided as much or more traction as diamond plate, was easy to clean, and incredibly barefoot friendly. Turns out it was a great way to outfit the side decks.

Next we are going to make a footwell floor with SeaDek. Stay tuned for the results of that experiment. Until then, since we really liked the SeaDek on the side decks, we will start offering SeaDek foamed side decks as an option for our raft frames this winter and into 2019.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy your time on the water.