Gone Outdoors

How to Build a Deck for a Jon Boat

by Will Charpentier

An outboard motor on a jon boat makes a racket that lets every fish for miles know you have arrived and will be fishing. Even worse, it sends them scurrying for cover until they hear you move off. While your outboard's mounts isolate some of the noise and vibration, flooring will help if it's isolated from the bottom of the boat. Do this by using insulation to hold the decking off the boat.

Measure the bottom of your jon boat. Although the sides of the jon boat are curved, the bottom is routinely flat and rectangular.

Depending on the size of your jon boat, lay one or more sheets of plywood on the ground. Transfer the measurements of the bottom of the boat to the plywood. If the boat is more than 8 feet long, lay two pieces of plywood end to end and use a carpenter's chalk line to "snap" the measurements in place. Doing both sheets at once prevents variations between one sheet and the other.

Cut the plywood along the chalk lines with a circular saw. A circular saw is best because it makes a longer cut and doesn't tend to twist while making cuts. Use the paintbrush to paint the decking with wood sealer, paying particular attention to the edges of the plywood.

Lay the 1-inch thick self-adhesive insulation strips across the bottom of the boat, one every 10 inches. Install them by stripping the backing from the adhesive backed insulation strips, one at a time as they are used, and press them into place.

Lay the plywood decking on top of the insulation strips. Carpet the deck if you wish, by cutting a piece of carpet slightly larger than each piece of plywood. Turn the edges of the carpet under the bottom of the plywood, pull the carpet tight and staple in place. Then lay the carpeted deck back in the bottom of the boat.

Items you will need
  • Circular saw
  • Plywood
  • Wood sealer
  • Paintbrush
  • 1-inch self adhesive insulation strips
  • Carpenter's chalk line
  • Carpet knife
  • Staple gun


  • If you want to install vinyl on the deck, do so before you take the boat our the first time. Allow the vinyl to relax for about an hour. Spread a marine glue (not carpenter's glue) on the plywood, then put the vinyl down quickly. Trim the vinyl to the size of the plywood decking with a carpet knife.


  • This project involves working with power tools; the appropriate cautions should be observed.


  • The Complete Book of Boat Repair and Maintenance; D. Kendall, Doubleday, 1975
  • Jon Boat Project
  • Custom Bass/Jon Boat

About the Author

Photo Credits

  • Illustration by the Author