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March 9, 2021

What is a Rub Rail Insert and Why is it Important?

What is a Rub Rail Insert and Why is it Important?

In today’s quick tip, we are going to discuss what a rub rail insert is and why it is important for your boat.

Think of rub rails as a bumper to an automobile. These protective barriers are designed to absorb shock of minor impacts and to protect the chassis (in the case of a watercraft – the hull). Boats inevitably bump docks and pilings, so to add further protection manufacturers designed a sacrificial insert strip intended to take the brunt of the impact. This is called a rub rail insert.

Rub rail inserts are designed to slide into a channel along the center of a boat’s rub rail. Most rub rail inserts on the market are made of vinyl or flexible PVC. The ones we make here at Steele are made of EPDM rubber (that’s important, but we’ll get back to that). Whatever the insert is made of, they all are designed to protect your rub rail (and the rest of your boat) from damage during a minor impact. Rub rail inserts also serve as an aesthetic addition to your boat – covering up screws and hiding seams.

When damaged, worn, or cracked, rub rail inserts can be replaced.

Here at Steele Rubber Products, we offer a variety of rub rail insert replacement and repair kits. These kits are made of marine grade EPDM rubber. EPDM Rubber provides excellent UV and Ozone resistance which means that our rub rail inserts will outlast the other products on the market. One of the biggest complaints about replacing rub rail inserts is that the vinyl and PVC inserts must be heated to become pliable enough to work with. This makes it difficult for someone to replace their rub rail insert. The advantage of choosing EPDM over vinyl or PVC rub rail inserts is that they are easy to install – no pre-heating of the insert is required. Additionally, EPDM rubber does not shrink like vinyl. While all materials see some shrinking and expanding with time and temperature, vinyl can shrink as much as 10% over its life. That means a 20ft vessel could see a loss of 2ft over time (on each side). This is where those unsightly gaps come from.

When you order a rub rail insert replacement kit, you will have a variety of profiles to choose from to fit your unique needs. And don’t worry – with us you only have to order what you need. We don’t require minimums to order from us. Included in your replacement kit is an instruction sheet and a tuck tool. That’s how easy it is to replace!

What if you don’t need to replace the whole insert? No problem. We offer repair kits too. Repair kits come in the same popular profiles that our replacement kits come in. In these kits you will receive a pre-cut length of the seal of your choosing, a tuck tool, an instruction sheet, and Loctite Superbonder 495. The reason Loctite is included in this kit is to provide additional seamless support when you apply your new seal.

When you purchase a rub rail insert (or any other rubber parts) from Steele Rubber Products, you are covered under our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Additionally, you have access to our Product Specialists and other knowledgeable weatherstripping pros that are here to help answer any questions you may have about our products.

If you need help finding the right rub rail insert for your project, or need help installing your rub rail insert, assistance is available with one of our Product Specialists over the phone (800-230-6752) and on Live Chat.


Not sure where to start with your project? Order a FREE Catalog today!

*For additional help check out our How To series on YouTube!

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