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A History of Rub Rails: From their Origins to Modern Innovations

Rub rails have been an essential part of marine vehicles for centuries, providing protection, functionality, and aesthetic appeal. In this article, we will explore the history of rub rails, from their origins to the modern innovations that have transformed them into a crucial component of boats, yachts, and other marine vessels.

What is a Rub Rail?

A rub rail is a protective strip or molding that runs along the sides of a boat or yacht's hull, typically at the point where the hull meets the deck. Rub rails serve several purposes, including:

  • Hiding the hull-to-deck joint when a boat is manufactured.

  • Protecting the hull from impact damage caused by docks, other boats, or floating debris.

  • Reducing friction between the boat and dock during mooring, which helps prevent scratches and scuffs.

  • Enhancing the overall appearance of the boat by providing a visually appealing trim or accent.

Now that we have defined what a rub rail is, let's delve into the history and evolution of these essential marine components.

Early Beginnings: The Origins of Rub Rails

The concept of rub rails dates back to the early days of sailing when wooden ships dominated the seas. Shipbuilders would install a protective wooden strip, called a rubbing strake, along the sides of the hull to shield the vessel from damage caused by impact with docks, other boats, or floating debris. This simple yet effective solution provided much-needed protection to the delicate wooden hulls of early ships, setting the stage for the evolution of rub rails as we know them today.

The Evolution of Rub Rail Materials

Over time, advances in materials science allowed shipbuilders to experiment with new materials for rub rails, resulting in improvements to their performance, durability, and appearance. Here is a brief overview of the most significant material innovations in rub rail history:


Wooden rub rails were the first iteration, providing a functional and attractive solution to protect the hulls of wooden ships. Different types of wood were used, depending on the shipbuilder's preference and availability, but teak is the most common wooden material that we see today. However, wood's vulnerability to rot, warping, and damage limited its long-term effectiveness.


With the advent of iron and steel ships, metal rub rails became more common. Metal rub rails offered increased durability and strength compared to their wooden counterparts, but they were prone to rust and corrosion. From the 1960’s to the late 90’s aluminum became very popular on sport boats but posed issues with denting and high cost for replacements. These are still popular on bass boats and pontoons today, though they usually have a vinyl insert that shields the screw heads.

Rubber and Vinyl

In the mid-20th century, rubber and vinyl rub rails emerged as an alternative to wood and metal. These flexible materials absorbed impact more effectively and offered increased longevity due to their resistance to rot, rust, and corrosion. Rubber began phasing out, as it left scuff marks on boats and vinyl quickly became the leading material. Other advantages were that it allowed for customizable colors and lengths, which got rid of seams in the rubrail. Today,vinyl rub rails are the most common type found on recreational boats and yachts.

Modern Innovations In Rub Rails

As technology continued to advance, rub rails evolved to incorporate new features and designs. Some of these modern innovations include:

Combination Rub Rails

Combination rub rails feature a flexible vinyl or rubber extrusion with a rigid PVC or aluminum core. This design combines the best of both worlds – the impact absorption of rubber or vinyl with the strength and rigidity of PVC or aluminum.

LED Lighting

Some rub rails now incorporate LED lighting systems to improve visibility, safety, and aesthetics. LED lights can be integrated into the rub rail itself or installed as a separate component that runs along the rub rail's length.

Customizable Colors and Styles

Today, rub rails are available in a wide range of colors and styles, allowing boat owners to customize the appearance of their vessels. This level of personalization not only adds an aesthetic touch but also allows boat owners to match the rub rail to the overall design and color scheme of their boat.

Integrity Marine Corp: The Best Supplier of OEM Rub Rails

For those in search of the highest quality rub rails, look no further than Integrity Marine Corp. As the leading supplier of OEM rub rails, Integrity Marine Corp offers a comprehensive range of rub rail solutions to suit any boat or yacht. With decades of experience in the marine industry, the company has earned a reputation for providing exceptional products and top-notch customer service.

Integrity Marine Corp's extensive catalog includes rub rails made from the most sophisticated materials, PVC vinyl and stainless steel. Additionally, the company offers customizable options, allowing customers to find the perfect rub rail solution for their specific needs and preferences. This commitment to quality and versatility has made Integrity Marine Corp the go-to supplier for boat owners, builders, and marine professionals alike.

Moreover, Integrity Marine Corp's expertise extends beyond rub rails, as they also offer a wide range of marine extrusions and finishing trims, including: spray rails, toe rails, awning tracks, dock bumpers, end caps, and more. This comprehensive approach ensures that customers can find everything they need to outfit and maintain their vessels in top condition.

Wrap Up!

In conclusion, rub rails have come a long way since their humble beginnings as wooden rubbing strakes on the hulls of early ships. Today, advances in materials science and technology have resulted in a diverse range of rub rail options that offer improved performance, durability, and customization. For those looking to upgrade or replace their rub rails, Integrity Marine Corp is the best choice, providing a wide selection of high-quality, OEM rub rails and marine accessories that will ensure your boat remains protected, functional, and stylish.

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