What Type of Fendering is Right For My Boat?

Marine fendering is a necessity for all boats - but which application type is right for you? You must choose fendering that meets your boat’s unique requirements. Otherwise, your boat will be susceptible to impact damage and won’t be adequately protected. Your fendering needs will be dependent on a variety of factors. 

You should consider all key factors before investing - cutting corners will only result in underperformance and inadequate protection. Plus, the need to reinvest. From the size and weight of your boat to the desired purpose of your fender, you need to make sure that you’ve covered all bases. 

In this post, we cover the different types of fendering and the considerations you must make before making a well-rounded decision. 

We’ll cover: 

  • Marine Fendering: A Quick Recap

  • The Different Types of Marine Fendering

  • The Most Popular Marine Fendering Manufacturing Materials

  • How to Choose the Right Marine Fendering Application

Marine Fendering: A Quick Recap

Marine fendering is applied to boats and docksides to preserve the condition of both. Without fendering, the boat’s hull and the dockside would be exposed to severe damage - this could result in costly repairs and time out of the water needed. Fendering cushions the impact of inevitable collisions - for example when docking or rubbing.

All boats require a level of fendering for protection. However, depending on the style and purpose, some boats need more durable protection than others. For example, tug boats are designed to push and pull vessels all day, every day. They’re exposed to larger, more frequent collisions, therefore, need to be protected adequately.

There are many types of marine fendering - each has its own purpose and are customisable to suit a wide variety of scenarios.

The Different Types of Marine Fendering

Boat fenders or wall bumpers are designed to increase protection levels and maximise the longevity of your boat. Due to large differences in boat styles and docking conditions, not all fendering can be the same. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that works with fendering.

Should you choose an unsuitable type of fendering, your boat isn’t going to be as protected as you think it is. With that in mind, when it comes to docking and rubbing against the dockside, your boat could experience impact damage. With the right fendering, you’ll be adequately protected against all inevitable collisions - no matter their severity. 

The main types of marine fendering are: 

  • Cell

  • Cone

  • Pneumatic

  • Arch

  • Pile

  • Fender Extrusions

While the majority of fendering types have key similarities, there are also vast differences. They’re all carefully designed to ensure that all impact is minimised and that the condition of your boat and the docking conditions are upheld too. For example, arch marine fendering is perfect to protect smaller boats like leisure and day yachts. 

Whereas, cone and cell fenders are designed to withstand extreme force from larger vessels like cargo tankers and ships. You need to ensure that your fendering application is suitable for the size, weight and specific mooring conditions to maximise performance.

The Most Popular Marine Fendering Manufacturing Materials

Commonly, marine fendering is manufactured from plastic, rubber and foam elastomer. Naturally, each manufacturing type has its own benefits and drawbacks. 

Plastic Marine Fendering

Plastic marine fendering is usually cheaper and predominantly used for smaller boats. Although durable, it’s not suitable to withstand the force and impact of larger vessels.

When used in the right conditions, plastic fendering is hard wearing and is gentle with the exterior of boats. Therefore, during the typical collisions of docking (or being docked), you can be confident that no marks, indentation or lasting damage will occur. 

Plus, should your fenders start to look a little worn, they’re easily replaceable. Staying on top of the condition of your fendering is paramount. Damaged and old fenders are no use at all - they’ll only increase the chances of impact damage and reduce your boat’s overall lifespan too. 

Rubber Marine Fendering

Rubber marine fendering is by far the most durable and robust manufacturing method. Even in the most extreme conditions, rubber fendering obtains high absorption rates for boats of all sizes. They’re commonly used to support and cushion the impact of larger vessels, however, they can be tailored to suit the needs of a wide range of individual boat and dock types. 

Rubber marine fendering is designed to withstand the test of time - they’re high-quality products and have a long product lifecycle (providing that they’re regularly maintained). Therefore, although they’re more expensive than alternative methods, they’re a worthy investment for individual customers and businesses to maximise their overall protection. 

Due to their longevity, rubber marine fendering is a cost-effective manufacturing method. That way, you can preserve your boat’s condition, reduce any unnecessary costs and maximise your time in the water.

rubber in action

Foam Elastomer Marine Fendering

Foam marine fendering is readily available to suit a wide range of different boat types. From workboats and rescue boats to tugboats and catamarans, it’s popular within the industry due to its well-known durability. The core of foam-based marine fendering is dense, therefore, the shock absorption and force resistance are high. 

The outer layer is non-marking and has low frictional resistance, therefore, the exterior of your boat will be protected at all times. Of course, aesthetics aren’t the highest priority for all boat owners. However, to suit those that are bothered about the appearance of their day boat or leisure yacht, foam-based fendering is commonly available in an array of colours.

How to Choose the Right Marine Fendering Application


As mentioned above, this isn’t going to be the highest priority for all. For example, tug boats are designed to constantly collide, push and pull vessels much larger than them. So, they’re not going to be bothered about pure aesthetics, they’d rather that their fendering application was as robust and durable as possible. 

However, for those with leisure yachts, they’re not going to want to stick any old fendering on the side of their stylish boat, are they? So, for those boat owners - aesthetics is a massive factor. Of course, the fendering needs to be fit for purpose as well as look good but upholding the appearance of their boat is important to them. 

Size and Weight

The size and weight of your boat will determine the level of protection you need. Quite simply, the bigger and heavier your boat is, the harder it is to stop. Therefore, the more fendering you’ll need to apply to your boat and the dockside. Plus, you’ll need to ensure it can cushion forceable impact and has a high absorption rate - that way, no damage occurs. 

Smaller boats will require fewer fendering applications around the boat to adequately protect it. Whereas, larger vessels (over 40 feet) will require much more protection. Not only do you need to get the number and type of fenders right but the positioning is key too. 

Mooring Conditions

Depending on whether you’ll be moored to the actual dockside or rafted to another boat will dictate the level of fendering that you need. Docking against a hard wall (with wall bumpers) can inflict a large amount of damage on your boat’s hull - should you not be protected properly. 

Whereas, when tied up to another boat, rubbing can wear on the hull too and cause avoidable repairs. When choosing your fendering type, you must consider common docking conditions and how you can protect yourself and cushion all impact types. 

Learn More About Marine Rubber Fendering Today!

Now that we’ve explored the different types of marine fendering and the considerations to bear in mind when choosing the right application, you should be able to make a more well-informed decision. However, we understand that finding the right fendering application can be daunting - plus, it’s not a decision that you should take lightly either. 

Cutting corners creates problems. Therefore, to extend your knowledge, we’ve created a comprehensive guide about marine rubber fendering. It explains in detail everything you need to know about the manufacturing material. From what it is (in more depth) and how it works to how it’s best used and trusted suppliers, it's all in there for you. 

So, download your FREE copy today and take the first steps to maximising the overall protection of your boat. 

However, we’re just adding the finishing touches. So, in the meantime, for answers to any of your questions and queries, please don’t hesitate to contact our expert team. We look forward to hearing from you!

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