Ultimate Guide to Narrowboat Doors

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Welcome back to Canal Boat UK! Today I am looking at the subject of narrowboat doors. Which doors are best and what to do if you don’t like your current doors?? Doors are an important part of any narrowboat, and you would be surprised at the amount of agonising that owners go through trying to work out how to do them well. Hopefully, we can make this whoe process a little smoother 🙂

What is the Best Material for Narrowboat Doors?

You basically have three options, each with their own good and bad points….


Most narrowboats come with steel doors as standard. These doors are incredibly secure and long lasting. The problem is that a lot of them don’t have any windows to let in light. Although when onboard a lot of people just leave them open in the daytime to get the light in.

What to do if you don’t like your steel doors?

Well , the main reason for this is usually the fact that they don’t have any windows in. People like light and airy narrowboats after all 🙂 Most people seem to like to rip out their steel doors and replace with one of the options below. Too be honest, I don’t see the point of this if you have good condition steel doors already.

Simply use an angle grinder (and a jigsaw for the tight bits) to cut the holes you need in your current steel doors and pop windows into those. Much cheaper and easier than buying whole new doors. And you will steel have the security of steel doors 🙂

If you are nervous about setting to your steel doors with an angle grinder, you could get someone else more confident to do this. The best way is to network amongst the narrowboat community and find someone that knows what they are doing with DIY.

Whether you are cruising the canals or in a marina you will have lots of narrowboaters around you. Make friends, chat and in no time you will have found someone willing to help. And often they don’t ask for payment, just another favour back in return!


A lot of people like the look of wooden doors, and they are easy to make with windows if you do want extra light in your boat. The major problem with wooden doors is that they can rot and degrade over time, as well as the fact that they are much easier for a thief to crowbar and get access to your pride and joy.

Add to this the fact that wooden doors will expand and contract at a different rate to the steel of your narrowboat, possibly leading to sticking doors in winter (very annoying) and rattling doors when the weather is warmer. Although wooden doors are popular, you can see I am not a massive fan of them on narrowboats 🙂

I am not going to include any recommendations for wooden doors here, as the best way to get them made is to go to a timber merchant and ask them to recommend a good carpenter to you. This is how you can get well made wooden doors to fit the exact requirements of your boat. Often, when you go for big companies that do the same you will be asked to wait up to 4-6 months for your order. Not ideal!


uPVC has been popular amongst home owners for their window and door needs for many years. Believe it or not, you can get them made for narrowboats too. Personally, I hate the look of uPVC, especially on a classic looking narrowboat. Although modern techniques are starting to allow realistic faux wood patterns to be put on the uPVC to soften the look.

uPVC doors are also on the cheaper side when compared to the other two options, and they usually offer higher security than wooden doors.

Below are some examples that are on Ebay at the time of writing, click the image to go and view them for yourself.

What Narrowboat Doors Would I Go For?

Without a doubt I would always stick with steel doors for my narrowboat. They are strong, secure and have the ability to add windows if needed. Why fix something that has been used for hundreds of years and is clearly not broken 🙂

What narrowboat or canal boat doors do you like? Leave a comment below to let us know all your door experiences and secrets 🙂

4 thoughts on “Ultimate Guide to Narrowboat Doors”

  1. Hi I’m new to narrowboats, and a bit clueluess, but is that a widebeam or a standard narrowboat in the first pic because I can’t seem to tell

  2. I have 30 foot springer narrow boat and I’m really, REALLY struggling with the planing of my layout.
    I have maximum skills with wood and a brother who has maximum skills with welding and fabrication but min budget as I spent life savings on narrow boat.
    Please PLEASE send me any links to space-saving ideas and living space on 30 foot narrow beam boat.

    Desperately seeking solutions


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