How to Choose Cabinet Hardware for a Marine Vessel

Anyone that has worked in the marine industry, knows that marine cabinet hardware can take quite a beating. In other words, cabinet hardware that you’d use in regular on-shore conditions cannot be applied to a marine vessel. With that being said, if you’re equipping any type of marine vessel, it’s important to install hardware that can withstand water, salt, rugged weather and anything the ocean might send its way. So, when looking for locks, hinges and other marine hardware, here are some important factors to consider.


Just go through a well-stocked industrial hardware supplies store and you’ll be met with marine hardware made from a variety of materials. Stainless steel, die-cast zinc, brass alloys, etc – the options in front of you can seem overwhelming. In general, brass alloys are considered most suitable for underwater use as the material prevents submerged hardware from wearing away in salty and high-pressure conditions.

Stainless steel, on the other hand, is often preferred for above-water hardware that will be in plain sight due to its shiny and attractive appearance. Additionally, stainless steel is also resistant to sun damage and corrosion from salt water. Then, there’s also die-cast zinc which can withstand high temperatures, making it ideal for cabinet hardware that’s close to motorized equipment. What’s more, hardware made of die-cast zinc can come in a variety of finishes which can complement exterior components.


Padlocks are one of the most common types of hardware found in marine vessels. With that being said, often the most convenient choice is to use keyed alike padlocks that will allow you to use all the lockers in the cockpit, dock box and companionways with the same key. This way, you don’t have to worry about keeping dozens of different keys which can be confusing to use. Additionally, it’s also common for boats by the same owner and sharing a slip to use keyed alike padlocks.


When it comes to choosing hinges, stores specializing in industrial hardware supplies for marine applications often offer three types: piano hinges, take-apart hinges, and offset hinges. Piano hinges are suitable for tables, hatches, dock boxes and any other case where two different surfaces meet. On the other hand, if two items need to be disconnected easily, take-apart hinges are the most suitable choice. These hinges are commonly used on companionway ladders that need to be completely removed or swing up. And finally, there are also offset hinges which have one side that’s larger than the other, with a right angle built-in. This way, when the hinge is opened wide, it doesn’t bind on itself because the two sides are not flush with each other.