A Quick Guide to Boat Hull Shapes

All boat hulls can either ride on top of the water or displace it while traveling. However, this doesn’t mean there are only two boat hull shapes! When buying a boat, you can consider many different shapes that all have their own advantages. 

Most Common Types of Hulls

Different hull shapes determine the amount of available storage on board, the way the boat handles the water and the boat’s speed and stability. Below are the most common hull shapes and how they affect performance.

Displacement Hulls

A displacement hull is any hull that displaces water. These include large ships, like cruise ships, as well as sailboats. Boats with displacement hulls are slow but steady while moving and can carry a lot of weight.

Round-Bottom Hulls

Hulls with a round bottom are a type of displacement hull. They are designed to roll with the waves. Canoes have round-bottom hulls, as do most sailboats. They move smoothly through the water but are not very steady and can roll over. 

Semi-Displacement Hulls

A semi-displacement hull has both round and flat sections. The round sections allow for additional storage while the flat areas raise the boat’s bow out of the water, reducing drag at higher speeds. Some cruising motor yachts have hulls like this, and they typically require a high-power engine. This type of hull gives the boat the advantages of both a displacement and planing hull.

Flat-Bottom Hulls

A flat-bottom hull is a type of planing hull, which means it can glide on top of the water. Water vessels with this boat hull design are very stable and only need a small engine to start planing. However, they are very rough in inclement weather and choppy waves — they are best for calm waters like lakes.

V-Bottom Hulls

V-shaped hulls are also planing hulls. They are typical among powerboats, as they allow the boat to reach high speeds and plane on the water while remaining steady in choppy conditions. The deeper the V shape, the better the boat can handle rough water.


Pontoon boats ride on long buoyant tubes that usually consist of aluminum. This boat hull shape maximizes the available deck space, but these watercraft tend to operate at low speeds on calm water. 

EZ Dock Boat Docks Can Make Docking Any Watercraft Easy

You can dock any boat easily by using our dock sections EZ BoatPort® to create the best layout — whether for recreational or business purposes. Our floating docks are durable, slip-resistant and modular, and they require little to no maintenance. 

EZ Dock dock sections can even be reconfigured and expanded at any time so your dock will always be right for your boat. Request a quote online for details on the products you’re interested in. Not sure what is best for you? Our dock experts can help you find a configuration that fits your needs and budget.

For more information on boat and dock configurations and other watercraft guides, check out our blog.