-- Last Updated: Dec-01-12 12:24 PM EST --
My initial reaction to maintenance issues is always: Ugh! Seems like a waste of time, but maybe a process we need embrace in the path of life?
Aluminum trim, with aluminum thwarts, seat bars under plastic seats. etc is one solution: Done when purchased, with occasional cracked seat replacement and the construction issues of usually flattened shear/rocker, poor capture of the hull's top compromising hull strength, rattling, and poor hand feel, with wide temperature swings. It'll do fine under a tarp on sawhorses in the yard, if not under an eve or Hemlock likely to dump an avalanche on it. Oh, aluminum rails with wood thwarts/ seats? See below.
Wood can be slowly bent from center to miinimize shear flattening, is usually much kinder to both eye and hand, but it requires maintenance; oil or varnish/PolyU application to all surfaces including joinery, open ends and machine screw bores.
Oil is easy, but requires several repetitions a year, preferably sanded out to 400/600 grit and needs seats and thwarts be removed to dunk open/crosscut ends a couple times a year. The surfaces where decks join rail and rails meet hull are problematic.
PolyUrethane if properly applied to every edge, replaces 6X annual maintenance with a significant, once every third to half decade event; disassemble, sand, three coats sanding between, reassemble. Unless the decks and rails come off too, we still have the long term rot issue where joinery holds moisture.
Find Mike McCrea's treatis on wood protection from a couple years back, best info to date. MinWax. who'd a thunk?
Inside, dry storage is pretty universally needed for wood trimmed hulls, and in the North, that isn't enough to stop cold cracking for rubber hulls, and in the deep, Republican, South, excess humidity causes rot anyway.
My personal preference runs to integral synthetic rails with synthetic trim because I can always find something more fun to do than service a tool I acquired to service me. It's probably, yet another, personality flaw and while synthetics can be artistically interesting they'll never rival wood for natural beauty.