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How To Reupholster Boat Seats


Sure, you keep your hull clean, keep the bilge smelling fresh, and keep your boat’s surfaces protected from the sun. But no matter how hard you work on your boat, none of it will quite come together unless your boat seats look new. And sometimes, that means you have no choice but to completely reupholster those boat seats. How can you make it happen in a way that’s relatively inexpensive and easy to perform without turning to an expert? Here are a few suggestions on how to reupholster boat seats the right way.

Removing The Old Seat

First, make sure you’re certain that the old seat is in need of replacing or reupholstering. In some cases, you may even need to re-do the wooden base and backer boards of the boat seat. Hopefully, this won’t be required, but when you do remove the old seat, be sure to check for rotting.

Note: sometimes, through the reupholstery process, you can be confronted with a surprise like rotted wood that means you have more work on your hands than you imagined.

In such cases, you’ll need to remove the old seat completely. Either way, you’ll need to make sure that your boat is in a safe, dry place while you work on these elements within your boat. You don’t want any rain to get into any woodwork while any elements from your boat are missing.

Use this opportunity to clean any difficult-to-reach areas on your boat as well. BoatLIFE offers a number of boat cleaning products and supplies that you can use to ensure the upholstered, difficult-to-reach areas of your boat remain clean for years to come.

Adding New Upholstery: The Basic Steps

Once you’ve successfully removed the old boat seating upholstery and cleaned it out thoroughly, it’s time to add the new upholstery. Here are the basic steps you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Get precise measurements. Working with a baseboard for your seating, you’ll want to know exactly what kind of measurements you’re dealing with so that when you apply the upholstery, you get a precise fit. Remember the phrase “measure twice, cut once”? That applies here. Professionals often turn over the base and sketch out the exact dimensions so they’re sure they have a proper fit.
  • Vinyl sewing. Some people building from scratch skip the vinyl sewing step when they get a precise match for vinyl that goes over the entire area of the seat, but you may have to do some vinyl sewing first, especially if you’re working with an awkward area and not working from scratch.
  • Foam. It’s a recommended practice to measure, mark the end with a sharpie, and then cut off the appropriate amount of foam with an electric knife. There will be some extra foam added to “oversize” and give the vinyl the appropriate “stuffed” cushion feeling. This may require some tight packing, but the end results will be worth it—so long as you didn’t leave too much foam left over.

Applying and sealing the rest of the vinyl, you’ll now have boat upholstery ready to resist the water and provide plenty of comfort for your future boating endeavors. Don’t forget to procure yourself some VinyLIFE to keep your upholstery in its current state!

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