It happens to all of us. After years of use, our boat upholstery starts to look old and worn out. UV rays, suntan lotion, spilled drinks, and lots of use takes a toll on your boat vinyl.
Marine vinyl is amazing stuff. It looks good for many years even though it has to endure some of the harshest conditions imaginable. But eventually, it does wear out. And when it does, it sure makes your boat look bad.
If it is time to replace your boat upholstery you have come to the right place. I’ve put together this list of sources to help you have boat upholstery you can be proud of once again.
Local Boat Upholstery Shops
The best way to replace your boat upholstery is through a good local marine upholstery shop. Go to your favorite search engine and type in ‘boat upholstery near me’. Look for a shop with a good rating and talk with other boaters about their experience with these shops.
Most local shops will come out to your boat and give you a free estimate. Ask lots of questions like who will remove the upholstery from the boat, if they do custom work, and if they use marine grade vinyl and thread. There is a difference. Marine grade vinyl and thread is UV resistant.
If you can’t find a good local shop, their prices are too high, or you want to save money by doing most of the work yourself, then go to the list below.
The first three companies are custom boat upholstery shops. With each, you remove the upholstery form your boat and ship it to them. They use your old skins as templates so everything fits properly when you get it back. All three use the highest quality materials available and will do custom work.
Next, on the list are two places to shop for marine vinyl and woven fabrics and one to buy marine grade foam. Vinyl might be your best choice, but it’s not your only choice for boat upholstery. Vinyl is waterproof, woven fabrics are not. Woven fabrics give you a huge choice in textures, colors, and patterns that you can’t get with vinyl. However, woven fabrics have to be paired with different foams than vinyl. I give a brief overview of the different types of foam at the bottom.
Custom Boat Upholstery Shops
If you have the skills or desire to Do It Yourself, but not the skills or equipment to sew it yourself than Copycat Upholstery is just what you are looking for.
The process starts by getting a quote from them through their website.
- Upload pictures and measurements to their website of the seating you need to be replaced. They will review it and send you a quote.
- If you are happy with the quote, remove the seat skins, mark what parts go together, write your name and number on each piece, then ship everything to them. A 50% deposit is required.
- They use your old seat skins as templates to make your new seat skins. They sew the pieces together and ship them back to you.
Lost Factory Patterns
Lost Factory Patterns will re-build your entire seat or make new seat skins for you. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of these options.
First, you have to remove each seat, bench cushion, bench seat back, sun pad, or anything else you plan on having re-upholstered. The cost/time spent doing this is the same for both options.
Having LFP Do The Work
If you are having Lost Factory Patterns re-build all of your seats and cushions, package everything together and ship it to them. Once Lost Factory Patterns re-upholsters everything they will ship it back to you. Re-install everything on your boat and you are good to go.
The advantage of doing things this way is that it is less work for you.
The disadvantage of doing things this way is cost. The cost to have them do the extra work and the cost of shipping.
You Do The Work
If you are going to send Lost Factory Patterns only the seat skins, you first have to remove the skins from their backing. The vinyl skin material is held to the backing with staples. Remove the staples, remove the skins, then ship the skins to LFP.
LFP will make your new skins and ship them back to you. You then have to put the skins back onto their seats and cushions and staple everything back into place.
The advantage of doing things this way is that you save money in shipping and labor costs.
The disadvantage of doing things this way is that removing the staples is time-consuming. It can also be difficult to get the skins off and back on the seats and cushions.
American Marine Coverings
American Marine Coverings is another company that will make new seat skins based on the originals from your boat. Call American Marine Upholstery or contact them through the form on their website for a quote.
As with Copycats and Lost Factory Patterns above, you have to remove all of the seat skins and ship them to American Marine Coverings. They will use your old seat skins as a template to make your new seat skins then ship everything back to you.
Boat Upholstery Fabrics
This is an online fabric shop that offers over 120 different colors, textures, and patterns of marine vinyl and fabric.
Vinyl is waterproof so it is the most popular choice for boat upholstery. Sunbrella offers a huge selection of marine fabrics that come in a wide variety of styles, textures, colors, and patterns. The drawback is that these are woven fabrics that are not waterproof. As a result, they require a different type of foam cushioning than that used for vinyl covered seats.
Boat Seat Foam
Types of Marine Foam
Medium Density Polyurethane Antimicrobial Foam- Best for powerboats and pontoon boats with vinyl covered exterior seats. This type of foam soaks up water so it is a poor choice for woven fabrics. However, vinyl protects the foam from water.
Closed Cell Foam- Best for liveaboard and frequently used sailboats. This high-density foam won’t soak up water and will stand up to daily use. Won’t be harmed by water so it can be covered in woven or vinyl marine fabric. Another good thing is it can be used as a flotation device.
Dry Fast Foam- Best for sailboats used on weekends or only occasionally. Water runs right through Dry Fast foam so it should be used with breathable woven fabrics. It also comes in two firmness, medium, and firm.
I hope you found this post useful. If you did please share it with other boaters on your favorite social media website.