Cut Your Vinyl And Foam
Now its time to put your shears to work. Using your original seat covers as templates, trace the patterns on your new vinyl, and cut the pieces to match.
Cutting foam can be a bit tricky, since its three-dimensional. Start large, and trim more if needed. Remember, you can always shave more foam off, but you cant stick two cut pieces back together. For very thick foam, shears may not be up to the task in that case, you can use an electric carving knife.
Measuring The Foam And Vinyl
Without the right measurement, you wont be able to obtain a successful result. So dont throw the previous vinyl and cover as you need them for correct sizing. This means carefully removing them, and you have to take out staples that are found under the seats.
While removing the cover, you can study how you can fix it on the seat. First-timers should be especially observant with this part. After getting the old vinyl, let it spread flatly as a basis for measurement. Do the same thing with the foam if it needs to be replaced.
How Much Does It Cost To Reupholster Seats
More than just how to recover boat seats, most boaters ask how much the repair will cost. Well, that depends on whether you want to get it done professionally, or if you decide to tackle the job on your own. For a DIY reupholster and repair job, here’s what you might expect to pay:
- Vinyl – starts at around $18 per yard, depending on the color and thickness
- Foam – prices vary widely, but average roughly $40 or a 74″ x 24″ x 2″ piece
- Staple gun – between $30 to $40, but you can get them cheaper if you’re buying second hand or for absolutely free if you have a friend who will let you borrow
- Industrial sewing machine – roughly $800, but you won’t really need one if you plan to finish the job without the need to sew
Another thing that can affect the amount of money you use for your DIY boat seat reupholstering job is the number of boat seats on your vessel. The size of each individual boat seat will also make a difference in the final cost.
According to posts from boaters in boating forums, a DIY reupholster job would cost around $300 on average. Of course, that also entails that you know how to reupholster boat seats, and that you have enough patience and time for the process.
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Inspect The Existing Seat
Most boat seats are covered with vinyl for water resistance, and these covers are the most noticeable parts to replace. That said, you might also need to replace other components.
For example, wet foam can degrade over time. Worse, foam can get moldy, creating a health hazard and may trigger allergies. In cases of extreme deterioration, underlying wooden parts can even begin to rot.
If you blindly replace a vinyl cover without addressing these underlying issues, you wont solve the problem. You will simply accomplish a short-term cosmetic fix.
Using a staple remover or a screwdriver, remove all the covers from the seats, and inspect the underlying materials. Make a note of any damaged foam or wood and add those parts to your shopping list. For our purposes, we will assume that you are replacing only the covers and that the underlying foam and wood structure are intact.
Needless to say, this is best done under a roof. Since reupholstering is a lengthy process, you will need to be careful not to get caught in the rain. If you are on the water or parked outside on a trailer, put a cover over any exposed foam.
Pay Someone Else To Do It
It can take a certain level of patience and skill to do boat upholstery repair or replacement yourself. Theres no shame in paying someone else to do it if youre short of time or the necessary skills. However, when you talk with various upholstery installers, make sure that theyve worked on boats. Its very different upholstering a car seat or couch compared with a boat.
If youve never done a boat upholstery project or any type of upholstery project, you may want to shadow a specialist and help out on a few projects before attempting to replace the fabric on your own boat. Alternatively, have an experienced buddy help you out .
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Cut Up Your New Vinyl And Foam
Now you’re going to want to cut the new upholstery. But since it should be the same size as the previous foam and vinyl that was used to cover your boat seats, you have to make sure you’re making precise measurements.
Lay the old vinyl sheet over the new one and trace the outlines with your marker, tailor’s chalk, or pencil. Do the same with the foam cushions. Then take your precision knife and very carefully trace the lines for an exact cut. Do not cut back on the size of the overlap that folds over unseen parts of the seats thinking they’re not that important. The overlap is necessary to make sure that the new cover stays in place after the repair.
Keep in mind though that some owners leave the old foam in place. Replacing the old cushions really depends on the status of the old stuff. As you repair and reupholster your seat, check to see if you need to spend on new cushions or if you can do without replacing the old stuff.
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Tips For Reupholstering Your Boats Seats
#1: Color tone and shade choice
Most boat seats tend to come in lighter colors, and theres a good reason for that they arent as hot when you sit on them!
Dark colors will absorb heat so stick to lighter colors as the main color shade, possibly just keeping any darks for the secondary tone in strips and panels.
#2: Grooves, raised patterns, and seams
Try to avoid deep grooves in the vinyl seats as it can tear over time. If you can, have them reinforce the seams to help with tearing.
With deeper grooves and pleats you will find it harder to keep the mold, mildew, and dirt out. It will make cleaning a lot harder .
#3: What if the wood is rotten?
Earlier I mentioned that the foam aspect of boat seat reupholstering is optional, depending on the state of the foam. In really bad cases, you might get a nasty surprise when you take the seats up and apart as the wood could have rotted through.
Ive never had to replace the wood before myself, but if it is in bad shape, dont even think about putting new foam and vinyl over it as the damp trapped inside will ruin your new project over time.
You will have to completely remove the seat and replace the wood.
#4: Will you get better results if you sew instead of staple?
Having never sewed, I cant give you my personal opinion, but I do know it will take longer. The results and seams can be replicated better, but for most pontoon owners, you might not want to go that far.
#5: UV and weather resistance
#6: Cleaning your new seats
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Application Of Vinyl Protectant
After you accomplished stapling the cover, you can now see new seats! However, youll need to do a little task to wrap things up. It applies vinyl protectants to counter damaging UV rays, premature aging, and cracks. Also, it instills a long-lasting shine on the cover.
There are a lot of vinyl protectants offered in the market, but so far, 303 Marine UV Protectant Spray for Vinyl, Star Brite Ultimate Vinyl Guard Protectant, and Better Boat New Waterproofing Spray have proven their worth to most boaters.
Cut Vinyl And Foam Using Your Measurements
Using your measurements, cut the necessary amount of vinyl and foam.
When cutting the vinyl, you may place the old vinyl cover on top of the new sheet and make a trace around it with your marking pencil. Then, cut a vinyl piece of required size and shape.
With foam, you may cut a little bit more to impart the seat a cushier feel. But do not overdo it if you take too much foam, you may struggle with stuffing it into the seat.
If your foam is very thick, scissors may not be able to cut it. Use an electric knife instead.
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Our Boat Seat Repair Kit Suggestions
Capable of making your vinyl seat look like new, fabric repair kits can do wonders.
Now, if you have a serious tear, then you may not be able to fully restore your boat seats. But with repair kits, you at least get the chance to bring your boat vinyl seat back to its former luster.
Typically, a vinyl repair kit includes the following supplies:
- Backing fabric to cover the tear.
- Repair compound as an adhesive for the backing fabric. Usually, the repair compound is colored to help you match the appearance of the patch to your vinyl seat.
- Color mixing guide, if there are several colors of repair compound included.
- Tools to help you with mixing and applying the compound to your vinyl fabric.
And here are our 3 boat upholstery kit suggestions to help you get started with your seat repair project.
How Much Does It Cost To Reupholster Boat Seats
This depends on whether you want to do it yourself, pay an upholstery shop, or complete replace the seats from new.
#1: Typical costs for reupholstering yourself
I always look at DIY projects like this not just from a cost perspective of the materials, but also how much time it will take, and how well you can do the job to a high enough standard.
- The vinyl materials can cost around $20 a yard
- An electric staple gun can cost $30 to $50 if you can do it without sewing
- An industrial sewing machine can cost up to $800 for a proper job
- Foam padding costs unknown as will vary wildly
Heres what a person on Facebook said about reupholstering their pontoon boats seats themselves:
It cost us less than $300. We used some upgraded materials for the backs, a stapler, and then had some different colors and styles for the seat accents.
#2: Typical costs for paying an upholstery shop
If you dont have the skills and equipment, it will be far easier to pay an upholstery shop to reupholster your pontoon boat seats.
However, prices will vary wildly depending on where you are and how many seats and cushions you need replacing and reupholstered. It can be very expensive to use a specialist reupholster shop, it can even sometimes cost more than buying new seats altogether.
For example, a buddy recently paid $450 to get just two cushioned recovered in marine vinyl, so cant imagine what his local upholsterer would have charged to do the whole boat.
I also found someone on Facebook saying:
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Use A Heat Gun Where Necessary
If you’ve got curved seats, then it might be tough to get that polished look when reupholstering with stiff new boat vinyl. So for irregular edges and shapes, you can use a heat gun to make your vinyl sheet more pliable. Staple the edges into place and leave the irregular areas free. Then heat them up with your heat gun to make them easier to mold into place.
Once you’ve got clean folds and a quality look, you can secure the overlap underneath the base. Do this for all irregularly shaped areas so you can achieve a more reupholstering job.
How Can I Save Money
Prior to committing to an upholsterer, do some research on different fabric providers. According to most specialists, the costs for exterior materials utilized for marine applications only differ by a couple of dollars per yard, contrary to what a lot of upholsterers say to their customers. As soon as you have actually done some research, look for a family-owned upholstery store that does custom-made work. This is a great tip since family-owned shops are known to have significantly lower rates than commercial upholsterers.
Dont just go for the very first price quote you get. When employing any expert, try to get as many quotes as possible to see what sort of rate difference youre dealing with.
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Is Boat Upholstery Worth It
Upholstery brings new life to your boat. It is recommended to go for new upholstery instead of restoring an old one. New upholstery brings variety in materials, designs, effects to your boat. Multi-colored covers, though, slightly adds to the increase of cost but fairly looks better.
Likewise, if you count for upholstery your hood-top, interior and body paint along with seats, it certainly increases the cost. The professionals doing upholstery gives estimated to cost only after assessing the entire work. The upholstery work takes days or weeks depending on the workload.
Foam Or Automotive Headliner
Some parts of your seat upholstery will have foam underneath the vinyl cover. This adds both comfort and shape to the whole piece. You can replace old foam with new ones, or with automotive headliner which tends to be cheaper.
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Gather The Necessary Supplies And Tools
After getting the correct measurement, its time for you to start gathering the necessary supplies and tools. Due to the knowledge of the size of your boat seats, you have an idea of how much material you need. You make a list of them just like this:
- Look for UV-resistant material or marine vinyl, just like the creations of ViVViD, Ottertex, Plastex, and ViSTA Vinyl. There are various colors that you can choose from. The regular vinyl is not recommended as it can easily break down when exposed to sunlight and moisture.
- When the necessity calls for it, pick the right piece of wood and foam. You can avail various sizes and take advantage of the quality of AK Trading Upholstery Foam and Milliard Upholstery Foam.
- Staple gun or carpet tacker
- Sewing scissors
When you have all these things, it means you can begin working on your marine upholstery project. You may want to buy extra materials in case you make some mistakes as you work.
Its better to have excess materials to not waste time and entertain interruptions. You could not have gotten the exact size of your seat, and youll find it out during installation. If you still have materials, you can make corrections right away. Budget-conscious individuals can avoid such predicament by being extra careful of getting the measurement.
If All Else Fails Hire A Professional
As you can see, reupholstering boat seats is well within the realm of most peoples capabilities. It should also be apparent that its an involved project that can take many hours of work, particularly if you have several seats to upholster.
Hiring a professional is one way to simplify the process. Yes, you will need to pay for their service, but you wont have to do all the work yourself. Make sure the person you hire is experienced with boats, though. If they are not familiar with marine work, they may not have the proper expertise for the job.
Another option is to ask a friend for help. If you know someone whos already an upholstery enthusiast, partner up and see what you can accomplish. Just make sure to offer them a free boat ride as a thank you!
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