Marine upholstery is different from regular trim work in one important way. The upholstery material used must be specifically made to handle the elements. Sun exposure and rain can do a lot of damage to regular vinyl in a very short amount of time.
Marine Upholstery Vinyl
When you’re recovering your boat seats use marine upholstery vinyl. It is made to withstand the elements and holds up to UV and extensive sun exposure with minimal color fastness. Marine upholstery is also mildew resistant and sulfide stain resistant to hold up to moisture without affecting the integrity of the fabric.
If your marine upholstery will be a DIY project ALWAYS make sure you are using marine upholstery vinyl.
Marine Grade Foam Rubber
Choose foam with an open cell foam design for maximum drainage and enhanced air circulation to allow the foam to dry fast before it has time to produce mold and mildew. Some foam comes treated with anti-microbial agents that resist the growth of bacteria and mold, check with your supplier for these options.
Non Marine Grade Foam
If your re using the existing foam for your marine seats and don’t know if the foam is marine grade or cannot find marine grade foam there is only so much that can be done to keep water from getting into the foam but here are a few things you might try to reduce the risk of mold and mildew getting into your marine upholstery.
- Wrap the foam in plastic before covering it. This will act as a barrier between water and the foam cushions.
- Heat sealing the vinyl is a good option but the equipment is expensive and not everyone may want to invest in something like this, especially if this is a diy project.
- Liquid sealing the vinyl is a less expensive option, and may add some additional protection against water damage. This video explains a little more about this process.
4. Using a single top stitch will also help form a barrier because the material is folded to one side rather than laying it flat against the foam. If you have a large amount of water, this is not fool proof but it does help because the fold over provides an additional layer of fabric at the seam.
5. Always use your boat cover during storms and rainy weather
6. If possible, try to avoid multi fabric designs on the horizontal surfaces and bottom cushions to reduce the chance of water seeping through the sewn fabric.
Pre Made Boat Seats
You can buy pre made boat seats for your boats make and model for a comparable price as having a shop make and install them for you. However, if you want a custom job or you can’t find pre manufactured boat seats you will have to do it yourself or have an upholstery shop do it for you.
Check the internet for information and pricing for pre-fabricated seats for your particular make and model of boat. You may save yourself a lot of time by just ordering the seats pre made and installing them. Just make sure the company you are buying from is reputable and sells good quality seats.