Boat Upholstery – a brief guide

As the summer cruising season with its busy calendar of regattas and festivals looms large for this year, the discerning boat or yacht owner’s attention may turn to the maintenance, repair and renewal of their boat upholstery. If you are a boat owner of any size or type you will need a variety of upholstered fittings for your vessel. These keep your boat at its best and well protected. Here we take a look at the type of furnishings typically needed and the materials and designs to look for.

Types of marine upholstery.

A typical boat or yacht will require a variety of types of upholstery:

Exterior fittings include cushions and seating such as captain’s seats and bench seating. Yacht interiors require cabin upholstery including a variety of mattresses and bedding areas. Many of these fittings are routinely made-to-measure for a perfect fit to your boat’s design to ensure maximum functionality.

Materials used and their qualities and benefits.

The fabric and material fittings of your vessel do not only need to be functional but also safe, comfortable, durable and stylish. You will need to consider how you use your boat, its storage and whether you have children or animals on board.

Life on the water takes its toll on all parts of a vessel and as with all outdoor upholstery, your yacht upholstery needs to be able to withstand the rigours of salt water, sun and UV. Fittings should be waterproof, durable, attractive, comfortable and of course safe (fire retardant). Stain resistance is also important as marine oils and greases, food and beverage spills need to be easily cleaned.

Marine fabrics of choice include vinyl, ultra leather, polycotton or acrylic canvas and a variety of PVC coated materials. A range of colours, textures and styles are available to suit your taste.

Marine upholstery foam is a staple for your boat’s furnishings and needs to be resilient with good density and resistance to compression. Mattresses, seating and replacement cushion inners will usually use marine foam for the best results and longevity. The types of foam typically used are polyester fibre-fill, compressed polyester, closed cell or flotation foam, open cell and polyurethane foam. Each is best suited to specific parts of your boat and your upholsterers will be able to direct you to the best choice.

Reupholstering your boat is a significant investment and careful consideration should also be given to the colour and styling of your furnishings. Exposure to sunlight whether on the water or in storage will impact the vibrancy and saturation of bold colours and is often the reason for owners shying away from unusual upholstery. Current trends favour a palette of neutrals, greys, creams and beige which add the illusion of space, especially in your vessel interior. Mixing things up with a variety of textures is also favourable and many specialist marine fabric manufacturers offer beautifully curated collections for a unique finish.

Choosing your boat upholsterers.

Marine upholstery should be undertaken by specialist upholsters with specific skill and expertise in this trade. South West Upholstery are professional marine upholsterers based in Bristol. We are well referenced with a broad portfolio of work on boats and yachts of all sizes. Both private and trade enquires are welcome. We provide a UK-wide service and can create new fittings, reupholster and undertake repairs as required. Get in touch to find out more about how we can assist you.

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