How to Make Vinyl Covered Interior Boat Panels

by Will Charpentier

Vinyl panels for the interior of your boat will add eye appeal and provide you with a tough wall surface. They work well to cover up the dings and smudges that grace the interior walls of any boat after a season of hard use. They also provide the walls with good protection from the elements and other sources of damage. Best of all, they can be removed for cleaning and are easily repaired or replaced if they become damaged.

Remove all furniture and trim attached to the bulkhead by pulling nails with the claw hammer, then prying and unscrewing with the screwdriver. Use the stud finder to locate wall studs under existing paneling or note the location of nails or screws holding the existing paneling in place. Mark the location of the studs on the overhead of the cabin by making a small mark with the china marker.

Cut the plywood panels to fit using the circular saw. Use the full width of the plywood as often as possible; if there is an odd width piece, make that the piece on the starboard side, on the back wall of the cabin. Use the jigsaw to cut out openings in the plywood for windows, power outlets or other fixtures that cannot be covered by the vinyl panels.

Notch the Corners to Insure Good Coverage

Trim the vinyl sheeting by laying the plywood on it, face (the part of the panel that will face into the room) down. Mark the vinyl with the china marker so that the vinyl, when cut, will be 1/4 inch larger than the plywood to which it will be attached. This allows you to turn the edges of the vinyl over the edges of the plywood panel. Notch the square corners of the vinyl so that there is no overlap.

Mix the epoxy and apply a thin coat to the face of the plywood. Position the vinyl and use the paint roller to roll the vinyl flat onto the plywood. Apply the epoxy to the edges of the plywood and wrap the vinyl over the edges.

Set the panels in place. Using the marks you made on the overhead of the cabin as a guide to locate the wall studs, mark the vinyl panels with the carpenter's chalk line to show where the studs are located. Beginning at the after-most part of the cabin's port wall, hold the panels tight to the wall and, starting from the top and working to the bottom of each chalk line, put a screw through the vinyl/plywood panel into the wall stud. Cap the screws with screw caps.

Items you will need

  • Vinyl sheeting
  • Marine plywood, 1/4 inch thick
  • Stud finder
  • Screwdriver
  • China marker
  • Claw hammer
  • Decorative screw covers
  • Screws
  • 3M DP 190 epoxy
  • 3-inch paint scraper
  • Paint roller and frame
  • Carpenter's chalk line
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw

Tip

  • When gluing the vinyl into place, use a very short-nap paint roller to smooth it and work air bubbles from beneath it.

Warning

  • Vinyl gives off toxic smoke when burning.

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.