How to Remove Boat Seats for Reupholstering

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Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Adjustable wrench


  • If you're doing your own reupholstery, treat each seat as an independent project. Remove one seat, reupholster it and return the completed seat to the boat. This avoids confusion should you have to stop in the middle of a single seat: there's no question about what cover goes with which seat, or where you were on a specific seat.

    If all else fails, pull the seat cushion out. You're reupholstering. The old cover serves as the pattern for the new and you'll replace the snaps, clips or strips of hook-and-loop fastener and, perhaps, the foam, as part of the process. This means that the slight amount of damage resulting from ripping the cushion away from the seat is acceptable.

When your boat seats need new upholstery, you have a choice: do it yourself or hire it done. Whether you're doing the work yourself or contracting it out to a professional upholsterer, you have to remove the seats from your boat before the work can progress. Regardless of the type of seat, there are only five ways a boat's seat is held in place and most of the time, removal of boat seats for reupholstering is no more complicated than turning a screwdriver.

Pedestal Seats

    Kneel down so you can see the bottom of the seat.

    Tell your assistant to hold the seat steady so that it neither moves nor falls on you. Remove the screws or bolts that hold the bottom of the seat to the swivel attachment at the top of the pedestal.

    Stand up and lift the seat away from the pedestal. The seat's now ready for transportation to the upholsterer or to your workshop, should you plan to do the work yourself.

All Other Types of Seats

    Lift the bottom seat cushion and look at its edges: the seat covers may be slip-ons with a zipper or other kind of closure. If so, pull the foam cushion out of the cover and send the seat cover to the upholsterer or set it aside to take to your own workshop. Set the foam cushion back in place.

    Pull on the back cushion of the seat, in case the back cushion is mounted with hook-and-loop fasteners. If so, pull the bottom cushion up as well; if the back uses hook-and-loop fasteners, the bottom rarely uses any other kind.

    Lift the bottom edge of the back cushion, if you don't hear the characteristic sound of a hook-and-loop fastener, look under it for the for snaps or clips that hold it in place. Unsnap them or unclip them and send the back cushion on its way.

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