How to Redo Boat Seats

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The sun, weather and exposure to water takes a toll on your boat's seating and seat covers. If your boat seats have become faded, worn or torn in places, you can redo the seats to add years of useful life to the seats and value to your boat. One manual for professional mariners suggests using old canvas that needs replacement as a template or pattern for cutting new canvas. When the sunlight and the weather finally have their way with your boat's seats, you can reupholster using that same principle.

Take one seat out of the boat at a time. The seats should pull out easily. Flip the seat over and pry the staples out of the bottom of the plywood seat base with a screwdriver.

Turn the new seat cover material so its inner surface faces up. Lay the old seat cover face down on top of the new seat material. Outline the old cover onto the inner surface of the new material with the chalk. The old cover becomes a pattern for the new.

Cut the new seat cover out of the new material using sharp scissors. Wrap the new seat cover around the foam seat cushion. Staple one edge of the new cover to the plywood and pull the opposite edge to tighten up the cover. With the cover tight, staple the opposite edge. Repeat this step for the other two edges, until the new cover is stapled into place.

Return the newly covered seat to the boat and remove the next one to be re-covered. Repeat the process until all seats have new covers.


  • If the new material is vinyl, unroll the vinyl in the sunlight. The sun's warmth heats the vinyl enough to allow it to relax from being rolled and to lay flat, the optimum condition for cutting and installation.
  • When you cut the new cover, retain the old cover until the new is stapled in in place. Then, dispose of the old cover to avoid confusion.


  • "The American Merchant Seaman's Manual"; W. Hayler; 1981

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.

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