How to Repair the Vinyl on a Boat Seat

••• heavy duty stapler image by Christopher Dodge from Fotolia.com

The vinyl seats on your boats are one of the first things anyone sees when they come aboard; and if they're in poor condition, they make a bad impression. There's a "trick" to redoing the vinyl on your boat seats that makes it fit perfectly. Redoing the vinyl on a boat seat might look like a daunting project at first glance, but by doing it one seat at a time and using "the trick," it becomes just another maintenance task.

Unroll the vinyl you've purchased for the replacement seat covers and lay it out in the sun for about 20 minutes. This will make it more pliable and less likely to deform once it's in place on the seat cushions.

Remove the vinyl covering--very carefully--from the first seat. Usually, seat covers are stapled to a thin sheet of plywood that forms their base. Slip a screwdriver under the staple and pull the staple out without damaging the vinyl; you'll have a use for it later.

Use the "trick:" lay the vinyl seat cover you just removed onto the new vinyl. Use the old seat cover as the pattern for the new seat cover. Trace around the vinyl with a pencil or grease pencil, i.e., something that can be washed away later.

Use a pair of heavy scissors to cut the vinyl along the pattern lines. When you've finished cutting, lay the new vinyl on the seat cushion and fold the edges down to check the fit. Since you used the old seat cover for a pattern, the fit should be perfect.

Staple one side of the new seat cover in place under the bottom of the plywood seat base. Pull the vinyl down on the opposite side and staple it under the bottom of the seat base with a staple gun. Tuck any loose vinyl on the corners under the back of the seat cover, pull down the back and staple it into place. Tuck the front corners and repeat the process on the front.

Repeat the process for all seats, one at a time.


  • Most fabric stores that carry vinyl will carry marine vinyl, a special type of vinyl that doesn't crack or wear as easily. Marine vinyl also doesn't break down when exposed to UV radiation from the sun, a quality missing from regular vinyl.


  • "Good Boatkeeping;" Z. Aiken; 2005

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.

Photo Credits

  • heavy duty stapler image by Christopher Dodge from Fotolia.com