How to Replace Vinyl Upholstery on Boat Seats

••• VENITIAN GONDOLA image by Pierre HELGER from Fotolia.com

Ratty looking vinyl boat seats are something any visitor aboard your boat will notice. This is a pity, because vinyl boat upholstery can be replaced as part of regular yearly maintenance. Whether you take care of your boat's upholstery woes at the end of the boating season or at the beginning, replacing worn, torn and discolored vinyl upholstery is a project that's sure to improve the appearance of your boat's interior.

Lift the seat cushion from one seat out of the frame. Turn the cushion over so the plywood base of the cushion is face up. Remove the staples that hold the vinyl upholstery in place on the plywood cushion base by inserting the flat blade of a screwdriver under the staple and twisting. Grasp the staple with pliers and pull it free from the plywood. Remove the old vinyl and the old foam padding from the plywood.

Lay the sheet of new marine vinyl that will replace the old upholstery face down on a flat surface. Lay the old vinyl face down on top of the new marine vinyl. Trace around the old vinyl upholstery with a pencil. Cut the new marine vinyl along the pencil outline of the old vinyl with scissors.

Lay the old foam padding on the sheet of new foam padding. Trace the outline of the old padding onto the new padding with chalk. Cut the new padding along the outline. Place a drop of glue in the middle of the plywood cushion base. Press the new foam pad into place on the plywood cushion base. Allow the glue to set.

Lay the new, trimmed vinyl face on a flat surface. Invert the plywood cushion base and foam and set it on the new marine vinyl. Center the foam on the vinyl.

Fold one edge of the vinyl upward, onto the plywood cushion base. Staple the edge of the vinyl to the plywood with a heavy-duty stapler. Fold the opposite edge of the vinyl upward, pulling it tight. Staple the edge to the plywood. Repeat until all four edges of the vinyl are stapled to the plywood cushion base. Return the seat cushion to the seat frame.


  • You can also use a utility or razor knife to cut the foam.
  • Use scissors with long blades to make long cuts in the vinyl. Long cuts mean fewer zigzags in the edges.

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

  • VENITIAN GONDOLA image by Pierre HELGER from Fotolia.com