Boat Seat Re-Upholstery tips by Boating.Guide

A Guide To Boat Seat Re-Upholstery Costs

Boat Seat Re-Upholstery isn’t as tough as you might think. Boat seats can receive damage from direct sunlight, rain, moisture, water, etc. Re-upholstering is the best way to recover your existing boat seats. Re-upholstery can be cheaper than replacing the entire boat seats, and you can either hire a professional or do it yourself. But please remember, this task requires a lot of patience, efforts and there’s a high chance of ruining the entire project.

The cost of boat seat re-upholstery depends on the size and quantity of seats to repair, and quality of materials used, etc. The price can further increase if changing the padding too. However, merely changing the vinyl will be cheaper.

If you’re unsure about the cost involved in seat re-upholstery, then you’ve reached the right place. This article is a compact guide to the boat seat re-upholstery cost. Keep reading until the end for lots of information!

Boat Seat Re-Upholstery Required Materials

This section lists down the materials required to renew your boat seats. The best way to get the estimated cost involved is to check out the materials’ prices on the e-commerce websites. We’ve taken the references from Amazon USA in this section.

  • Foam sheet/padding
Foam rubber is great for boat seat re-upholstery.

You will install the foam padding on the seat’s structure. These sheets are available in different sizes, and once you start searching, you’ll get confused. 

For instance, suppose a 2″ x 24″ x 72″ foam sheet costs $34.99, and a 3″ x 24″ x 72″ foam sheet costs about $39.99. Which one will you choose? Also, remember that these are just two variants. What if there were hundreds of choices for the variant? 

Here’s the quick and simple solution- 2 x 24 x 72 = 3456 cubic inch which costs $34.99

All you have to do is divide the price by the total volume, which will be: ($34.99 / 3456)

It will give you the price per cubic inch, which will be $0.01

Finding the cost per cubic inch won’t take long once you get familiar with this formula. With this, you can filter out the cheapest foam sheets available.

Now let’s calculate the required padding. First of all, measure the length and the width of the areas on which you’ll install the foam sheet (seat bottom and the bench back). Secondly, decide the thickness of the foam sheet. Generally, a 2″ or a 3″ thick padding is good enough, but you can opt for the thicker ones if you feel so.

  • Screws

Screws are the best option to keep the foam in place. Alternatively, you can glue them with the structure, but that’s inefficient in the long run. Since you’ll be restoring the seats, it’s entirely possible that the seat structure already has holes for them. Please remember that the screws for this purpose will be different from the regular hardware screws. These will be similar to thumbtacks or something like that.

You can find a decent screw set on Amazon USA. Opting for a screw set comes with other necessary items, such as snaps and sockets. Ideally, a 150-pcs set contains snaps, sockets, and screws (50-pcs each).

  • Vinyl

Choose vinyl very carefully! Ensure that the vinyl you choose is suited for boat seats—the boat market flourishes with thousands of vinyl varieties. Many come with an extra layer of thin padding (and will cost slightly more), while some are regular vinyl sheets. If opting for leather sheets, ensure that it’s the leather you want. 

Leather comes in different varieties- one made from animal skin (the genuine leather), and one is artificial leather. Many sellers sell synthetic leather in the name of genuine leather. The natural leather won’t catch fire easily if you don’t know. 

The best way to test it out is to light a matchstick and put the sheet on fire for 2-3 seconds (only if buying from the local market and the seller lets you do that). The genuine leather won’t burn!

Let’s bring the old mathematical formula to find the cheapest vinyl sheet. Suppose a 2″ x 3″ vinyl sheet costs $13.99 and another 5″ x 3″ sheet costs $16.99. Which one will you choose? 

Find the cost per square inch by dividing the price by the total area, i.e. ($13.99 / 6) = $2.33 per square inch.

  • Upholstery Repair Kit

A typical upholstery repair kit includes the following items:

  1. Stitching needles
  2. Thread cord
  3. Sewing needles
  4. Stitching awl
  5. Hook awl
  6. Measuring tape
  7. Sewing thimble
  8. Yarn scissors

You can purchase one repair kit for as low as $12.99. However, the threads’ quality is questionable. Also, the number of lines included in the set may not be sufficient. So, to stay on the safe side, purchase threads separately.

  • Nylon Thread

Nylon thread is considered excellent for stitching leather sheets. It’s strong, durable, and, best of all, affordable. It comes in several colors and costs as low as $13 (length: 1250 yards). 

  • Other optional Items

Perhaps you can consider procuring the following optional items to make your task a lot easier:

  1. Handheld sewing machine ($7.99 to $29.99)
  2. Upholstery stapler ($20.99 to $38.95)

Things To Consider Before Upholstering

Boat seat interior and exterior upholstery can really liven up the space. Find boat upholstery tips at Boating.Guide.
Boat upholstery can really make the interior appealing.

There are a couple of things you might want to consider before getting started with upholstering. For instance, “is it worth upholstering” or maybe “should you hire a professional or do it yourself” etc. Read this section for more such points.

Are The Seats Worth Re-upholstering?

Ensure that the seat framework isn’t rusty (if it’s a metallic framework). Alternatively, if it’s a wooden framework, inspect whether or not the wood is in good condition and worth reupholstering. Secondly, check out the prices of new boat seats. If the new seats cost nearby the repairing cost, you might consider replacing them instead of reupholstering them.

Decide Whether To Hire A Pro Or Do It Yourself

Professionals can do the work efficiently in less time. That way, you can save yourself from lots of trouble. Leave it to them if you can’t afford to take the day off from work to revive your boat seats. 

However, if doing so, you must conduct market research and get quotations from different professionals instead of sticking to just one or two upholsters. Several upholsters will quote different prices, out of which you can choose the most appropriate one.

Don’t Fall For The Cheapest Quote

You might find a decent upholster offering you the cheapest quote. Always remember that the cheap upholsters substitute the stitching and sewing work with glue for cost-cutting and getting the job done faster. Glue can discolor the fabric, will dry out, and fail quickly, hence inefficient in the long run. If hiring a professional, clean the air and instruct the workers not to use glue.

Tips To Save Money When Re-Upholstering

Here are some tips you can consider to save a few bucks when reupholstering your boat seats.

  1. Check the padding. If it’s gone flat, you can install new (but thinner) padding on it. Thinner padding will be cheaper, allowing you to save some money. But if there are bumps in the padding, completely replacing the foam sheets is the recommended option.

Foam pads are considered one of the significant expenses in the boat seat restoration process; hence, saving money on this material will make a considerable difference. 

  1. If the vinyl is still in good condition, you can consider reusing it (in fact, many people reuse it). Similarly, other metallic items (snaps, sockets, and screws) may be reusable. Reusing vinyl can save a lot of money, but other small metallic things won’t make much difference.
  2. Don’t always stick to the cheapest materials. Cheap material doesn’t last long. So, it’s advisable to buy a bit costly material, which can last longer, hence proving to be cheaper in the long run. 

For instance, if low-quality material costs $2,000 (imaginary figure), it’s best to spend, say ($3,000). That way, you won’t revive your boat seats again shortly.

  1. Perhaps the upholstery kit (discussed above) isn’t essential as most of the included items are accessible at home. Instead of going for the set, you can purchase a good-quality nylon thread (discussed above), eliminating the upholstery kit.


That’s it! By the end of this article, you must have learned about the materials needed for reupholstering and their cost estimates. Remember that there’s a wide variety of materials in the market, and perhaps you can find cheaper items. We’ve covered a few tips to save money and a few points that you can consider before getting started with the restoration process. Our job was to give you the correct and informative details, and now it’s time for you to take action. Good luck!

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