Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Keep your boat upholstery looking shipshape with these 7 expert tips, from breathable covers to immediate repairs, ensuring your boat stays comfortable and stylish.
Ahoy there, dedicated boat owners! Are you looking to keep that flashy boat shining like the day you set sail for the first time? While a spray down and extra slap of paint works well for the body, boat engine, and trailer, those seats may have seen a few too many sunburned backs and sunscreen spills.
It is critical that you understand how best to maintain your vinyl seats through cleaning and proper care when the weather is perfect, as well as in the off-season. You don’t want to go from the dry dock outdoor storage to the water and find boat seat covers that are cracked, moldy, and not ready for use. Give your boat upholstery the tender, loving care it deserves. Put on your captain's hat, and let's navigate these waters together.
Use a Breathable Boat Fabric Cover
All right, first things first. That big blue tarp you've got? The one that traps all the moisture and treats your boat's upholstery like a sauna? Yeah, toss it overboard (not literally; it works well for transporting things in your car or covering woodpiles).
Instead, invest in a breathable fabric cover. Why? Because your upholstery needs to breathe as much as your great Aunt after five flights of stairs or a hard tango session. A breathable cover won't trap moisture and will prevent mold and mildew those uninvited guests from crashing your boat party. If left unchecked, this mildew can cause a disgusting stench and harm the physical structure of the vinyl surface. A thorough cleaning with a soft brush can go a long way to preventing this issue.
Regular Cleaning and Disinfection
Imagine giving your boat upholstery the spa day they've always dreamed of. Regular cleaning not only removes dirt, but with the right products, it offers protection from harmful UV rays.
So many things can build up on the surface of your vinyl upholstery. From salt in the air to a random shower carrying over dirt from the mainland, your boat seating can get gross way too quickly. Using a soft cloth or soft bristle brush, gently clean the surface, and remember to apply UV protectants to guard against the sun's wrath.
Drying After Each Use
Did you get caught in the rain during your last voyage? Or did someone decide to start a water balloon fight on deck? Either way, drying is crucial. Especially those sneaky spots like seams, gaps, and zippers.
Moisture is like that ex you can't get rid of - it lingers. Damp vinyl seats are an open invitation for mold and mildew growth, as well as a very uncomfortable ride if you’re planning on getting back out on a colder day. Keep a few towels around the boat storage area to wipe down all the seats. If you have anything that is “high absorbent,” so much the better.
Shielding from the Sun
Direct sunlight is to your boat upholstery what candy is to teeth: not great. Consider installing screens or shades. Your seats will thank you for it, and you won't end up with hot pants after sitting down after lunch.
The general rule of thumb is to go with dark-colored boat covers because they will heat up the interior of your cabin area much faster. That, in turn, will dry out excess water vapor or any leftover condensation from the afternoon lunch your kids decided was better served as a food fight.
Think of boat seat covers as the latest fashion trend. Not only do they look chic, but they also protect your precious marine vinyl upholstery from wear and tear. It's like having a protective barrier against suntan lotion, sandwiches, and any other substances that find their way onto the boat.
That is especially helpful for UV protection and whenever you have a lot of water sports or fishing gear on board. An absent hook can make quick work of boat upholstery when there isn’t an added layer of coverage.
Get Immediate Repairs
Notice a small tear or scratch? Maybe a tiny blemish? Don't procrastinate! Address it before it becomes a gaping hole that swallows up your weekend plans.
The longer you wait, the worse these issues are going to get and the more maintenance your boat upholstery will need in the long run. For minor problems, there are DIY repair kits. For bigger ones, calling in an expert might be the best bet.
When in Doubt, Call a Pro Cleaner
Every once in a while, treat your boat to a professional cleaning. Think of it as a spa retreat for your boat. They'll address stubborn stains, provide a thorough cleaning, and leave your boat looking and feeling rejuvenated.
Most importantly, they will have the experience and attention to detail to work with custom colors or materials you have invested in for your boat upholstery.
Avoid Common Mistakes: Know Before You Go
Don't Use a Power Washer: Tempting? Yes. A good idea? No. The force could harm your marine vinyl upholstery because the pressure can rip holes, extend tears, or unearth seams that may have already been on the verge of getting worse.
Stay Away from High Alcohol Content Products: Using these is like feeding your vinyl upholstery a diet of junk food. It'll look good for a while, then - bam! Cracking and dryness. Any product with high alcohol content will likely dry out the surface, leading to bad cracks and potential stains.
Ditch the Bleach: Unless you're trying to create a boat-themed horror story, avoid bleach. It's abrasive and not vinyl friendly. This will harm the quality of your vinyl coverings – especially in the sunlight.
How do you preserve boat upholstery?
Easy peasy! Regular cleaning, using UV protection, drying thoroughly after use, and giving your boat seats the cover they deserve. Avoid abrasive cleaners and follow our guide above to keep your upholstery in shape.
How do I keep my boat seats like new ones?
Show them love! Regular cleaning with a soft cloth, protection from direct sunlight, and seat covers can make your boat seats feel forever young.
How long does marine upholstery last?
With proper care and a sprinkle of attention, marine upholstery can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. But remember, quality varies, so always pick the best when buying or replacing.
How do you bring boat seats back to life?
A thorough cleaning with a mix of mild soap and water, followed by a good drying session and UV protection, works wonders. If the damage is too much, consider consulting with professionals for expert advice.
So, there you have it. Keeping your boat upholstery in tip-top shape is about attention, care, and not letting problems fester. Follow these steps, and your boat will be the talk of the marina, not just for its swanky exterior but also well-maintained interiors.
Make a habit of wiping things down and try to teach those same qualities to your kids, friends, guests, or anyone else hoping to borrow the boat for the upcoming weekend.