Sprucing up your boat is one of the most fun parts about owning it. And what better way to do that than to add some of the best marine upholstery fabric with some great designs? Of course, there are plenty of them on the market, but the question is: how do you know which one to buy?
To help you with that, we have created a list of some of the best boat interior upholstery fabric brands to choose from.
I’ve also thrown in a buying guide to help you further narrow down your choices so you can pick the most suitable one for your boat. To top it all off, I also included a few FAQs and their answers so that you’ll fully know what you’re getting into when you start buying your boat upholstery material.
All of these information will help you understand not just what product brands you should focus on but also how to focus your choices so you can buy the best for YOUR own needs and preferences.
With that out of the way, let’s get started with these boat upholstery fabric reviews.
Table of Contents
Best Marine Upholstery Fabric Reviews of 2023
1. Otterex Canvas Vinyl Upholstery Fabric
While most of the upholstery fabrics are 54 inches wide, this one takes it up a notch at 61 inches. This is great for other purposes other than a boat chair such as a sun shield or big wall covering. I personally used this for my interior wall covering due to its big size. Also, you’ll probably like the texture it gives. Instead of having a leather-like texture, it is similar to the texture of an art canvas. It is actually one of the best choices you can make for your boat interior.
Just like all the other vinyl upholstery fabric products in this list, this one is also 100% waterproof and is resistant to mold and mildew growth. One thing that you’ll find interesting is that they sell the fabric by the yard. A single order will be equal to 1 yard of the fabric.
Therefore, if you decide to order 3 pieces, you will actually be ordering 3 yards of the fabric. It can actually save you quite a bit of money than buying a 54-inch wide fabric per roll.
2. Bry Tech Marine1 3×3 Marine Vinyl Fabric
Bry Tech Marine1 offers some of the most premium-quality vinyl fabric that you can find in the market. This marine grade vinyl fabric, in particular, is perfect for outdoor use. Whether it may be raining or sunny, the fabric can totally protect your furniture from any type of weather.
Aside from functionality, it also has a really good aesthetic appeal. I like the fact that there are so many colors that you can choose from. There are over 40 different colors which all look great on not only boat seats but boat accessories as well.
I personally like unique colors on my boat seats, and this brand managed to offer that. Despite the variety of colors, they’re all really subtle so they don’t look cheap when you upholster them. In fact, they look pretty classy once you get them installed, which is another reason why I love this brand.
When it comes to overall aesthetics and outdoor project design, this is a brand that I can recommend.
3. Marine Vinyl Fabric 5 Yards
This subtle yet elegantly colored light grey vinyl fabric is definitely one of my favorites. It’s a pretty heavyweight product that weighs around 28 ounces per yard and has a thickness of 0.95mm. What I like about it is that it is totally waterproof, making it very efficient in protecting your furniture from water that may splash on the boat.
Another cool thing is that it’s mold and mildew resistant which means that it can prevent the growth of molds at a pretty high success rate. For the whole time that I used this product, I never did experience any growth of molds even though water hits my boat seats pretty often.
It also has a pretty good UV protection for up to 500 hours. However, that’s just an estimate of how long the UV can last. From my experience, UV protection can go even up to more than just 500 hours.
Overall, it’s a really great piece of vinyl fabric that will definitely be able to protect your indoor and outdoor boat furniture with the utmost efficiency.
4. The Fabric Exchange Marine Vinyl Fabric
This vinyl fabric is made of 74% PVC and 26% polyester, allowing it to offer the benefits of both plastics. What I really like about the product is its texture. Though the texture may not be very smooth like other vinyl fabrics, the texture gives it a nice look, making it very stylish when you upholster it onto your boat seats. In fact, it comes in 13 different colors, with each color having its own unique texture to it. With the availability of different colors, you can get to choose which style you want.
Other than that, it is also completely waterproof and weatherproof, making it perfect for protecting outdoor boat seats and pilot chairs. Another feature that makes it pretty appealing is the fact that it is really versatile.
While the first choice is more geared toward outdoor use, this product can be used for both indoor and outdoor purposes. Just like most marine vinyl fabrics, this one is also 54 inches wide per role.
However, it is the best one for you if you’re after something that can give a nice design, especially a beautiful interior look. This one has great aesthetic appeal and a wide variety of colors to choose from.
5. Vvivid Heavy Duty Marine Vinyl Fabric
Vvivid is one of the more popular brands of marine vinyl fabric as it is a heavy-duty brand that sells some of the most durable and long-lasting products. This leather textured vinyl product is one of those heavy-duty products that a lot of boat owners buy – including me.
This fabric is pretty much a combination of materials with a 100% polyester mesh backing. Therefore, it is actually part vinyl part mesh (although the majority is still vinyl).
What makes it completely heavy-duty is that it can completely protect your boat’s furniture from water, harsh sunlight, impact, and dirt. It is also resistant to grime and can prevent the growth of mold and mildew. It’s even really easy to clean due to its texture.
All you need is a damp cloth, and you can easily wipe away all the dirt that’s on it. It’s the complete package if you need something that’s really strong. Also, it’s not just great for boat seats but also for boat stools, boat benches, and even pillows.
6. Sunbrella Natural Canvas Fabric
Just like the previously mentioned product, the Sunbrella also sells fabric in a similar fashion by selling the fabric by the yard. The only difference is that the width of this product follows the standard width of 54 inches. However, that doesn’t mean that the product is any lesser.
What I love most about this product is that it is made of a special type of acrylic fabric which is known as the Sunbrella acrylic fabric. This fabric is known to be one of the most stain-resistant, making it extremely easy to clean. The only things you’ll need are mild soap and some water. With just a dip, you’ll be able to take out any stain without trouble. Also, the fabric makes it less likely to spread stains on the fabric. The stain would just stay in one spot ready to be cleaned up.
While using this product, I only noticed that the color didn’t fade unlike a lot of other upholstery fabrics that I’ve bought in the past. Aside from that, it is also UV -resistant and doesn’t stretch too much.
Other than boat seats and boat upholstery projects, I’ve also used it for other furniture as well such as sofas, chairs, and many more. It’s really versatile, so any extra cloth can be used for other purposes as well. Overall, I’d say that this is a high-quality product that is made to last and can be used for almost any upholstery project.
7. Payless Fabric Marine Outdoor Upholstery
Payless Fabric is known for its really good prices. I myself have saved quite a bundle buying from this seller as compared to many other brands. They also sell by the yard and by 10 lots which is pretty much 10 yards.
What I love about them is that they don’t cut it up into 10 separate yards but rather roll it up and send it to you as is. This is good for me as many sellers send their fabric unevenly cut. With 10 yards continuously running, I can cut them up myself to even out the sides.
I also like the fact that they’re really easy to work with. Granted that the fabric is somehow thin, it’s not that heavy to carry and not hard to maneuver. The fabric is really easy to cut and can be sewn even with a simple sewing machine (no need for an industrial one). I would definitely give credit to this product for being one of the easiest to use in this list.
8. Vvivid Faux Leather Marine Upholstery
If you like the feeling of smooth, high-quality leather, then this may be the perfect choice for you. Although it is not made of real leather (faux leather), it feels completely like natural leather. Therefore, when you sit down on it, it’ll be extremely smooth – like one of those luxury sofas. I have this installed on my boat’s sofa, and all my guests love it because they feel comfortable on it.
Aside from the smooth feeling it produces, it’s also pretty durable. It is completely weatherproof which means that it can be installed on outdoor boat seats or pilot chairs. It has this film that also makes it waterproof as well as grime-resistant. That in itself makes it pretty easy to clean. It is also pretty resistant to UV, further making it an ideal material for your outdoor boat upholstery projects.
Even though it is made of leather-textured vinyl, it also has a backing of 100% polyester material. These two types of materials combined make it one of the most sought after in the market.
9. Plastex Snow Brite White Fabric
This one isn’t made of vinyl but PVC and polyester instead. The face is made of 100% PVC while the backing is made of polyester. This makes the fabric really lightweight and pretty easy to handle.
Personally, I recommend that this be used for indoor applications instead of outdoor since it’s not heavy-duty enough to take on outdoor conditions. I use it for my boat’s bedroom area. I also use it for upholstering my indoor chairs, wall coverings, and my bed. The design is also really nice for indoor applications. The fabric makes use of a really relaxing color, hence it’s perfect for resting areas.
I find this fabric pretty easy to clean because you don’t need to use a lot of soap to wipe off any stain. I just use a wet cloth to clean the fabric instead of mixing mild soap or any solution. This actually already does the trick in my case. Overall, it’s beautifully made, easy to clean, and very easy to use.
10. Marine Vinyl Fabric Clear Marine Upholstery
What sets this product apart from the other products I’ve listed is that this one is clear. If you install it on any upholstery project, then you’ll notice that it is see-through. Of course, this does have its own advantage.
For instance, if you want to install a window in your boat interior but prefer not to use glass, you can use this clear vinyl fabric instead. I have done this on my boat and found that clear vinyl is much clearer than glass. This is because vinyl doesn’t fog up like glass and is water-resistant as well.
This fabric also happens to be easier to clean than glass. All you need is a mild soap solution and a cloth. While glass usually takes a few wipes to clean stains, you just need a few wipes to get rid of grime on vinyl. It is extremely reliable and practical.
Another thing that I like about this product is that it is UV-protected. You may think that clear vinyl can’t block off the sun since it has no color. However, it does through a UV-treated film. That quality makes it great for other outdoor boat upholstery projects other than just windows.
What to Look for When Buying a Marine Upholstery Fabric
Now that we’re done with our cabin product reviews, the next thing you want to consider is to decide which among the ten products you should choose. I do understand that all of them seem pretty attractive as they all have their own list of really cool features and designs. However, it is best to use several criteria so that you won’t be overwhelmed with the choices.
If you have decided to buy upholstery for jon boat seats, here are some factors you want to consider first:
The first thing that you may want to take into consideration when buying marine fabric for boats is its material. There are various materials that marine upholstery can be made of. However, the most common ones are vinyl, acrylic, and mesh.
Personally, I prefer vinyl since it is durable, flexible, and long-lasting. Vinyl also happens to be the most common type that you can find in the market. You may also try other fabric, but I personally suggest marine vinyl upholstery fabric. It is for this reason why all of the products that I have listed are made of vinyl fabric.
The next thing to look out for is the grade of the material. As a general rule, there are commercial-grade, marine-grade, and lightweight materials. Commercial-grade materials are around 1/8 inches thick and feel like foam while marine-grade materials are specially used for boats.
Lightweight materials, on the other hand, are simply cloth and may not be suitable for boats unless you’re just going to use them on your boat chair. That said, you would have to look for fabrics made of marine-grade materials if you really want to get the best type of upholstery for your boat. You can actually use other grades, but they most probably won’t last long.
- Water Resistance
Since you’re going to be on the water a lot, then you’ll need upholstery that is waterproof. There are lots of upholstery fabrics that are actually water-resistant. However, that may not be enough to protect the material in the event of an accident or a big wave. That said, it’s important to consider a fabric with a waterproof feature when shopping.
While at sea, you’re going to experience scorching heat and possibly strong winds. In order to fully protect yourself, your upholstery must be sturdy and tough so that it won’t get torn apart or blown away during strong winds. Other than that, it has to be resistant to high temperature as well so that you won’t have to worry about being exposed too much to the harmful UV rays.
These are among the most important things that you need to take note of when looking for the right fabric. Other than that, everything would be mostly about personal preferences, i.e. the color of the fabric, design, and size.
Other Important Factors to Consider
While the guide above can help you narrow your choices for the best marine vinyl fabric, it’s always better to know more about the product so that you can fully tailor the criteria to fit your needs. In order to do so, you must first understand what the product is, how it works, and its types.
What is a Marine Upholstery Fabric?
Basically, marine upholstery fabric is the fabric used for covering up various parts and furniture found in your boat. This type of fabric can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications. For indoors, it can be used for wall coverings, seat covers, as well as a boat cushion fabric and protection for benches. For outdoor applications, it can be used for the pilot chair, outdoor sofas, and cockpit benches.
How Does It Work?
A marine upholstery fabric basically works as the entire material that covers the boat furniture or wall covering. The marine upholstery encompasses not just the fabric itself but also the padding that would protect the furniture. Basically, the entire upholstery acts as a thick covering to keep the boat furniture in good condition.
What are the Different Types of Marine Upholstery Fabrics?
As mentioned above, the three most common types are acrylic, vinyl, and mesh. We’ll go over them in detail one by one.
Vinyl, which is my personal choice, is the classic type that you would see in most boats. It’s extremely durable and flexible, allowing it to have a very long shelf-life. It also has a great texture and can easily block off dirt.
Acrylic is a laminated fabric that is also great for boats. It’s totally waterproof and also fire-resistant. Aside from that, it’s both impact-proof and antibacterial. It does offer a lot of benefits compared to vinyl; however, it’s not as versatile which is why vinyl is a lot more popular. On the other hand, if you’re looking for overall protection, it could prove to be a really solid choice.
The last type of fabric is mesh which has a great look to it. The great thing about mesh is that it can really enhance the look of your boat compared to both vinyl and acrylic. It’s usually made of PVC and can come in lots of different designs.
Since mesh is made of a string pattern, it also comes in many different patterns. Though it’s not totally waterproof, the advantage is that it’s quick-drying and water-resistant.
Why Do You Need a Marine Upholstery Fabric?
It’s not really a case of whether you actually need marine upholstery or not. Rather, having marine upholstery for your boat will give you a ton more benefits than not having marine upholstery. In a sense, you can say that you actually may need it if you see all the advantages they can give you. Here are a few of those benefits that I can name:
- Provides furniture and wall coverings with a longer shelf-life
- Protects boat surroundings from water and harsh weather
- Gives the boat a nice look
- Makes cleaning easy
- Offers a nice texture when you sit on your furniture
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the most trusted marine upholstery fabric brands?
A: One of the best brands of marine upholstery fabric is Sunbrella. Sunbrella upholstery fabric products are known to be extremely durable, tough, and have overall high quality. It’s for these reasons why they’re a favorite among a lot of boat owners including myself.
Aside from Sunbrella, some other really good brands include Plastex and Vvivid. These are some of the brands that I’ve personally hand-picked and added to my reviews above. Out of the brands I’ve listed, I think Sunbrella is the most popular brand along with the other two mentioned. The other seven products are also pretty popular and have high-quality features of their own.
Q: What are marine upholstery fabrics made of?
A: Most of the best fabrics are made of vinyl. There are also some that are made of laminated acrylic and mesh. Meanwhile, you can find a few products which use a combination of materials.
One such example is the Vvivid Heavy Duty Marine Vinyl Fabric. This product makes use of vinyl for the body but comes with a 100% polyester mesh backing. There are other products that may use two types of materials for the body and the backing.
Q: Are they waterproof?
A: Laminated acrylic and quality vinyl marine upholstery fabrics are usually waterproof. However, there are some lower-grade plastic or even vinyl materials that are not waterproof but simply water-resistant. This means that they cannot totally repel water but can block off most of the moist from getting under. All the products that I’ve listed above, however, are all waterproof.
Q: Are they weatherproof?
A: This will heavily depend on the quality of the fabric that you buy. Generally, marine-grade fabrics, especially vinyl, are actually UV-resistant. This means that they can take on the scorching sun rays without getting damaged.
However, there are some products that only have UV resistance for a limited time. As for being windproof, this will all depend on the overall strength of the material and the design of the fabric. There are some that are more durable than others.
One of the things to look out for would be the thickness of the material. Typically, the thicker the material, the less likely the fabric will get torn apart by the wind if you happen to use it as a sun shield.
Q: Aside from furniture and wall coverings, what other uses does marine upholstery fabric have?
A: Vinyl upholstery fabric can also be used for creating sun shields and small tents on your boat’s dock. It can also be used to make roofs in case it rains. These are just a few examples of other applications of marine upholstery fabric. You can pretty much use it for anything you want as long as it fits with the design.
Q: How do I measure upholstery fabric for boat seats?
A: Before you buy upholstery fabric for your boat seats, you have to first measure the dimensions so that the fabric will perfectly encroach your boat seats. The first thing you have to do is measure the length and width of the sections of your seat.
After that, measure the depth of the seat and multiply it by 2. Take the result and use that as your basis. Chances are, you’ll end up with more fabric than you really need; however, it’s still better to have a surplus than a deficiency.
Q: How much upholstery fabric do I need?
A: The amount of upholstery that you buy will really depend on the size of the seat and how many seats there are. One roll of marine vinyl is around 54 inches wide which is enough to fill up one chair.
With that in mind, you can count the number of chairs that you want to upholster and use that as a basis to on how many rolls to buy. If you are going to use them for wall coverings instead, then you can use 54 inches as your basis as to how many rolls you’ll buy. Simply measure the wall covering and play around with the figures as to how many rolls you need.
Q: How do I clean marine upholstery fabric?
A: This will actually depend on how bad the stain on your fabric is. For light or regular cleaning, you just have to use a brush to sweep off the dirt, use a hose to lightly wash the fabric, then prepare a solution of water and dishwashing liquid. Use a bristle brush, dip it into the solution, then brush the fabric. Once the whole fabric is covered, rinse with a hose. After that, air dry the fabric before you use it again.
If there are very stubborn stains or even some molds present, then you’re going to need something much stronger than just your normal solution of dishwashing liquid and water. I prefer using a bleach solution with water and some mild soap. In order to make this solution, you just have to mix 1 cup bleach, 1/4 cup of dishwashing soap, and a gallon of clean water in a bucket.
After that, soak the fabric inside for around 15 minutes. If the stain doesn’t come off, use a sponge to try to scrape it off. Once clean, rinse it down with a hose and air dry it. Doing that should do the trick.
Q: What is the best place to buy upholstery fabric?
A: There are actually a lot of fabric stores in malls or shopping centers that sell upholstery fabric. However, I recommend that you do your shopping online since you can find better prices and you can get the item delivered to you. There are so many good online stores that are reliable and sell quality products.
You may even check Amazon for some good buys if you don’t really do e-commerce shopping. Just choose the option that suits you the best with regard to pricing, convenience, and variety of choices available.
Just one thing you need to keep in mind when buying online, though. Before you decide on a product, make sure to read customer reviews. This will give you an insight into the quality and reliability of the product. It can also provide you with information regarding the possible issues which you might encounter.
Q: Can marine vinyl hold up in the sun?
A: As mentioned, vinyl fabrics are known to be UV-resistant. However, you want to check a fabric’s specification for the Light Fastness Test. This test is used to determine a materials ability to withstand the heat of the sun before it fades and breaks down. However, instead of using direct sunlight, the test makes use of a special UV light which can replicate the sun’s heat impact.
While most brands claim that their vinyl fabric is UV-resistant, there’s no way of telling how long it will hold up in the sun unless you check this specification. For example, a product which claims to have 500 hours of UV protection would mean that the fabric used has undergone such testing to make such a claim.
Each of us has our own needs and preferences when it comes to upholstering our boat chairs and walls. With that, it is important to know how to choose the right brand of fabric since each brand has its own advantages. Due to this, I recommend following certain criteria while shopping. Additionally, you want to know everything there is to know about marine upholstery fabrics before choosing which brand to purchase. It’s for this reason why I also decided to include a buying guide and some facts along with my product list.
This ends our little guide in choosing the best marine upholstery fabric. The choices I recommended all came from the comparison of features and advantages from various well-reviewed products. I have not only researched these products but have used them as well. With that, I was able to come up with a narrowed down list of 10 products that I think are the best.
I am Dave, Marine Talk’s content creator. Boating experiences matter when planning a boat trip for your family or going by yourself. Therefore, I am here to tackle all things relevant to boating so even the inexperienced ones can start their boating safely.