Standing against the harsh sea elements for years, your boat seats start to tear and show their age. When the time comes, don’t hesitate to reupholster a boat. The longer you procrastinate, the more likely mold and mildew will develop on the seat frame.
How much should you save aside for this project? While the re-furnishing cost of a cushioned seat is only $100 to $300, that of a captain chair or lounge seat might exceed $500. So, if your boat has one captain chair, two cushion seats, and one lounge seat, prepare at least $1,200.
You can, however, significantly reduce the cost by turning it into a DIY project. How much does it cost to reupholster boat seats by yourself? Keep reading for detailed answers.
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How Much to Reupholster Boat Seats?
1. Cost to reupholster boat seats
The cost of reupholstering boat seats depends on three factors: fabric material, seat dimension, and the price tag of your chosen service.
Before starting the project, the staff might ask what type of marine upholstery you want, which greatly affects the overall price. High quality seat cushion and marine vinyl can cost $50-$60/yard. The cost may increase to $100/yard for vinyl with intricate designs.
Service providers might offer cheaper alternatives, such as polyester or faux leather. These may cost around $15-25/yard or even less, but you should be cautious. Sacrificing quality for price reduction can cost you dearly in the long run.
- For example, polyester with a waterproof coating may lose effectiveness once the layer wears off. Cheap boat upholstery also deteriorates after a short period, so you need to pay more to repair them.
- Even worse, damaged upholstery exposes the seat’s wooden frame to the elements. When mold, mildew, and saltwater accumulate and rot the frame, you have no choice but to replace the entire seat.
Therefore, make sure to choose a water-repellent and UV-resistant fabric. These two are the minimal requirements of proper marine upholstery.
After examining your boat, the staff will give you an estimation of material costs, project span, and their hourly rate (which ranges from $55 to $150). On average, boat seat recovering will take 1-2 hours per cushion.
You can expect the average cost in the US as in the boat upholstery price list below.
- Captain chair: $540 to $650
- Cushion seat with backs: $100 to $300, depending on the seat’s measurements
- Lounge seat: $600
2. Other costs
Besides the material and labor costs, you need to pay additional fees to have your seats reupholstered.
If you don’t have a trailer to tow your vessel to the shop’s garage, they might charge a towing fee, depending on the distance between the shop and your location.
If you want an entire boat reupholstering for your wakeboard boat, expect to pay more for other boat parts:
- Engine vinyl cover: $370
- Armrest: $100
- Deck pad: $260 to $400
With these expenses added in, the cost to reupholster an entire vessel might land at around $3,500.
Factors That Affect Reupholster Boat Seat Costs
Besides materials and the hourly rate, reupholster boat seats price is affected by the following factors:
1. The project’s span
Most services charge hourly. So, the longer your boat upholstery repair lasts, the higher the bill is. The project’s span depends on several elements—the condition and complexity of the seat design, for example.
While recovering a cushioned seat might take only one to two hours, dealing with a large deck pad, such as the sundeck, can take up to eight hours.
In addition, if you leave the seat deteriorated for too long, moisture can seep into the wooden frame and create a perfect house for mold and mildew. In that case, the technicians need to recover or replace the wood entirely, thus bumping up the price.
You should multiply the estimated span by an average rate of $80 per hour to anticipate the amount you will pay.
2. The quality of the work
The difference between having your boat reupholstered by professionals and amateurs is the quality of the work. So, make sure you select a reliable service.
Inexperienced technicians offer a lower rate, but their work might not be top quality. After a while, you will notice the stitches coming off and the vinyl creasing.
How to Make Your Own Seat Covers for Boats
If the cost to recover pontoon boat seats by professionals is over your budget, you can start a DIY reupholstering project.
You will need to pay for:
- High-quality marine grade vinyl: starting at $50/yard
- Foam cushion: $15 to $60 per seat
- Electric staple gun: $30 to $50 on average
If your seats require sewing to reupholster, you can purchase boat seat upholstery kits, which cost around $10. In total, the project might be less than $300. Once you have gathered the tools and materials, follow these steps:
- Step 1. Remove the old upholstery with a screwdriver and examine the seat frame. If the structure is rotten, you must clean and restore it before placing the new foam on top.
- Step 2. Measure and cut the foam cushion and vinyl following the old upholstery’s dimensions. As boat seat foam is rather thick, you may need a Stanley knife.
- Step 3. Place the foam on the seat base and back, cover it with the vinyl, and adjust until it fits perfectly. You might need the help of another person for this step.
- Step 4. Stretch the vinyl as tight as possible and staple it to the wood underneath the seat.
- Step 5. Apply a vinyl protectant to guard the fabric against UV rays and saltwater.
Repeat the steps with each seat that needs reupholstering.
- Note: The steps might only work for simple-designed boat seats. If you encounter bends and curves that the vinyl can’t stick to, use an industrial sewing machine, which costs around $800. Not everyone has the skill set to operate a sewing machine, though. So, call a service to avoid damaging the boat seats if necessary.
Why Are Boat Seat Covers So Expensive?
The main reason for boat seat covers’ hefty price is their quality. Unlike indoor furniture’s upholstery, boat covers must withstand the effects of weathering directly. They must be waterproof, UV-resistant, sturdy, and comfortable materials.
What’s more, many boat seat covers come with fancy designs that require hours of work. Even simple decorative elements will take quite a lot of time to prepare, thus increasing the price.
To sum up, how much does it cost to reupholster boat seats? The cost will vary depending on how long the project takes, the quality of service, and the material. Overall, reupholstering the entire boat can set you back at least a thousand dollars, whereas a DIY project may only cost $300.
You should spend time weighing your options depending on the conditions and designs of your boat seats. We hope our article has provided helpful information to help you make the smartest decisions.
Working to create content for Marine Talk has always been a fascinating experience. I get to travel, absorb knowledge about boating, and tackle all the issues when we sail into freedom!