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How to Replace Boat Carpet? – Steps, Costs, and Handy Tips

Fact checked by William Hart

how to replace boat carpet

It’s always exciting to start a new DIY boat project, isn’t it? Although boat carpet replacement will cause you lots of elbow creases, the final result will be an absolute treat. Your vessel will feel much more exquisite and valuable. Most importantly, soiled and rotten carpets will harm the plywood floor underneath if not replaced.

Large DIY projects can feel daunting and impossible at times. So, we’ve prepared the most concise guide on how to replace boat carpets.

As long as you follow the steps precisely and carefully, stunning results are guaranteed.

Table of Contents

What You Will Need

Gather these to remove the old carpet:

Regular acetone can’t remove dry marine glue. Thus, the adhesive remover is a must for this procedure. Remember that the new carpet will only adhere when the old glue comes off entirely.

You won’t need machinery or expensive tools to install a new carpet on small boats. Here is a list of things to prepare:

  • New marine carpet
  • Marine-grade adhesive
  • Tape measure or straight ruler
  • Cardboard
  • Permanent marker
  • Quality carpet/Stanley knife
  • Screwdriver

There are numerous carpet options in the market. Make sure you choose the ones with superior quality, ultraviolet, and water resistance. Regular indoor carpets won’t withstand harsh marine conditions.

Replacing the boat carpet with vinyl is also an excellent choice. The material is UV stabilized (it can absorb UV with little to no degradation). Unlike fabric, vinyl repels liquids; thus is easier to clean and maintain. If you wish to replace boat carpets with non-skid surfaces, opt for SeaDek EVA foam.

In addition, never use regular adhesive to work on your vessel. Look for a marine-grade adhesive that is 100% waterproof, can withstand extreme heat and cold, and is ideal for outdoor furniture.

When you have all the materials, grab a few pieces of cloth to assist in cleaning, and you’re ready to re-carpet your boat.

Steps to Replace Boat Carpet


Step 1. Prime the surface

To begin, load your boat on its trailer and park in a well-ventilated area. Then, remove all the stuff on the floor and detachable deck pieces (e.g., wires, seats). Be mindful when removing the items. Avoid using excessive force and take note of their positions to reinstall them properly.

Re-carpeting takes at least two hours; the glue takes another two to three hours to set. Make sure you don’t need to launch your boat during this period.

Step 2. Remove the old carpet

Some manufacturers use a combination of screws and adhesive to secure the carpet; some only use one. Look for screws or bolts on your floor and remove them with the screwdriver.

Use the scraper to detach the old carpet from the floor. Start from a corner and slowly work your way in. It would be best if you scuffed as much adhesive as possible but be careful not to scratch or damage the floor. When you reach the end, pull and put the carpet aside.

Dissolve the remaining glue with an adhesive remover. Dip a small section of a clean cloth into the solvent and scrub the stains. For tough stains, leave the remover on for a few minutes before scrubbing. You should wear protective gloves and a mask to avoid inhaling chemicals.

Now, examine your boat deck. If you own a second-hand vessel, its plywood can be moldy and spoiled, which might require repairing. For a step-by-step guide, visit our article on how to replace the boat floor.

Otherwise, clean up any residues with the all-purpose household cleaner. You should spray the detergent, use a soft brush or cloth to rub the floor, and wipe it off with a clean cloth. If the deck is still dirty, wash it with boat soap.

Step 3. Measure the floor

You can measure the deck, cut the carpet accordingly, and lay it down. But that method might not provide you with precise measurements. Lacking an inch or two for each section is rather unsightly. We recommend measuring the floor in smaller sections following this procedure:

  • Firstly, draw a basic outline of the floor on a piece of paper. Keep in mind to include the boat seats, drainers, hatches, and any other spots that the carpet won’t cover.
  • Measure each section with a tape measure and note the numbers down on your paper.
  • Mark the template onto the cardboard before cutting it with the Stanley knife.
  • Lay down the cardboard to see if it’s a good fit. You can trim and adjust the cardboard pieces without worrying about wasting materials.
  • Now you have the floor template. Lay the cardboard pieces on the carpet, trace them with a marker, and cut. This way, your carpet will fit perfectly.

The video below will help you visualize each step:

Step 4. Lay down the new carpet

Lay down the new carpet, cut off any excess, and apply the marine adhesive. You should spread a thin layer of adhesive on both the floor and the mat. Use a paintbrush if you need to. Please wait a few minutes for the adhesive to become tacky before pressing them together.

If wrinkles or bubbles appear, quickly lift the carpet before the adhesive binds and repeat the step. You can also buy a carpet roller to make it easier. An alternative to fabric carpets is self-adhesive vinyl ones. They require minimal time and few tools to apply. You must peel off the film and stick them to the floor in small sections.

Step 5. Finish up

Always secure the mat while the glue is set. You should place some blocks or other heavy objects on the edges to keep them from unraveling. Wait for two to three hours until the adhesive is completely set.

Finally, pop back any screws or bolts, reinstall the deck pieces, brush off the carpet, and finish your project.

Tips When Replacing Boat Carpet

  • Carpet thickness – Marine carpets come in various thicknesses. Pay attention to that when purchasing.
  • Measurements – The more effort you put into getting the exact measurements, the more excellent the finish. Also, when cutting the carpet, go a little over the exact amount to leave room for mistakes.
  • Spot repair – You don’t always have to replace the whole carpet, spot repair is an option. The procedure is quite similar: cut off the rotten section, remove it, measure the section, and adhere to the new piece. Keep in mind to purchase matching colors and styles.

How to Keep the New Carpet at Its Top Shape

The materials for this DIY project should cost $500 or less depending on your vessel size. But if you have your boat re-carpeted by professionals, they will charge you from $1,500 to $2,000. You can save a good amount of money by doing it yourself.

High-quality marine carpets can last for years but don’t neglect to care for them. I know boat owners who have to replace marine carpets shortly after a few seasons because they do not take care of their carpets. Save these helpful tips to keep yours in its best condition:

  • Vacuum your mat regularly.
  • Use a hose instead of a pressure washer to clean the carpet.
  • Clean spills as soon as possible to prevent stains.
  • Let the carpet dry thoroughly before covering or storing your boat in the garage.

Through periods of use, carpet sections might unravel, contaminate, or spoil. You should keep an eye on it and spot-repair it when needed to prevent the decay from spreading.


Re-carpeting might be a lot of work, but not daunting or impractical. What’s the point of owning a vessel without a unique mark on it? I hope you enjoy the process on how to replace boat carpet as much as I did.

If you have more tips on replacing the boat floor and carpet, please share with us via the contact page. It is pleasing to hear tried and true experiences from fellow boat owners, so feel free to share yours with us in the comments.

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