Your boat's upholstery is an important part of your comfort. Cracks, holes, and stains make it hard to enjoy your leisure time on the water and decrease the value of your boat. While marine upholstery is made to resist the harsh sun, salt, and water, proper maintenance is vital to avoid big damage. Use these tips to preserve the integrity of your boat's upholstery and avoid exorbitant reupholstering costs:
Protect Vinyl Upholstery
Water-repellant vinyl fabrics and coverings need extra protection from natural elements. These tips help you reduce the effects of wind, rain, and sun on your boat's upholstery.
● The most important step you can take to protect your upholstery is to use a cover made out of a breathable fabric. Water is a fact of life in boats which leads to condensation on the inside of any boat cover. Breathable fabrics allow this moisture to dissipate which helps to prevent the development of mold and mildew in your boat
● Never use tarps to cover your boat. They will trap moisture in your boat and lead to the growth of mold and mildew.
● Never use tarps to cover your boat. They will trap moisture in your boat and lead to the growth of mold and mildew. We say this twice because it is extremely important and is an issue that we see consistently.
● Use gentle cleansers when cleaning your upholstery, this will preserve the coatings and protectants on your vinyl. Applying a vinyl protectant after each cleaning will further extend this protection. These sprays contain ingredients that absorb UV light and repels dirt and oils that can cause cracks or leave your vinyl looking dingy and discolored. We recommend: 303 Aerospace Protectant. NEVER use bleach, it will degrade the vinyl and the thread.
● Dark colored boat covers are better than light colored boat covers for covering your boat when not in use. They heat up the interior of your boat faster to dry out water vapor and condensation.
Defeat Mold and Mildew
The largest threat to your boat upholstery is water. Boats that aren't cleaned and dried properly are at risk for developing nasty mold and mildew growth. These invaders compromise the comfort and safety of your vessel. Add these tips to your maintenance routine to keep your boat free of spores:
● Dry your boat’s upholstery thoroughly before long-term storage. Use an extra absorbent cloth to sop up every bit of moisture around seams, gaps, and zippers. If you know the weather will be dry leave your boat out in the sun uncovered for a couple of days to allow the sun to help dry your boat.
● Help protect your boat from mold and mildew growth during the boating season by drying your boat seats after each use, before covering your boat. Choosing a breathable fabric for your boat cover goes a long way, but every little bit of water removed helps fight mold and mildew.
● Prevention is best! Mold and mildew are extremely difficult to remove from upholstery vinyl. Most methods for removal found on the internet cause damage to either the material or the stitching, making the materials more susceptible to mold or thread rotting in the future. Bleach in particular will rot the thread used to make your boat seats and degrade your vinyl.
Sunlight is your ally in the fight against mold and mildew. However, while sunlight prevents moisture build-up and kills spores, it will also damage your upholstery's dyes. Check your owner's manual for specific care instructions for your upholstery. If the information isn’t in the manual, consider calling the manufacturer for proper care instructions.
For more information about caring for your boat upholstery, please see our other blog posts:
“The Dos and Don’ts of Caring for Your Boat’s Upholstery” and “Maintaining Your Marine Upholstery.”
If your boat upholstery is in need of immediate replacement or repair, contact us today. Our team has decades of experience reupholstering and repairing all types of boat upholstery.