Boat seats and cushions tend to wear out and tear over time, so replacing them becomes a must.
Some boat seats are obvious to take off, they either lift off or have visible snaps.
Other parts of the boat seats are not so obvious and will require some extra steps and tools to get them off.
Every boat is different, but most boats have similar ways to remove the seat.
For some boat seats, nothing holds them in place except gravity or a snap. You simply unsnap the seat, and it comes right off.
Some boats have seats that fold on a hinge, and you need a screwdriver to remove them.
Then you have the seats that are vertical or don’t seem to have anyway to remove them. The screws are often hidden between the folds of the seat, under or above the seat. Let’s not forget the most tricky of them all, they have no screws but use clips to hold it in place and a gentle tug is how you remove them. You will need to explore the seat to see how it comes out.
If the seat or cushion has an opposite side, like a hood, latch or dash, it could be through-bolted, and you need to unscrew it from both sides. The tricky part is that the screws could be hidden behind something, so you may have to remove the piece that is blocking it. There have been a few times I had removed the dash of a boat, reached around to find the screws that held the seat cushion in front of the captain’s chair.
Sometimes for the most tricky pieces that don’t seem to have any screws, a gentle pull up on the seat sets it free and only had clips or plastic rivets that held it in place.
2 Options: DIY or Upholstery Shop
When you have the seats off your boat, you can either take it to an upholstery shop and let them reskin the seats, or you can do it yourself.
The process is not hard, but requires a stapler, sharp razor blade knife, stable remover and a lot of practice. If you don’t care or don’t expect perfection, doing it yourself is fine, and plenty of videos on YouTube show you how.
Foam – Reuse it Or Toss It
When you reskin your boat seats, you may notice the foam under the vinyl is not always in the best shape.
The foam can smell, crumble, and just look awful.
If the foam is not too bad, I usually reuse it, as finding the correct size or making the correct shape is not worth the time. If the foam is missing a piece I may get some small bits of foam and do my best to reshape it like it was, but overall, the seat will look fine when the new vinyl is placed on it.
If the foam is waterlogged, I tend to let it dry out in the sun for a few days to see if it helps. If the water doesn’t come out, I will make new foam for it. If it’s an overcomplicated foam shape, I look for used seats online and use their foam instead.
Cleaning the Foam Is Not Always Worth It
When you remove the vinyl for a boat seat, it’s common for the foam under it to be dirty.
You can clean the foam, but you need to be careful as they attracts water and will make things worse. So avoid the garden hose and pressure washer!
You can wipe the foam down with a damp rag with something like Simple Green on it, but I would not try too hard to clean them, as you won’t get everything out of the foam. You will also need to let the foam dry out before you cover it up, or you’ll get mold and other problems from wet foam.