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Old 04-04-2010, 18:45   #1
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Reupholstering: What Material ?

I should have seen this coming but the rewiring of the entire boat and me varnishing every surface aboard was not enough for the girlfriend. Now we must reupholster too. We went to the fabric store yesterday and were kind of bewildered.

We are looking to redo the interior cushions, they are simple enough that we can do them ourselves. What is a simple, practical and cheap choice for fabric?

The stuff that I found that I liked the best at the fabric store was called duck cloth. It could best be described as canvas and was a simple navy blue. But I think it is all cotton which worries me. What should we get? The stuff that is in there certainly doesn't seem like it is uv or water resistant. Do we really need outdoor fabric?
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Old 04-04-2010, 19:12   #2
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After searching around a little bit I think I need an addendum to this post. Maybe it should be called: "A Cheaper Alternative to Sunbrella".

Anyone Anyone bueller bueller?
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Old 04-04-2010, 19:17   #3
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I think this may be one of those areas where you get what you pay for. Might want to splurge on good fabric since reupholstering is not a job you want to do over again.

That being said, I have read many good things about ultrasuede.
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Old 04-04-2010, 19:20   #4
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We are looking to redo the interior cushions, they are simple enough that we can do them ourselves. What is a simple, practical and cheap choice for fabric?
Basic rule of thumb. NO NATURAL FIBERS! They mildew just because you thought they might last. They don't last for long enough to be bothered with. A few years and it will be trashed and stinky. For dirt cheap fabric look for 100% Olefin. It's basic car seats and some looks OK too. Use any fabric that has no cotton or wool period or anything that might be real. That will at least get you into something you won't be tossing out in the trash soon. Sunbrella remnants on the Internet can be cheap and Glenraven Mills (they make it) makes a lot of other solution dyed cloth and some of it is woven patterns that look exceptional! Used in premium patio furniture too. You don't have to cheap out on poor fabric. Cotton Duck - very very bad.

For foam. No way around it - the cheap stuff sucks and the good stuff costs more than the really good fabric does. 4+ inches of a high density foam with 2 inches of memory foam on top is really nice! Use 6 inches high density and you can sleep on it. Foam has skyrocketed and it's not cheap. No way around it. The old really nice 2 inch high density cockpit cushion stuff that floats - not made any more. The new stuff is rock hard and a poor choice.

Here is another issue. If you want to use good materials don't use the old cushions as patterns. They are stretched out and worn and have lost any good shape if they ever had any. You need to remeasure the whole boat.

A pro is going to to cut the materials tight to the bolt and use less material than you would. They won't screw up and have to buy more (at least that you pay for). If you have not done upholstery this is not something to learn on. It's not easy with expensive materials to save money doing it yourself. With the cheap materials you can afford to mess up but you can't hope to get a good job.

The difference between the marine upholstery people and the furniture people is they come to the boat and measure and know all the materials and suppliers that sell to that market. They may get some volume prices but not that much. The furniture people can sew as well as any and you may do better with someone if you just talk around. Making cushions is pretty basic but it's not fool proof. For the best deal agree to buy the materials and go for a fixed rate labor cost. This way the good stuff won't get marked up. A normal operation takes 50% on the materials plus the labor. Negotiate the whole boat and deal on the labor alone and you can get a fair price. Otherwise they got you on both ends and you'll not get the best deal. Something like a 50% down might help grease the deal. This is not prime time to be shopping. November is better when they are less busy and maybe a little hungry.

Done right with good materials you get 15 years worth of good living will still have it working well and looking acceptable after. The cheap foam is dead in 4 to 5 years and never was that good on day 1. If you plan to live aboard just pretend you are buying a really nice living room set (similar price). Doing it really nice is worth it and a tribute to the hard work that precedes it. With your interior redone the new upholstery will look like a million bucks and kicking back below in the evening will be a whole lot more comfy.
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Old 04-04-2010, 19:20   #5
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You are talking about exterior cushions?

I did my interior and used Vinyl. More friendly to wet backsides and towels but not as nice to sleep on. This was just an 18 foot trailer sailer so we went with the child friendly option.

It was cheaper to add another inch of foam to my old cushions. Cutting new 5 inch foam inserts cost a fortune.

I think vinyl would be best for the outside too - you don't want the foam getting wet. Best to check the UV tolerance of the fabric and get the best. Store the cushions inside when not in use as well will extend their lifespan.

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Old 04-04-2010, 19:36   #6
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I think vinyl would be best for the outside too - you don't want the foam getting wet. Best to check the UV tolerance of the fabric and get the best. Store the cushions inside when not in use as well will extend their lifespan.
For exterior use you can't make vinyl cushion so it won't get wet inside eventually. Better to use reticulated foam with a mesh bottom so they can dry out super fast. We used some textured Stamoid material on top that is water replant like vinyl but your backside won't stick to it if gets hot. The mesh backing and reticulated foam is on the cheaper end of the scale and the cushions dry very quickly. A waterlogged vinyl covered cushion won't dry for a month and will leak at the seams.
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Old 04-04-2010, 19:45   #7
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Check out Topgun, a material somewhat like sunbrella for less. UV resistant, strong, mildew resistant and cheap (er). Definately synthetic though. Not as nice a feel as your cotton Duck.
Top Gun - Best Seller, Awning Fabrics, Textiles, Aquatop®, Coastguard (Comparable to Sunbrella) from Rochford Supply - Your Online Textile and Upholstery Superstore!
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Old 04-04-2010, 19:48   #8
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Pblais I have read your other posts on this topic and you seem to be a well of info on it, I appreciate your response. The interior of a Blackwatch 24 is ridiculously simple, as is the upholstering job. My girlfriend and I are very good with a needle and thread and her grandmother whose house we will be using is very good at upholstery. That takes care of that part of the discussion! The cost of extra scraps, we will just have to absorb.

As for the foam, and maybe I am missing something here, but we weren't planning on replacing it. We have slept on the boat and it is still pretty comfy, no complaints here. Do you think we will need to get new foam for any other reason?

As with all things, there is the cheap way and there is the right way. Like the miser that I am, I am trying to lesson the distance between the two. Please forgive me for making this one of those threads where the Op doesn't want to take his medicine. Has anyone ever used acrylic fabric? It seems to be the cheapest outdoor cloth of them all.
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Old 04-04-2010, 19:51   #9
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And no I am not reupholstering the exterior cushions just the interior.
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Old 04-04-2010, 20:14   #10
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Most pros won't use old foam

Do what you want for fabric, but the foam is what makes a cushion-cushion.
You won't know how old the foam you have is untill you replace it.

Pblais got it all right. We have 10 years on the interior, all ultrasuede, good foam with memory foam on the top for bunks. Looks like new today.

Cheap materials cost more over the long run. Foam ages just by being there, it breaks down, compresses, looses elasticity and shape.

Doing the work yourself evens the equation out some but I don't want to refit any more than I have to.
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Old 04-04-2010, 20:22   #11
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Pblais got it all right. We have 10 years on the interior, all ultrasuede, good foam with memory foam on the top for bunks. Looks like new today.
isn't ultrasuede suedelike? I am looking for something more like canvas.
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Old 04-04-2010, 21:24   #12
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You should check out Topgun if you want an affordable synthetic canvas. Very much like Sunbrella but about $10/ yd of five foot wide material. See the link in my above post. Doesn't stretch. Many colors.
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Old 04-04-2010, 21:40   #13
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You should check out Topgun if you want an affordable synthetic canvas. Very much like Sunbrella but about $10/ yd of five foot wide material. See the link in my above post. Doesn't stretch. Many colors.
I'm sorry I wasn't ignoring you, I actually checked that link out before but was a little confused when it took me to a picture of a boat cover. That couldn't be the same stuff people sleep on right? Is that what you have on your cushions?
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Old 04-04-2010, 21:47   #14
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I should have seen this coming but the rewiring of the entire boat and me varnishing every surface aboard was not enough for the girlfriend.
+1 on ultrasuede. My saloon currently is half leather, half ultrasuede, and I much prefer the later to the former.
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Old 04-04-2010, 21:55   #15
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+1 on ultrasuede.
Ha ha she is, and she's a pain in the neck. But she wants something a little more canvassy too. She's a traditionalist!
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