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Old 24-02-2022, 11:32   #1
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How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

I've got a 26' sloop with quarterberths attached to settees and im trying to decide on what type of upholstery to get. The main concern is fabric choice. Because the boat is so small and relatively dark I thought light colours would be best but then ill be worried about staining. I have a sooty alcohol stove (that I'm keeping) and occasionally cut myself so the fabric is bound to get dirty, how easy is Sunbrella to clean while underway?

Initially I was going to go with the traditional navy blue to go with the brown woods and white ceiling but that'll be really dark and depressing when it's cloudy.

How did you choose and are you happy with your decision? I'm on a budget so I really want to get it right the first time.
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Old 24-02-2022, 14:16   #2
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

Sunbrella fabric has worked out very well for me. Go with a light gray, its neutral and coordinates well with anything. https://www.sunbrella.com/sunbrella-...fog-42082-0002
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Old 24-02-2022, 16:26   #3
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

Our boat has a flush deck and no windows so you'd think it would be dark however the deck lights and clear hatches, along with white painted walls make the inside pretty bright. We have quality lighting with spots (like track lighting) and the lighting makes the boat feel warm, intimate, and cozy, even on long northern winters under full boat covers when little natural light is available .

We've had dark blue pin striped wool upholstery which was on the boat when we bought it. It looked good, wore well, and was easy to clean (a big pot of spaghetti dumped on it once and it cleaned up easy). This lasted for 15 years.

The dark color does not make it gloomy.

When it wore out we bought heavy duty roll ends upholstery material from a fabric store, in a dark burgundy pattern, which also lasted about 13 years.

We are on the third round of upholstery, again it was roll ends from a fabric store. It is now 9 years old and showing a lot of wear so this batch was not as good. It was also dark burgundy in color.

We live on the boat, we are on these settees and cushions constantly, in hot and cold climates (mostly hot) and we have always chosen material which will be comfortable to feel. Not velvet, vinyl or suede but soft to the touch. Sunbrella would have a hard feel so we would not choose that, plus who needs UV protection inside the boat?

We are looking again and will buy commercial upholstery material with a nice touch and a color which matches our interior decor, and hopefully will last a long time.
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Old 24-02-2022, 18:22   #4
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

We found a navy blue with pin dots to keep it from looking too dark. As wingsail points out, you want something that holds up well. We went with something the upholsterer suggested, figuring that he knew material better than we did. 20+ years - it has worked well for us. The local upholsterer, btw, came out to the boat and measured because he thought having boat cushion photos in his portfolio would be good for his business. Less expensive than the "marine" version, and just as well made, if not better.
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Old 24-02-2022, 18:52   #5
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

For my 21-footer I used a bold synthetic from Walmart, on sake and light enough to go through the home sewing machine no problem. The only thing I would do different is to use the self-sticking seam tape to keep the seams aligned while stitching. This reminds me I need to make the piece to cover the 'throne'...
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Old 24-02-2022, 21:31   #6
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

You can get swatches from most stores unless you’re buying remnants, so I’d get a few of those and see what they look like in the boat - sometimes stuff can surprise you by how much the color changes in different lighting. If you’ll have any exposed to sunlight, stick the swatch out for a bit, too, see how it handles it.
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Old 24-02-2022, 21:41   #7
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

Hi, Notfast,

We had a friend who used royal blue Sunbrella for the cushions. They will hold up very well. However, acrylic fabrics are vulnerable to dirty engine oil stains. Waterless handcleaner is the best answer to that that I have found. We have used burgundy sunbrella on our cockpit cushions, and it lasts for years and doesn't UV fade. It is machine washable.

For below decks use, you could use WeatherMax, if a solid color is okay, it, too comes in a light gray, and it is polyester, so regular household cleaners work pretty well on it, and of course, it is machine washable. It weighs about 1/2 as much as Sunbrella, and has half the life, out of doors, but I think it would be very durable for inside use.

I don't know if you like sewing or not, but cushion covers are easy to learn on, and if you run the zips on top, bottom, and outboard sides, they are a snap to take off, wash and bring back to the boat. A YKK #5 zip is overkill, but slides really easy. Velcro works, too, I just happen to like the zips way, way better.



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Old 25-02-2022, 03:11   #8
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

Disclaimer: I worked in a canvas house.

Sunbrella (Glen Raven) makes different fabrics for different uses. The awning canvas is great for that, and is excellent against UV, but its abrasion resistance is dismal, and it is heavy and stiff for cushions, especially interior.

There exists Sunbrella Furniture Fabric, which now has a different name, but is purpose made for seats and cushions, with a lighter hand and better abrasion resistance. Sunbrella is now offering light vinyls as well.

I covered my salon with the Furniture Fabric, and seven years in, five full time, still look good and wash well/dry quickly (don’t put Sunbrella in the dryer)

Whatever you decide, don’t use natural fiber. Synthetic is best for durability and especially mildew resistance
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Old 25-02-2022, 04:26   #9
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
... acrylic fabrics are vulnerable to dirty engine oil stains. Waterless handcleaner is the best answer to that that I have found. ..
Interesting. [never heard that before, but it makes sense]

Sunbrella® generally recommends a cleaning solution of water and mild soap [such as Woolite® or Dawn® dishwashing liquid], or [sometimes] products such as 303® Multi-Surface Cleaner, or Resolve®.

Sunbrella® Cleaning Guide
https://global.sunbrella.com/en-us/h...cleaning-guide

Clean Sunbrella® Marine Upholstery
https://global.sunbrella.com/en-us/h...ine-upholstery
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Old 25-02-2022, 05:33   #10
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

Canvas pro here. I agree with TamiCatana, and most of the above.

Anything with a tweed or pattern will hide dirt & stains better than a solid color. The Royal Blue that Ann suggests is a tweed. Charcoal Tweed is about the best for hiding dirt, stains, and whatever.
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Old 25-02-2022, 05:37   #11
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

We chose from a store specialised in furniture fabrics some fabric for outdoor furniture, like lawn sofas, pool-recliners and Hollywood-swing cushions. These held up better than the old fabrics and wasn't affected by getting wet.

As the colour, don't sweat it too much. We went with a moss-green because it fit the colour scheme of the boat. If you feel it's too dark, let your favourite lady go crazy with cheerful pillows and the problem is solved.

Stay away from any kind of white, cream, beige, yellow or black. Those colours seem to be the ones looking awful most quickly.
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Old 25-02-2022, 06:07   #12
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

We went with sunbrella but picked a "jungle" pattern (looks like various bits of foliage) with multiple colors. Makes it very hard to find stains.
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Old 25-02-2022, 08:51   #13
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

We've made cushions inside and out covered with Brisa.
Really easy to clean and cat claw proof.
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Old 25-02-2022, 11:40   #14
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

Thanks for all the great advice, Guys ✌️
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Old 25-02-2022, 12:44   #15
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Re: How to Decide on Boat Upholstery

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
Hi, Notfast,

We had a friend who used royal blue Sunbrella for the cushions. They will hold up very well. However, acrylic fabrics are vulnerable to dirty engine oil stains. Waterless handcleaner is the best answer to that that I have found. We have used burgundy sunbrella on our cockpit cushions, and it lasts for years and doesn't UV fade. It is machine washable.

For below decks use, you could use WeatherMax, if a solid color is okay, it, too comes in a light gray, and it is polyester, so regular household cleaners work pretty well on it, and of course, it is machine washable. It weighs about 1/2 as much as Sunbrella, and has half the life, out of doors, but I think it would be very durable for inside use.

I don't know if you like sewing or not, but cushion covers are easy to learn on, and if you run the zips on top, bottom, and outboard sides, they are a snap to take off, wash and bring back to the boat. A YKK #5 zip is overkill, but slides really easy. Velcro works, too, I just happen to like the zips way, way better.



Ann
I've had problems with WMax puckering while sewing. Make sure to sew some samples. In any case, no pattern and no nap make sewing easier for a newbee. And not exceeding the capacity of your sewing machine.
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