Vinyl boat seats take lots of abuse and eventually become old, worn and weathered. Sometimes, all that is needed to bring them back to life is a new paint job. Applying a new coat of paint is a relatively easy process. However, when the fabric is torn or worn out, the seats need more than a new coat of paint. In that case, it is time to replace the vinyl fabric. In both cases, the first step is to remove the seats from the boat.
Cleaning and Painting
Remove the vinyl seats from the boat. Find a shaded work area and lay out a large painter's tarp. Avoid painting in direct sunlight. Place the seats on the tarp.
Fill a bucket with warm water and a mild detergent. Wash the seats thoroughly with a sponge. Rinse them and remove all the soap residue. Dry the seats as much as possible with a lint-free towel. Allow them to dry completely.
Protect non-painted parts with blue painter's tape. If the seats have metal or other parts that should not be painted, cover those areas with blue painter's tape. Dust the seats off so they are ready to be painted.
Paint the seats with the vinyl paint. Such paint actually contains vinyl, which helps the paint adhere to the material. It also prevents the paint from cracking or flaking off. Spray the seats with a slow back-and-forth motion, keeping the spray can 10 to 12 inches away from the seat. Don't make the paint layer too heavy. This will cause runs and drips. Allow the seat to dry and then apply a second coat.
Once dry, protect the paint. Spray the seats with an all-purpose protective coat, such as Armor All. This will ensure the durability of the new paint job.
Replacing Vinyl Fabric
Turn the seats upside down. The vinyl is held in place by staples on the bottom. Remove the staples. Take out the old cushions. Set the cushions aside and make a note of which seat they belong too. This will prevent confusion when the new fabric is being attached.
Lay the old vinyl out on the tarps. Measure the surface with a tape measure. Write the measurements down and add 6 to 7 inches, which you will need when installing the new fabric. Save the old vinyl to be used as patterns for the new seat covers.
Purchase new vinyl for the seats. Visit a fabric store or go online to fabricdirect.com. The fabric store will cut the new vinyl to your specifications.
Lay the new vinyl on the tarps. Use the old vinyl as a pattern. Lay the old vinyl on top of the new vinyl and make any additional cuts necessary to fashion the new seat covers.
Place the cushions in the new vinyl. Stretch it to fit and secure it with staples along the bottom.