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How Much Does Boat Upholstery Cost?

Last Updated on February 28, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Replacing or repairing boat upholstery can seem expensive, but it is an essential part of maintaining your marine interior. Investing in quality marine-grade materials and professional installation will pay off in the long run.

This guide covers everything you need to know about boat upholstery costs, from DIY projects to hiring a pro.


Here are the key points to remember when budgeting and planning for boat upholstery replacement:

  • Expect to spend $500-800 on average per seat$1000-2000 for more complex helm seats, and $8000+ for larger interior refurbishment projects.
  • Using high-quality marine-grade materials and experienced professional installers provides maximum longevity and functionality.
  • Maintenance costs are reduced when boat upholstery is cleaned and conditioned regularly to prevent premature damage.
  • Even DIY projects require specialized tools and skills for marine upholstery work to get professional-looking results.
  • Protect your investment and comfort by reupholstering upholstery before it gets excessively worn.

How Much Does Boat Upholstery Cost?

To give you a general idea of cost ranges, here are some typical prices:

  • Reupholstering a single helm seat or boat seat bottom cushion runs $500-800 on average.
  • For a full boat seat including the bottom, backrest, and side bolsters expect $1,200-$1,500.
  • Larger L-shaped sofa seats can cost $1,800-$2,500 to reupholster.
  • Helm seat covers including headrests, armrests, and storage compartments cost $1,000-$2,000.
  • For a complete boat interior refurbishment with all seats, berths, headliners, and accent panels replaced, plan on spending $8000-15,000 or more depending on the size and complexity of the space.

Marine upholstery costs $100-200 per hour for professional labor. Materials then add $15-100+ per yard depending on the type. Even a small boat likely needs 10+ yards of material.

These price ranges assume high-quality marine-grade upholstery materials are used. The costs can be higher for exotic leathers or specialty fabrics. Simple vinyls or DIY labor reduce costs.

BoatinGuru mentions that Custom Home Style Upholstery’s shop rate is around $80 per hour for boat seat re-upholstery. The cost of marine vinyl from “New York Boat Canvas” was approximately $21.49 per yard for one type and $19.67 per yard for another type. The total cost of reupholstering boat seats can be upwards of $80 per hour for labor alone if done professionally.

Begin Boating states that boat seat reupholstery can cost upwards of $80 per hour for labor at a professional shop, in addition to the cost of marine vinyl chosen. The article emphasizes the importance of considering the value of the boat when determining the level of materials and workmanship desired.

Maintaining Boat Upholstery

Beyond just making your boat look nice, reupholstering worn or damaged seats, berths, headliners and interior panels serves some key functions:

  • Protects underlying framework – Deteriorating upholstery allows water intrusion leading to rot and corrosion of wood and metal.
  • Provides water resistance – Marine-grade materials are designed to withstand wetness and humidity.
  • Adds comfort – New foam and fabrics make seating more comfortable and supportive.
  • Improves safety – Securely fastened upholstery reduces slipping and improves security in rough water.
  • Increases value – A refreshed interior keeps your boat attractive for resale.
  • Enhances experience – Comfortable and functional upholstery allows you to better enjoy time spent aboard.

Regular upholstery replacement and repair should be part of any boat owner’s long-term maintenance plan and budget.

Factors That Determine Boat Upholstery Costs

Several important factors affect the costs of reupholstering part or all of a boat’s interior:

  • Boat size – The total square footage and number of seating areas determine how much material is required. Bigger boats cost more overall.
  • Seat size and quantity – More large L-shaped sofas or helm seats add cost versus just cushions.
  • Labor hourly rate – This can range from $60-150 per hour based on location and the upholsterer’s reputation and experience.
  • Complexity of project – Simple cushions cost less than intricate helm seats and headliners. Expect custom details and shapes to add labor time.
  • Material types – Marine vinyls cost less than specialty fabrics or exotic leathers. Custom patterns cost extra too.
  • Required repairs – Rotted framework and water damage add repair costs before new upholstery can be installed.
  • Accessibility – Harder to access areas mean more labor time. Removing deck hardware to access beneath may add costs.

Get an itemized quote accounting for all these factors before starting a major upholstery project. Expect a range depending on potential issues revealed during the work.

Types of Boat Upholstery Materials

Choosing the right marine upholstery involves tradeoffs between aesthetics, durability, maintenance, and cost:

Marine-Grade Vinyl

  • Cost – $20-50 per yard
  • Durability – With proper care can last 5-10 years. Most water-resistant choice.
  • Maintenance – Easy to clean by wiping and using vinyl protectants.
  • Aesthetic – Allows a wide range of color choices and patterns.


  • Cost – $50-100 per yard
  • Durability – Will patina and wear over time but can last many years with proper care.
  • Maintenance – Requires frequent cleaning and conditioning to avoid drying out.
  • Aesthetic – Provides an upscale, elegant look but fewer color options.

Marine Fabrics

  • Cost – $15-30 per yard
  • Durability – Varies widely. Look for UV, mildew, and stain-resistant treatments.
  • Maintenance – Usually machine washable but may require re-treatment of protections.
  • Aesthetic – A wide range of patterns and textures available for soft, welcoming look.

Choosing the Right Upholstery Materials

There are a few key factors to weigh when selecting marine upholstery materials:

Usage – How often is the boat used? All-day saltwater fishing trips versus occasional light duty?

Care abilities – Will the materials be properly cleaned and maintained?

Aesthetic goals – Formal and elegant or fun and sporty?

Budget – Premium materials cost more upfront but deliver longevity and value.

Environmental factors – Will upholstery be exposed to intense sunlight and humidity?

Consult with your upholsterer for advice on fabrics and leathers appropriate for your climate and boating style. They can steer you towards long-lasting, easy-care choices suited to your needs.

Finding the Right Boat Upholstery Provider

Getting your upholstery work done right means finding an experienced marine specialist. Here are tips for choosing a quality boat upholstery provider:

  • Search for “marine upholstery” specifically – Not just auto and furniture pros. Look for boat-specific examples.
  • Ask detailed questions about materials, construction methods, warranties, timeframes, and costs.
  • Compare portfolios to see if previous work matches your style and complexity needs.
  • Check reviews and references to confirm quality craftsmanship and service.
  • Get quotes from 3-4 upholsterers to compare pricing and offerings.
  • For complete refits, work with a designer on a full interior decor plan.

Going with the cheapest option often leads to disappointment. Experienced marine upholsterers are worth the investment.

Also read about the cost of reupholstering a car, a couch, and a chair.

DIY Boat Upholstery 101

Boat upholstery repairWant to save on labor costs by tackling basic upholstery projects yourself? Here’s a quick primer on the skills and materials needed:

Supplies Needed

  • Upholstery hand tools – Knives, scissors, pliers, hooks, stapler
  • Sewing machine and supplies – Thread, needles, scissors, pins
  • Foam cutter – Electric knife or serrated edge tool
  • Vinyl or fabric – At least 20% more than measurements
  • Fasteners – Snaps, velcro, zippers, grommets as needed


  • Taking accurate measurements
  • Pattern making
  • Cutting fabric and foam neatly
  • Sewing straight and secure seams
  • Attaching fasteners and hardware cleanly

Watch online tutorials to learn techniques before attempting cushions or helm seat covers. Consider practicing first on cheaper vinyl. Precision work is required for clean, durable results.

Caring for Boat Upholstery

Proper routine care keeps your boat’s upholstery looking fresh and maximizes its lifespan:

  • Vinyls – Wash with mild detergent. Use vinyl cleaners and protectants regularly.
  • Fabrics – Vacuum frequently. Spot clean stains quickly. Most can be removed and washed or steam cleaned occasionally.
  • Leather – Clean with a leather cleaner 1-2 times per month. Condition frequently with a leather protector.
  • All types – Immediately fix any loose stitching to avoid bigger problems.

And be sure to:

  • Avoid excessive sun exposure by using sunbrella covers when not in use.
  • Check for signs of wear, damage, or deterioration at least annually.
  • Thoroughly clean upholstery at the start and end of each boating season.

Following manufacturer care guidelines closely extends the lifespan of your upholstery and protects your investment.

Final Words

Choosing the right materials for your climate and boating needs, proper installation, and caring for upholstery will provide many years of enhanced experiences aboard your boat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth reupholstering a boat?

Reupholstering a boat is usually worth the investment, as worn-out upholstery can detract from functionality and enjoyment on board. It also protects the underlying framework from water damage. Higher quality materials and professional installation provide long-lasting results.

Can I reupholster my own boat?

With some DIY skills and the right tools and materials, simple upholstery projects like seat cushions and headrests can be managed by boat owners.

More complex jobs involving intricate shapes, headliners, and custom details are best left to experienced marine upholsterers. Start small to evaluate your abilities.

What is the most expensive part of owning a boat?

While the initial purchase price is steep, ongoing maintenance and repairs make up the most costly part of boat ownership. Two major expenses are proper winter storage and repowering the engine every 2000 hours or so.

Upholstery repair and replacement is another significant recurring cost to maintain comfort and functionality.

4 replies
  1. Victoria Addington
    Victoria Addington says:

    My grandpa wants to visit the lake with the family, which is why I’m thinking of getting the boat fixed before using it. Since the upholstery is worn out for some reason, it’s great that you provided the average cost of repair which is around $55 per hour to $150 or more. Hopefully, I can find a boat upholstery service nearby.

  2. Robert Hogward
    Robert Hogward says:

    If there are any damages present due to mildew, UV rays, or the elements, this also adds up to the total expenses. After all, the professional upholstery service may need to refurbish the seat first before proceeding with it. Either that or you can take care of the damage yourself, which should require a vinyl repair kit. :)

  3. Lakin Zoe
    Lakin Zoe says:

    Great article. These guides are very useful for me. I have done a project about reupholstering boat seats. It’s very easy, and my boat has a new seat.

  4. Lakin Zoe
    Lakin Zoe says:

    If your boat seats are still comfortable despite slight damage, you may purchase a repair kit containing restorative supplies. When the need arises, you may conduct boat reupholstering.


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