How to Pick the Best Marine Vinyl Fabric

There’s a lot to look out for when shopping for marine vinyl fabric! Anyone who’s spent time on a boat knows how valuable the upholstered seating can be. Hours outside in the sun, riding the waves makes you walk to sit down with a cocktail or lay down for an afternoon nap. 

The wear and tear of a textile can occur from a lack of care or coverage, but it’s often the material itself that wasn’t designed to withstand the elements of being on the water. 

Nothing’s worse than needing a little rest during your day on the water only to find the seating upholstery is torn, cracked, and rough from being weathered. Have you ever had this experience on a boat? 

If you’ve encountered marine upholstery in rough shape, you have an appreciation for a marine vinyl fabric that can stand up to water, sun, and extensive use. Low-quality upholstery leads to cracking, which will open the upholstered item up to mold and further structural issues.  

You can tell when a boat owner takes pride in caring for their boat. 

They rinse everything off when the season ends, cover any exposed areas and take the time to select a quality marine vinyl fabric for their upholstered seating. 

Choosing a quality marine textile from the get-go can save you a lot of time and money down the road. We have some tips to help you get started just in time to reupholster before boating season begins!

High-Quality Materials

You might be asking yourself, what makes marine vinyl fabric so special? Every textile is made up of different materials, and while they may be beautiful to look at, not all textiles perform the same. Materials can be woven with antimicrobial thread or treated with a water-resistant coating. 

Many of these advancements in textiles are not visible to the naked eye. This is why we encourage our clients to familiarize themselves with a material’s specifications. There was never a better time not to judge a book by its cover! Just because a material looks nice or appears sturdy does not mean you should overlook the product’s specifications. 

Having a material that will look nice and hold up around water and sunshine is what every boat owner needs! For example, we enjoy leather upholstery as much as the next person, but we wouldn’t put it on our boat. Leather might look great at first, but over time it would darken and harden and crack due to moisture penetrating the material over time.

How Does Marine Vinyl Fabric Hold Up Over Time?

  • Water-Resistant – This vinyl is designed with a barrier preventing moisture from penetrating through the material. Water will gather on top of the textile and easily wipe away or dry in the sun. 
  • Fade Resistant – Nothing fades pigment in furniture or textiles as fast as direct sunlight. Have you ever heard of the phrase sun bleached? This phrase is commonly used to describe items left outside (often outdoor furniture) that are lightened over time by the harsh, direct light. Your boat’s upholstery is also at risk of being sun-bleached if the material is not designed to be fade-resistant.  
  • Bacteria & Mildew Resistant – Even when a material is upholstered well, moisture can sometimes make its way in through the seams. When a textile is resistant to bacteria and mildew, it can protect the integrity of the upholstery from the inside out. This means that even if some moisture gets into the upholstered item, the textile can help prevent mold growth within the foam or filling. 
  • Stain Resistant – Boats are frequently used for entertaining, so it’s essential to select a stain-resistant material. Nobody wants food or drink stains ruining their gorgeous marine vinyl! Any spills will be able to wipe off without leaving a trace. 
  • Performance Grade – Any high traffic seating should be upholstered in a performance grade material. Performance grade fabrics are favored in hotels, restaurants, and bars in hospitality environments. Whether you’re adding upholstery to a speed boat where passengers bounce up and down or a yacht where you host large dinner parties, performance-grade fabrics will not pool or stretch easily, leaving your upholstery looking brand new. 

Style & Design of Marine Vinyl Fabric

It can be challenging to pinpoint what’s trending in the world of marine vinyl fabric, so we pulled a few of our favorite options for you to browse. If you’re here looking for something outside of the factory-standard gray or tan, there are a few fun ways to add visual interest to your boat!

  • Soothing Blue – Whether you’re on a lake or in the ocean, this crystal blue textile will provide that island vacation feeling we all crave. This color will blend right in if you’re taking a boat out in the Caribbean. 
  • Bright White – We’ve all seen white upholstery on a boat, but when was the last time you saw faux ostrich? The white version of this material is a luxurious twist on a generic color choice. 
  • Just Peachy – Neutral tones have been trending in the interior design world for a few years now, so why not take it to the water? This sand-colored textile would make the perfect neutral addition. The orangey hue will contrast beautifully to blue water!
  • Green Texture – There aren’t many patterns or texture options when it comes to marine vinyl upholstery, so we immediately gravitated towards this green option. The material reminds us of high-end outdoor lounge furniture, and that’s exactly what every boat needs! In a world where everyone has dull boat colors, we’re excited at the idea of custom-looking upholstery!
  • Soft Black –  We can’t help but throw in a deep dark hue for contrast. If there’s a chance your boat is white, and you’re not afraid of dark colors, this black vinyl will be a gorgeous addition. 

After browsing through our picks are you still aren’t sure which material would work best for your project, check out Kovi’s marine vinyl fabric library. You can sort your textile options by color or texture in order to find the perfect upholstery option for your boat project.

Marine Vinyl Fabric Q & A

Question: Are there marine fabric options that have patterns?

Answer: Yes, there are! There are plenty of marine fabric options with patterns out there. These materials are more difficult to come by in the world of vinyl materials. We frequently recommend vinyl because of how well it holds up over time. 

Question: I just bought a boat and would like to update the upholstery. How do I find someone to do this?

Answer: We recommend contacting a local upholstery company. If there is a business in your area specializing in car, plane, or boat upholstery, reach out to them first. You’ll be surprised to learn how many talented upholsterers are right in your own backyard!

Question: What is the difference between marine vinyl and standard vinyl? 

Answer: Standard vinyl can vary a lot. Some vinyl is made to mimic real leather, while others are designed to perform in healthcare environments. Because marine vinyl is prone to wear and tear over time, it tends to have more testing and treatment to ensure it can withstand being outdoors. Both options work well, and we always encourage you to read the material’s specifications before purchasing. Just because vinyl is pretty doesn’t mean it will hold up on your yacht at sea. Although, if you have a yacht at sea, updating the upholstery might not be your biggest concern. 

Question: How do I care for my new marine vinyl upholstery? I want it to withstand the test of time!

Answer: Covering your boat or seating when not in use will help your upholstery hold up over time. Even if your boat is parked in a covered slip or stored in a garage, keep the upholstered areas covered, and it will help preserve the vinyl material.

Weatherproof Vinyl 

Shopping for boating upholstery can feel like an ultra-specific task which is why the team at Kovi is here to help! 

We hope our tips above make the marine vinyl fabric sourcing process a bit easier. If you ever have questions about our textiles or need guidance in selecting a material that matches your design aesthetic, feel free to contact us or visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on our website. 

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