Making Waves Against Water And Wear With Marine Upholstery Fabrics

You may have noticed a theme at most marinas: plain ol’ vanilla or sea blue canvas for boat covers and various shades of vinyl for seats and other marine upholstery. Being out on the water is no vanilla experience, so why should the upholstery be?

There’s no longer a need to settle for the same ole same ole when it comes time to reupholster your boat.

Yes, marine upholstery needs to be able to handle water and wear — and lots of it. Whether your boat or personal watercraft spends most of its time in the slip or cutting through the waves, it’s constantly pummeled by wind, rain, sun, and all the other elements that any given year can throw at it.

But guess what else has to be up to that task? Motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs, not to mention porch and patio furniture, and more. This is great news. Marine upholstery fabric was once just that, upholstery fabric for marine purposes only. But as technology has changed over the years, so has the vision of the upholstery industry.

With the myriad of applications marine upholstery is now tasked with, you have more options than ever. Today we’ll make some waves (so to speak) against water and wear. AND make waves against bland and boring.

Best Marine Upholstery Types For Water And Wear

Whether strictly for marine use or for other outdoor uses, there are some fabric stressors you can 100% count on:

  • Water
  • Stains
  • Mildew
  • Mold
  • Bacteria
  • Sun

There are more, of course. But these things ARE for sure going to impact your upholstery. So what types of fabrics are tough enough to stand up to such a consistent plethora of challenges?

The two primary fabric types our customers look for, and count on are still, in fact, canvas and vinyl. And our customers are completely correct.

Because what’s old and awesome about canvas and vinyl that’s made them reliable go-to’s for marine and other outdoor upholstery remains the same. What’s new and next level about today’s canvas and vinyl is technology has liberated the style possibilities without sacrificing functionality.

Canvas brings the feel of fabric but with the toughness of its dense, tight weave. It’s built to weather the pricks and pokes of life on the water and the weather that comes with it. Vinyl, with its fully non-porous construction, is — at its core — impervious to stains and armored against all but the most determined puncture or tear.

Marine canvases now aren’t just tight, heavy-duty weaves. Before the weave even gets started, the fibers themselves are built from a variety of powerful protectors. Solution-dyed acrylics, for one, ensure the colors are literally built into the material, minimizing fading from the sun.

And treatments like Sunbrella or Crypton start at the fiber creation level as well, maximizing stain protection, bacteria, mold and mildew resistance, and water resistance.

Bottom line: Canvases are tougher and lower maintenance than ever.

Vinyl has always been great at withstanding weather, stains, punctures, or tears. Now it’s often made to also have enhanced antimicrobial properties as well, making it easier than ever to clean — what you can and can’t see. And advances in technology have opened a whole new world of vinyl upholstery texture and style (more on that just ahead)

Performance And Style: Your Next-Level Boat Upholstery

Now you know a bit about how far the marine upholstery go-to’s have come, let’s get to why it matters to you. The days of marine upholstery being a styleless commodity are over. For your floating happy place, you get to think bigger than the vanilla or sea blue of your neighbor’s boat.

Here’s a spin through a few different looks to get the gears turning:


We’ve kidded about the blandness that often consumes the marine upholstery space. But we totally get the appeal of a clean, tight, traditional look. How about just punching it up a notch with a two-tone approach? Try a rich burgundy (K8862 Garnet) and off-white (K8863 Bone). Both offer the texture of leather grain but the durability of vinyl including bacteria & mildew resistance.

Or lean into that fabric feel with a solution-dyed acrylic giving you the added protection of fade resistance. Take traditional blue up a notch with a classic stripe pattern in Ocean Blue like our performance grade K2303 Ocean.

Whether you’re reupholstering your own vessel or refreshing and reinventing a customer’s dreamboat, keep it classic while arming it with today’s fabric technology and style.


Want to feel like every time you get on board you get away? Whether you’re heading for the open sea or sipping wine in the slip, your upholstery can help with the journey.

Getaway, right away with bold and bright vinyl, like our K9196 Aquamarine. It’s heavy-duty, performance grade, and complete with all the other performance perks of vinyl. Plus, it immediately brings a bright, tropical vibe that just begs for lounging with a margarita in hand. Quick-tip: take it up another notch with white or off-white piping — talk about popping!

Or go full-on tropical with one of our bestselling performance-grade acrylic fabrics like OASIS. It’s perfect for creating that getaway feeling any day of the week. Though — fair warning — you may feel an irresistible need to add an on-deck hammock.


No need to leave your love of style on land. Love a contemporary, bold look? Be the talk of the marina with the most dazzling space around. Try the spectacularly vibrant Tiger Lily vinyl and bring on the WOW. And it puts the heavy in heavy-duty, coming in at a whopping 600,000 Wyzenbeek Rubs rating.

You can also go with the neutral trend with just a bit of texture and tone. Check out our Sand performance woven acrylic. This one’s especially ideal for interior cabins. It creates a calming tone that provides a wonderful canvas against which to add pops of color and personality through accessories and accent pieces. Flexibility, functionality, and room for style swagger.

Time To Take Your Upholstery Dream Out On The Water

The goal today was to inspire. We’ve explored some of the ways the technology that goes into making the old marine upholstery standbys like canvas and vinyl has come a crazy long way. Now it’s time for you to elevate the marina.
There are so many ways to make sure whatever fabric you choose can do what you NEED it to do. Which frees you to play and dream and build what you truly WANT.

So dream a little dream. Whether for a personal upholstery project or to blow the mind of a customer whose dream you’re serving, go ahead and dream bigger.

And then give us a call. We’ll help you find the upholstery fabric that performs the way you need it to AND inspires the way you’d LOVE it to as well.

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