The art of furnishing chairs with cushions, springs, stitching, and durable fabric or leather upholstery is called boat upholstery. Boat upholstering generally consists of doing the work on a boat like a yacht to those who live on boats. The term boat is used to refer to both types of vessels that can be out at sea. One type is a pleasure craft and the other is a fishing boat.

To perform the task of boat upholstery, different types of seating materials are used. Typically, if it is a passenger boat, an ottoman or bench seat cushion would be used. If it is an extra wide boat, such as a bass boat, several individual benches placed strategically along the hull would be useful. For comfort, extra padding of foam, leather, or vinyl might be advisable.

When preparing to set sail, it is best to use lightweight marine fabrics, such as twill, canvas, cotton duck, fleece, and denim for boat upholstery because these fabrics move less than synthetic materials, which are heavier. A heavy-duty, hard-wearing fabric like twill needs a sturdy base that is waterproof when placed over a plywood or metal deck. Furthermore, heavy fabrics wear out faster after being exposed to the elements, especially in saltwater. Heavy fabrics also wear out more quickly when exposed to sun, wind, and UV light. It is best to choose fabrics for boat upholstery that are specifically designed for marine use.

Seats for boat upholstery are available in different sizes and heights. It is best to select a seat that is the right size and height for the people who will be seated on it. There are specialized stitched fabrics available in different colors and styles that may be used for this purpose. In addition to seat size and style, one should also consider the type of stitching the fabric has: straight stitching, zigzag stitching, or cross stitching. Each of these stitching options will provide the user with a different feel and look.

The primary fabric that is most often used for boat upholstery is marine plywood. Plywood is often applied on top of a balsa wood base to create a sturdy, protective cover. A variety of different colors and textures can be incorporated into marine plywood in order to achieve the desired look. Often times, using different textures for different parts of the boat upholstery piece will provide a more uniform appearance.

Another option for boat upholstery is marine vinyl. Marine vinyl consists of rubber, resin, or a combination of both. This material is durable and versatile, and can be used to protect furniture, appliances, seats, and much more. While it cannot be used as a actual boat upholstery, many consumers find that marine vinyls offer a more natural looking, stain-resistant, and easy to care for alternative.

If a consumer prefers a more natural, raw appearance, he or she may prefer to use an individual piece of marine plywood to create their new boat upholstery vinyl. This method can require a bit more work, but often results in a more unique final product. One thing to keep in mind when using individual pieces of plywood is that they will likely end up lighter in weight than their glued counterparts. This added weight can be easily managed by applying a light coat of stain or paint to the item. Most boat upholstery vinyl will contain an adhesive, but a skilled craftsman may be able to add additional adhesives to custom order pieces.

Boat upholstered fabrics are generally strong enough to withstand the occasional pulling and tearing of a crafty friend, but most manufacturers recommend against placing any kind of weight on the piece itself. For example, a friend could toss his or her boat into the water and could cause the fabric to rip apart, which could happen if the item is not properly stitched together. While most boat upholstery fabrics do not have any protective padding built in, most manufacturers do place a recommended weight limit on each item. This is important for obvious reasons, but it is also true that most upholstered items are not made to handle the added strain of being pulled around in a moving boat.