How To Patch A Vinyl Boat Seat – DIY Multiple Ways

Most sailboat owners prefer vinyl boat seats due to their waterproof nature and durability. But these seats are largely vulnerable to tears or cracks, thereby affecting the overall look and comfort. If you’d like to know how to patch a vinyl boat seat, here you go. 

The perfect way to patch a vinyl boat seat is to peel off the damaged location with a screwdriver, prepare a new vinyl seat material, and staple it in the peeled-off region. You need a staple gun and a new patch handy. 

For new sailboat owners, this can be a tricky task. Here’s a comprehensive guide that explains ideal ways to patch a vinyl boat seat in no time. 

Guide To Patch A Vinyl Boat Seat

Whether it’s the seam that has ripped off or the cushion top that needs refurbishment, you can still follow the guide below. 


Staple remover 

Plier set

Staple gun


Phase 1: Preparation

Before you begin working on the patched area, you need to follow a basic set of guidelines. 

  • Cleaning

To gain a thorough understanding of the affected portion, you need to clean the patch first. You can use a regular vinyl cleaner. 

Spray the cleaner on the seat and wipe it all over, cleaning the affected area. 

In this step, you should remove sticky elements attached to the seat. For instance, several boat owners tend to use stickers on seats to show their uniqueness and for aesthetic reasons. In any case, you should use a sealant remover to clean the patch entirely. 

  • Drying

Don’t work on the patch when the boat seat is wet. This can result in slips and misses. 

If your sailboat has just been docked, give it several hours to dry completely. You can then experiment with the part. 

Most importantly, don’t use towels to help seats with drying properly. We need time to make sure the seat is dry all the way through.

Phase 2: Fixing

1.Dismantling the upholstery

  • Begin with identifying the complete dimension of the patch. You can also take a picture of it to refer to at a later stage. 
  • You can also take a video of the complete set, so you don’t worry about replacing parts back at their respective places after reassembling them. 
  • Flip the cushion before you take the staples out of the damaged vinyl seat.
  • Take a staple remover and remove the upholstery that needs reassembling. 
  • Make a note of layers of upholstery and remove them slowly. 

Note: If a part of your cushion is damaged, you can remove only that part and leave the rest untouched. 

2. Preparing a new vinyl patch 

So you’ve got the damaged part in hand. The next step is to prepare a new vinyl patch that can totally replace the damaged one. 

To accomplish this replacement, you need a marine-grade vinyl fabric

Follow the steps below:

  • Place the removed patch on the new patch. 
  • Trace the outline (without deviations). 
  • Draw a line along the outline. 
  • Cut the new vinyl patch along the lines. 

Your new patch is ready. 

You need to be patient in preparing this outline. If you’ve slipped a bit, it can affect the fitting quality. 

3. Reassemble the patched area 

Right now, you’ve got a new patch to be laid. 

  • Flip the upholstery in a way that you can staple it on the back. 
  • Lay the new vinyl patch over it. 
  • Take a staple gun and staple the new fabric along the outline. 

Note: Don’t use the upholstery immediately. Inspect it after a couple of hours to confirm if it’s appropriately stapled. 

Sometimes, the reassembled area can look congested if you haven’t wrapped it appropriately. If there’re too many shrinks, you need to even it out unless you’ve got the need for it. 

If you need to know about cushions check out my other article all about boat cushions!

Easy Way To Patch A Vinyl Boat Seat

While using a staple gun and a staple remover help in fixing the damaged vinyl boat seat appropriately, most boat owners don’t have enough time. They look for the easiest solution. 

Using duct tape to patch a vinyl boat seat is the easiest, quickest, and most comfortable way for boat owners on the go. The duct tape helps in controlling the further spread of cracks, saving the seat for the time being. 

Nevertheless, using duct tape is interesting, but it doesn’t work for long. If you’re sailing and need a quick fix, you can go with duct tape. However, this isn’t the solution in the long run. You need to remove the duct tape and replace the damaged region with a marine-grade vinyl patch. 

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Vinyl Boat Seats

The average price to replace a vinyl boat seat per square yard starts from $40 and varies based on the damage, exact location, and availability of materials. If you don’t have a kit in hand, you may spend $150-$200 to fix a medium-sized patch. 

Replacing boat seats is possible, but it’s encouraged to refurbish them unless the damaged area is huge. 

While the process of replacing the patched region is easy, some boat owners still prefer taking the help of an expert. If you’re one of them, you should be prepared to spend $100-$300 according to the nature of the repair. 

Here are the average costs for repairing the upholstery of different boat seat parts. 

SpecificationCost ($)
Seat/back (24”x24”)100-150
Vinyl fabric/square yard50
Seat cushion 100-400 
Captain chair 500-650
Boat interior 120-150
Engine cover350-400
Lounge seat500-650
Bolster seat400-500

The costs are subject to variations based on replacement/refurbishment levels.

Can You Sew A Vinyl Boat Seat

Sewing a vinyl boat seat is ideal when the seam is torn. Otherwise, reassembling the patch with a staple gun is recommended. 

It’s common to observe tears in vinyl boat seats along their seam. You need to use a hand-sewing machine to stitch slowly along the seam. 

Before you begin sewing the boat seat, you should remove the remaining seam. This will allow you to stitch evenly. If you don’t have a hand-sewing machine, you can sew it with a needle and a thread. Ensure that you’ve got a sewing kit handy. 

Can You Repair A Ripped Vinyl Boat Seat

A ripped vinyl boat seat can be refurbished or repaired based on the degree of damage. Slight rips require duct tape, while moderate rips need refurbishment. Major rips require the replacement of the boat seat. 

Here’s how you can fix a tear or a rip on the vinyl boat seat:

  • Take a vinyl repair kit. 
  • Let the iron in the kit heat to the ideal temperature. (Ensure that it isn’t melting.)
  • Take out the torn material.
  • Fix the vinyl sheet over the torn region. 
  • Once it fixes, iron its top with the graining sheet. 
  • Let the patched area cool completely before you begin using it. 

The only aspect of fixing a ripped vinyl boat seat is the temperature associated with heating the damaged location. 

How To Fix A Small Tear In A Vinyl Boat Seat

The ideal way to fix a small tear is to either sew it or patch it with a new piece of vinyl boat seat. 

If you have a hand-sewing machine in place, you can fix the tear almost instantly. However, it can sometimes be challenging due to multiple vinyl layers that take more time and effort to patch.

In that case, you need to use a DIY vinyl self-repair kit

Here are a few instructions to keep in mind:

  • Clean the location prior to fixing the tear. 
  • Although it’s a small tear, you need to remove the sealant or chemicals associated with it. 
  • If you’re using liquid vinyl, allow it to cool completely. 

How To Maintain Refurbished Vinyl Boat Seats

Above refurbishing vinyl boat seats, maintaining them is of utmost importance. Maintenance majorly includes keeping the place clean, wiping the interior from potential sealants, and ensuring dryness of seats. 

It’s essential to maintain the dryness of seats even if you have an immediate sailing plan in place. When you keep the patched area dry, it avoids the entry of water into it. As a result, it gives no way for mold to form and keeps the patched area from peeling up.

Cleaning seats regularly will also help in the accumulation of dirt and debris over time. As marine-grade vinyl is prone to rapid accumulation of debris, you need to clean it regularly. Most boat owners tend to clean before and after each sailing trip. When the boat is at the docking port, it’s recommended to clean it every week. 

Final Thoughts 

Seat repairs are common events encountered by boat owners. Whether it’s a hole, a tiny tear, or a serious rip, it’s still possible to fix them with various options – duct tape, needle and thread (for sewing needs), a vinyl patch kit, and a staple gun. 

Based on the intensity of the repair, you need to engage a third-party expert in fixing the seat. When the cushion is entirely ripped off in addition to other components, it’s ideal for engaging an expert to fix them in one go. 


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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