Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | April 8, 2013

Interior reupholstering stage 1

Since we bought the boat last July I have wanted to reupholster the interior settee cushions. They were in ok shape but had some water stains and the foam was starting to breakdown. But we had a few leaks (as all boats do) that had to be tracked down and fixed. So hubby set out to do that and accomplished it just recently. My opportunity was at hand to get those cushions started. I have never done this kind of thing before and decided to start with the cushion backs. As you can see, the original cushions covered the whole back of the settee.

They were also very difficult to remove to get to the storage behind them due to industrial strength Velcro, so I tended not to utilize that storage space.
I started by looking on You Tube for various techniques to recover the backs. I found a couple that showed the basics so I felt pretty confident that I could tackle the project. I needed some basic tools and supplies to get started like paint supplies, scissors, batting, staple gun, pencil, yard stick and so on.
The first task that needed to be done was to paint the wood of the settees so they needed to be vacuumed and the wood cleaned and prepped. The Velcro that was on the the wood was a plastic backed type that was screwed into the wood. So I removed all of the strips and sanded the holes a bit. After vacuuming I then washed it down with Clorox Clean Up and let it dry. I then had to spackle all of the screw holes and let them dry. I gave them another light sanding, vacuumed the dust and taped off the settee for painting. I used Kilz latex white to paint the surface because it retards mold/mildew growth and covers stains well.

Prior to all of this hubby had measured and cut new plywood for the cushion backs. Once the wood was cut and sealed I was able to take the foam from the old cushions, as it was still in good shape, and cut out the smaller size using the new wood as a template.

I used my electric knife, you know the kind you use on your Christmas turkey.

One all the foam was cut I needed to adhere the foam to the wood, so I used 3M rubber adhesive that I purchased at Home Depot. I sprayed both the foam and the wood and let both sit for 4 minutes then applied the 2 sticky surfaces together.

I then wrapped the cushion with batting and using a staple gun attached it to the wood. This step smoothes out the edges of the cushion.


Once all of the cushions were covered in batting, I then measured the fabric and cut out the rectangles. Using the staple gun ( I recommend Powershot Pro which is an electric one) I stapled the fabric on each side. The corners are the tricky part, it took a few techniques but I finally got them looking uniform and nice. I found that it is easiest to staple the short sides first pulling the corners ends up and taut then stapling it in place.

Then folding the fabric inward like this:

Then finally bringing the flap of fabric over the folds ending with something that looks like this:

Once you have the corner technique down it really is easy and goes pretty fast. It is helpful to have a second set of hands to help out (thanks hubby!) to hold fabric taut and in place while you staple.
When I finished all of the stapling, I then cut fabric rectangles to cover the back of the cushions and hide the staples. It gives a nice finished look and is very easy to do. I measured the cushions and added 1/2″ seam allowance all the way around. I then pinned the seam allowance and sewed the edges up folding in the corners.

I attached the finished fabric to the backs of the cushions using a hot glue gun, the one I purchased is a hybrid, it works either plugged in or on batteries which could come in handy if you are not hooked to shore power. This is what the finished cushion looks like:


I wanted these to be easy to open and close so that I would be able to access the storage easily so I had hubby put hinges on them, this way I just had to pull them down to open them with the exception of two of the cushions that open out instead of down due to the space allowed. Once the hinges were attached, hubby then measured and screwed them into the wood of the settee.


The finished project looks like this:

It really opened up the space and made the boat look bigger inside. The next project is the bottom cushions. I will be taking a class at the local adult school on upholstery to complete them. I hope to start that this week. Stay tuned for stage 2!



  1. Wow. They look great! I really love reading your blog! Thanks!

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