How to Replace a Boat Carpet – Easy Step by Step Guide


Everything withers eventually, and your boat carpet is no different. With time it will thin out and lose its color. When this happens, you have two options. You can try to clean your boat carpet and hope that will do the trick, or you can replace it entirely and give your boat a new fresh look.

There are two main reasons why boat owners decide to replace their carpets. The first and most obvious reason is to add value to their investment. You never know what life will throw at you, and you might be forced to sell your boat to cover expenses. By having a nice clean carpet, you can increase its value and demand more money.

The second reason is to improve the boat’s appearance and make yourself feel good about your boat. Being on a clean boat is by far more satisfying and will improve your boating experience.

Whatever reason motivates this desire to change, you need to know that it could be disastrous if you get things wrong the first time around. This guide was designed to help you confront that eventuality. It’ll equip you with everything you need to know to face the boat carpet replacement challenge head-on.

How to Prepare for Boat Carpet Replacement

Replacing your boat carpet starts with shopping. And you can’t just walk into the store with no background knowledge. You need to know what carped to buy, which color will be the best choice and which glue you should use. If you know all that, you have done 25% of the work.

Chose Heavier Boat Carpet

When choosing a boat carpet, the general rule of thumb is heavy is always better. The quality of a particular carpet can be summed up by the number of fibers it has. The heavier carpet has denser and more durable fibers than the lighter ones. They will last longer and will remain presentable long after the lighter ones lose their color and texture.

I recommend going with carpets that are 16oz or heavier. Anything lesser might be just a colossal waste of money.

Choosing the Right Color

This isn’t too important if you aren’t too hung up on aesthetics. But if you are all about appearances, then take your time with this process. Try choosing something that goes well with the seats or decals on your boat. Picking the darker color might look better now, but it might not look good after the color wades away under the Sun. On the other hand, lighter colors don’t fade as much but are less attractive and easily get dirty.

Choosing the Right Glue for Your Boat’s Deck

The glue you decide to use is just as important as the carpet itself, and you always want to go with water-based glues. Alcohol-based glues work fine too, but they tend not to last as long as the water-based stuff. If you are unsure which one you should use, Henry’s exterior carpet adhesive is a safe choice. It could be a bit messy to work with, but it adheres fast and will hold for a long time. It’s best not to use it on a hot day; keep it away from the Sun.

Henry, W.W. Co. 12185 12185 GAL #663 Carp Adhesive Beige, Gallon
  • Duo Inlet With 1/2-" Solder And Mip Threaded
  • Package length: 7.6"
  • Package Width: 7.6"

Remove the Old Boat Carpet

The first thing you need to do is remove all the furniture and removable objects off the boat’s deck. Then inspect the edges of the carpet to make sure everything is in order. If everything looks good, get a knife and start to pry the carpet from the deck at one edge and work your way to the other edge.

If the process proves too difficult, cut the used carpets into smaller squares to ease the removal process. When you are done, try to inspect the entire deck for stray patches and remove them. Clean the entire deck with acetone to get rid of the remnant of the old adhesive or glue. If any patch proves too difficult, use the glue scraper but try not to be too harsh as the glue remover can damage the deck floor.

Your carpet will age out and fade eventually. It doesn’t matter how well you take care of your boat. The only way to slow down the process is by making sure you get the best materials the next time you change your carpeting.

Map Out The Boat’s Deck

This might be one of the most complicated parts of the process. It involves mapping out the deck so that you can cut and apply the carpet hitch-free.

When you are changing your boat carpet, you don’t want to cut it after applying the adhesive. It will prove difficult to reinstall the furniture or other objects you might have ignored earlier on.

To correctly and safely map out the deck to prepare for the carpeting process, get lots of tapes, paper, a pen, and a small knife. Start the mapping process by inspecting the deck and observing all the visible edges. Apply the tape all these edges face up so that the adhesive side is what you can see.

Make sure you jot down all the measurements even though you are making a cutting map. Bend and curve the tape to accommodate all the furniture and features that might need to be installed much later.

After mapping the entire deck correctly, lay the paper on the adhesive side of the tape and then lay another layer to hold it in place. When you have safely secured the boat’s entire shape from the tapes, transport the paper carpet to a flat surface.

Cut the Boat Carpet

Cutting the carpet is admittedly a sensitive part of the entire process. Contrary to popular belief, there is much room for error here, provided you bought enough carpeting.

To start, spread the carpet on a flat surface, then lay the paper map on it. Proceed to cut the carpet according to the map laid out by the paper. Make sure you add a little extra here and there when you are cutting the carpet. If the measurements say 3 feet, try to add a quarter of a foot just if something goes wrong. When you have cut the entire carpet using the paper guidelines and the measurements, proceed to go over the entire carpet measurements again.

Apply the Adhesive to the Deck

When shopping for adhesive, it’s always better to buy too much than too little. Two tubs should be enough for a fairly large boat, but a little extra is always advised. The only thing you need during this process is a good brush.

Before you start, clean the deck with a little acetone again to ensure everything is clean and that adhesive will hold for a long time. With the brush, apply the glue evenly across the entire deck. Make sure that the glue is even across the entire surface. When it is not even, some of the carpets might not stick to the deck.

Install New Boat Carpet

This is by far the easiest part of the entire process. All you need to do is lay the carpet on the adhesive after letting it dry out for a bit. After laying the carpet, quickly trim the excess carpeting before the glue sets in. When everything is to your liking, take a walk on the carpet and make sure you add a little weight to it. This ensures that the adhesive sticks properly to the carpet. After thirty minutes, the glue should have dried completely. You can start moving all the furniture back to where they belong without any worries.

If you are a handy person, replacing your boat’s carpet should not be difficult to do. Just follow the steps described above and take your time. And if you don’t feel confident in your skills, you can always hire someone to replace your carpet; make sure whoever you hire is qualified and can provide you a warranty.

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