How to Reupholster the Backrest in a Boat Cabin

Item # X-HT-300115

On board our Powerboat Makeover project, a 1982 Regal 245 XL Ambassador, the whole cabin needed a makeover. In the forward berth we replaced the old, dark headliner, the flooring and all the cushions for the berth and the adjacent storage bench. Along the hull in the forward cabin are long backrests on both the port and starboard sides that needed to be reupholstered, too. We broke down the upholstery process of those backrests in this step-by-step video.

Before and after of our reupholstered backrest

For our backrests, we chose to reuse the existing foam and just added a little extra softness by attaching a layer of 1/4-inch Sew Foam with fabric backing. If your foam isn’t worth saving, you can pattern new foam. We usually recommend using polyurethane foam for backrests like this because it will stay soft for longer than other polyester foams.

We continued the same fabric we used on the cushions on the backrest. We sell a variety of fabrics that are great for boat cabin interiors. In the video, Cindi, our upholsterer, explains how she selects a pattern to display on the backrest and how to seam fabric panels together to create a continuous motif across the entire backrest.

In this video you will learn how to add extra foam padding to your backrest, cut and sew decorative fabric, and staple the fabric in place.

Video Chapters:

  • Stapling Padding Foam – 0:38 min.
  • Cutting & Sewing Decorative Fabric – 1:59 min.
  • Stapling Fabric in Place – 5:14 min.
  • Materials List – 10:51 min.

Materials List:

  • Fabric Backed Sew Foam Foam 1/4" #121506
  • Marine Upholstery Fabric
  • V-69 Polyester Thread (we used Derby Navy #103795)
  • Sailrite® 21 Gauge 1/2" (12mm) Staples 10,000/Box (Stainless) #8012SS

Tools List:

  • Sailrite® Long Nose Upholstery Staple Gun #121411
  • Gingher® Scissors Right Handed #19104
  • Tape Measure #102986
  • Clear Acrylic Ruler #102400
  • Fabric Marking Pencil Yellow #111002
  • Sailrite® Canvas Patterning Ruler #107040
  • Multiuse Pins #102985
  • Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LS-1 PLUS Walking Foot Sewing Machine #300502