How to Select a Boat Headliner Material

Item # X-HT-300174
Different types of boat headliner material to choose from include vinyl, carpet and foam-backed vinyl.

The headliner in your boat’s cabin can make a big impact on the look and feel of the space. Removing and replacing old, worn out headliner can also greatly increase the brightness below deck. If you’re thinking of replacing the headliner in your cabin, you’ll want to look at the three most popular material options: carpet, foam-backed vinyl and regular marine vinyl. All of these materials have their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s up to you to decide which is best suited for your boat. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each headliner material.

Carpet Style Headliner

Carpet-style headliner installed in a powerboat cabin

A popular, easy-to-install option for marine headliner is a carpet-style material. At Sailrite, we carry HullBlanket headliner and hull liner. It’s a polypropylene carpet designed for marine use. It’s durable and stain-, mold- and mildew-resistant. Carpet headliner cuts without fraying and is the most forgiving material to install. The ends can easily be butted up against each other without creating obvious seams and imperfections in the fiberglass are easily hidden with carpet headliner. It’s also the material that is the most shape conforming. You can stretch and contract this fabric easily to work around curves and bends. If your hull is very shapely, we recommend choosing a carpet style headliner. Learn more about the installation process for this headliner in our how to install carpet-style headliner video.

Foam-Backed Vinyl Headliner

Foam-backed vinyl headliner installed in a boat berth

Foam-backed vinyl headliner features a marine vinyl front with a foam backing. At Sailrite, our foam-backed vinyl features a 3/16-inch foam flame-adhered to Morbern Seabrook Vinyl. The foam adds a bit of cushion and helps to conceal small imperfections in the hull. It can also be cut away to accommodate protrusions like nuts and bolt heads. Vinyl headliner creates a smooth appearance and is easily wiped clean. However, the edges of foam-backed vinyl headliner should be covered, as they will leave a visible seam. Because of this, foam-backed vinyl headliner is a great choice for applications where the seams will be hidden under trim pieces or where the material is wrapped around panels. Watch the installation process in our video, “How to Install Foam Backed Headliner.”

Vinyl Headliner

Nauga Soft Vinyl installed as a headliner in a sailboat.

Marine vinyl by itself can also be used as a headliner. We specifically recommend Naugahyde Nauga Soft vinyl. This vinyl has a napped jersey knit fabric backing which holds the spray glue well to securely adhere to your hull with no bubbling or gaps. Like the foam-backed vinyl, Nauga Soft is easy to clean but will have seams that require covering. We recommend the use of marine vinyl as a headliner for applications where the material is wrapped around panels. To see how to use vinyl as a headliner, check out our blog "Installing Vinyl Nauga Soft as a Headliner" (200317XHT).

Don’t be afraid to use a combination of the three types of headliners for different areas in your boat. For example, in our Project Powerboat, we used carpet for the main cabin ceiling but chose to use a foam-backed vinyl in the aft cabin. It’s up to you to decide how you use your boat and what look you’re going for. When you’re ready to start your project, you can find all these headliner options right here at Sailrite.