How Much Vinyl Stretch Is Right for My Project?

Item # X-HT-300403

When it comes to seating or upholstery vinyl, there are many options to choose from. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all choice when it comes to these products — some are better suited for certain projects than others. One key feature to look for in a seating vinyl is the stretch factor. Here at Sailrite®, we carry vinyl fabrics with very little stretch, complete 360° 4-way stretch capabilities, and 4-way stretch. Join us as we explain the benefits and limitations of each of these vinyl products.

Our vinyl selection.

360° 4-Way Stretch

Seats on motorcycles, jet skis, snowmobiles and ATVs have curves, unique contours and they taper in specific places. So when it’s time to upholster a project like this, you really only have one option — a vinyl with 100% stretch capabilities in all directions to perfectly match these dimensions without sagging. Morbern® Allsport 360° 4-Way Stretch Vinyl is the only vinyl option you should consider if you need to upholster seats with a lot of shape, curve or contour, and we’ll explain why.

Designed specifically for these types of projects, Morbern Allsport 360° 4-Way Stretch upholstery vinyl is extremely stretchy, pliable, durable and easy to clean. This true 360° 4-way stretch vinyl is capable of stretching enough to perfectly conform to personal watercraft seats, jet skis, motorcycle, ATV and dining room seats with little to no sewing needed. Instead, this material is intended to be pulled into place and then stapled to best utilize its stretch capabilities. Because of this, it’s not recommended for use on boat seats, box cushions or construction projects that require a lot of sewing, as its abundant stretchiness may lead to a saggy, ill-fitting appearance.

Allsport at a glance:

  • Complete 360° 4-way stretch in all directions
  • Sporty colors and a shiny finish
  • Intended to be pulled and stapled around contours and curves
  • Best for motorcycle, ATV, PWC, snowmobile, dining room and office seats
Teal and white Naugahyde boat cushion

Allsport perfectly conforms to your jet ski seat.

Non-4-Way Stretch

When you’re crafting something like a box cushion, you don’t need the stretch capabilities found in Morbern Allsport, simply because there aren’t any tight corners or contours to contend with. In fact, using a 4-way stretch vinyl can be a detriment to your project, in this situation. The excess stretch can leave your box cushion looking saggy and misshapen after it’s been sat on, often leaving unsightly wrinkles. A project like a box cushion requires the stiffness and dimensional stability of a non-4-way stretch vinyl in order to be covered and shaped adequately.

Here at Sailrite, we offer several types of vinyl fabrics that meet this criteria. Consider fabrics like Naugahyde® All American and Universal, as well as Morbern® Sanibel, Seabrook, Sundance, Hexx and Shock. For commercial applications, such as a commercial fishing vessel, a construction vinyl like Naugahyde All American or Universal is the only practical option to consider. These products do not have the stretch capabilities of Allsport and are intended to be shaped during sewing for a firm, structured look.

Naugahyde All American and Universal are solid colored vinyl products with a substantial thickness for great durability. You’ll also find an array of solid colors, some bold and some more subdued, in the collections of Morbern Sanibel, Seabrook and Sundance. But Morbern Hexx and Shock are both uniquely textured types of vinyl with a metallic finish for a bold, sporty look. You can get inspired by checking out our unique use of Morbern fabrics in our blog, “How to Reupholster a Golf Cart Seat” (300216XHT).

Morbern and Naugahyde at a glance:

  • Available in a variety of colors, styles and finishes
  • Minimal stretch and intended to be sewn and shaped to a project
  • Great for high traffic locations, commercial fishing boat seats, box cushions, golf cart seats, RV interiors and exterior cushions
Teal and white Naugahyde boat cushion

Naugahyde Universal and Morbern Seabrook make for fantastic automotive seats.

4-Way Stretch

What exactly is a four-way stretch vinyl? Well, as the name suggests, this vinyl has the capability to stretch in four directions when pulled. This makes it great for conforming around corners, curves and contours and keeping its shape without sagging or wrinkling. It looks excellent if it is pulled and stapled in place as opposed to being sewn, but this can also be done when needed. Vinyl with a four-way stretch capability has a special formulation and a stretchy backing to help it excel in a variety of applications.

Morbern® Bayside is a high-quality upholstery vinyl that has some stretch, but not as much as Morbern Allsport 360° 4-Way Stretch Vinyl. At the same time, it's not as stretch resistant as traditional construction vinyl, such as Naugahyde All American or Universal. With Bayside, you have the ability to add some construction stitching to it when needed in order to help shape your project. This mixture of properties makes Morbern Bayside a practical choice for golf cart seats, jet boat seats, speed boat and yacht interiors, dining room seat cushions and projects that require a mix of both stretch and construction vinyl properties. Bayside can be sewn to an application or stapled and pulled to provide shape and remove wrinkles. Available in a number of neutral colors, this unique vinyl fabric complements any design scheme. Plus its slightly textured appearance and matte (shine-free) finish makes for an intriguing, yet incredibly durable fabric.

We also offer Sunbrella® Horizon engineered synthetic leather (ESL) and EverSoft Indoor/Outdoor vinyl if you're looking for a soft, sleek four-way stretch vinyl. Sunbrella Horizon features a best-in-industry five-year limited product warranty and a three-year warranty against microbial pinking. Use Sunbrella Horizon for marine, home, RV and outdoor living upholstery and cushions. EverSoft has a Nanocide™ Silver Ion Antimicrobial Agent formulation that enables it to withstand harsh conditions, preventing the growth of mold and mildew, while the proprietary Blockade™ special finish ensures years of abrasion and UV resistance. EverSoft is an excellent fabric for marine cushions, patio cushions, home décor and upholstery, and RV/auto upholstery. Its grain most closely resembles that of real leather.

Bayside, Horizon & EverSoft at a glance:

  • Mix between 360° 4-way stretch and non-4-way stretch vinyl, called 4-way stretch
  • Can be both stapled and sewn to an application
  • Available in a selection of rich colors and grain patterns
Bayside

Morbern Bayside on a contemporary chair. Photo provided by Morbern Inc.

Vinyl From Sailrite

What qualities do you look for in a vinyl seating fabric? Do you have any favorites? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’re ever confused about which product is best for your next DIY, feel free to contact our experienced customer service department. Our representatives are available via phone, email or the chat function on our website, and would be happy to assist you. If you’d like to experience these fabrics in person before buying multiple yards, you can also easily order samples on our website — for more information on this process, visit the blog “Fabric Swatches & Swatch Books From Sailrite” (300368XHT).

Footnote: This blog was updated in December 2019 to include Sunbrella Horizon and EverSoft.