Interior upholstery - best material?

Ammonite

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I want to replace 6 back cushions (roughly 20" x 16" x 2") and 2 base cushions (roughly 6' 6" x 20" x 4") and I'm wondering what material to use. I've tracked down a very cheap foam supplier and a friend of my wife's will machine the covers with piping and zips for £100 which seems very reasonable, but I've no real idea of what material to go for other than it needs to match the two burgundy PVC quarter berths.

I don't want to spend a fortune (a) because I haven't got one and (b) because my 3 year old will tip his drink on them and mash God knows what into them in short order. They therefore need to be washable and ideally semi-water proof to protect the foam. I don't want to go with any more PVC as I imagine it will make the interior look like a 70's pub.

Any ideas or earlier posts you can point me to? Thanks
 

Seajet

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If that foam is so cheap, do check it's fire retardant; it should be by now, but don't find out the hard way, it could / would get serious !

Not sure about matching your other cushions, but I have found denim a very good hard wearing material, looks good too.
 

Seajet

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Well it says 'fire retardant, conforms to fire regulations' so seems fine; I might ask them outright about the particular stuff you're considering though, just in case.
 

Clyde_Wanderer

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I reinstated a quarter berth last year and to keep the material as near the same as what was on the rest of the cushions I had to buy MicroCare Eco, a tough material with a very fine velvet feel to it, and spills can be wiped off without them penetrating through.
Aparently it was originally designed for health care establishments, ie the care of the elderly, hence the waterproofness.
Was about £35 per metre inc delivery.
http://www.gmtdesigns.co.uk/microcare.htm
 
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seanfoster

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Hi, I'm currently upholstering too, there are cheaper foam suppliers than efoam, have a look at ace foam http://www.acefoam.co.uk/ they seem pretty good to me.

Also for material, these people are excellent, very good prices: http://www.endoflinefabrics.co.uk/store/product/1843 they do end of line rolls, and often have a marine material (found one for you!) very reasonable and will send you a sample.

(not involved in any way!)
 

VicS

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Buy a firmish foam, rather than a soft one, for bunks but softer for back rests

3" is the absolute minimum thickness for bunks 2" should be Ok for backrests

Contact Hawke House and also Toomer and Hayter for samples of material.

use all synthetic material eg polypropylene.

Avoid velvet unless you know what you are up to.

Foam must be slightly over size to ensure a good tight fit. If you can get the covers on easily they are too loose.

If you want them buttoned then here are the instructions http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f337/Vic43/Forums 2007/Buttoning.jpg

A small boat upholstered using one of the cheapest patterned polypropylene fabrics from Toomer and Hayter:

 
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William_H

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Cushion covers

I used a plain dark coloured cotton drill material. really cheap and with a almost glossy surface is easy to clean. being cheap means we don't have to be fussy about standing on it or messing it with salt water. We used a long strip of velcro on the back edge so that it can be removed for washing. However we did the sewing ourselves which makes the whole thing cheap so easily replaced. The sewing is not so difficult if you don't have piping. Give it a go..
I suspect the cost of sewing will mean you want a more permanent classy type upholstery. I confess on my boat you can't usually see the upholstery for other stuff on the seats. olewill
 

mon_ami

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I used End of the Line Fabrics as well, and had a very good experience. I think you can probably do better than the cotton that seanfoster links to, though, if you have a little patience in looking--I spent most of the winter looking through their inventory and ended up buying Macrosuede (http://www.kingdominteriors.co.uk/catalogue/WarwickFabrics/fabrics/Macrosuede) for about £10/metre. It definitely seems the business--very durable, but very comfortable. Water doesn't seem to get through, though I imagine it isn't fully waterproof, just water resistant. End of the Line has an easy swatching service, too--I tried out a bunch of stuff (including that cotton) before deciding on the Macrosuede.

You may want to speak to your wife's friend about the machine she has available to do this sewing. I have an old Viking/Husquervana that I thought could deal with anything, but it wasn't thrilled about the several layers of superheavy weight fabric and the thread tension was not all that I'd wished it could be.

Thanks for the tip on Ace Foam--they're cheaper than the place I was using (which I thought was pretty good!) and I still have one cushion left to do.
 

Talulah

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I want to replace 6 back cushions (roughly 20" x 16" x 2") and 2 base cushions (roughly 6' 6" x 20" x 4") and I'm wondering what material to use. I've tracked down a very cheap foam supplier and a friend of my wife's will machine the covers with piping and zips for £100 which seems very reasonable, but I've no real idea of what material to go for other than it needs to match the two burgundy PVC quarter berths.

I don't want to spend a fortune (a) because I haven't got one and (b) because my 3 year old will tip his drink on them and mash God knows what into them in short order. They therefore need to be washable and ideally semi-water proof to protect the foam. I don't want to go with any more PVC as I imagine it will make the interior look like a 70's pub.

Any ideas or earlier posts you can point me to? Thanks

We recovered with Alcantara fabric. The retail is over £70 a meter but managed to buy off ebay at £18 a metre. (Ex Rover stock.) This is probably still more than most people are prepared to pay but it is very hard wearing and our boat gets a lot of use. It still looks great.
If the fabric needs to fit in 3 dimensions you'll need to pick a stretchy fabric. If on the other hand the fabric only has to curve in two dimensions then you can go for a none stretchy fabric (i.e. Alcantara.)
 

Nealo

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There's a huge amount of fabric to choose from especially since the internet came along but make your choice an informed one.

Natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, wool, have no place on a boat in my opinion. Any dampness wiil create problems eg mildew and these fabrics are the most difficult to get clean.

Avoid like the plague anything with more than 25% viscose. (or Rayon as it is sometimes called) Viscose is a sort of reconstituted wood fibre and can not be wet cleaned, it reacts badly with water. A lot of the "clearance" fabrics on the market are viscose. You sometimes see it described as "Art Silk".

Polypropylene is almost completely waterproof so would seem to be ideal for a boat. However, I think a fabric made from 100% polyprop (or Olefin as it's sometimes called) would feel too harsh - it is normally only used for liners in cushions and pillowcases for this reason. Thoses heavy duty "woven" carry sacks used by parcel deliverers are polyprop. Mixed with other synthetics its OK but rarely would you find a plain fabric of such composition.

Polyester used to be the cheap and cheerful end of the industry but has been given a new lease of life with the invention (those japanese again) of microfibres which turn it into a soft suede like affair. Faux suedes seem to be popular in the car and boat industry these days. Usually Polyester is mixed with Nylon or even polythene to give it different properties. Cheap faux suede is horrible stuff and will get dirty just by you looking at it. Good stuff like Alcantara is fine, but bear in mind that most of these fabrics rely heavily on being teflon coated (eg Scotchguard, Guardsman) to make them stain/water resistant. The coating wears off, typically in 3-5 years and needs to be professionally reapplied.

Nylon (polyamide) is normally used in a "flock" format on its own or to give a bleded fabric more strength. Nylon flock crops up mostly in curtains which is really where it belongs. You get static from it of course.

My choice would be Acrylic. Most people will recognise Acrylic in the form of Draylon, which is a sort of synthetic velvet, but it crops up in other forms. Originally designed as a sort of artificial wool just like Viscose is a sort of artificial silk, it is almost the perfect upholstery fabric, in my opinion. With acylic you don't need to worry too much about scotchguarding to keep it clean, it will last forever and keep its appearance, the best thing about it is that for a synthetic material it feels very "natural". Downside is it is quite heat sensitive, but so are most of the synthetics, and it tends to be more expensive than say polyester or nylon.

I earn my living cleaning this stuff not selling it, by the way.
 

Nealo

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Regarding Alcantara.

Yes, you could say it is a luxury fabric, but then so is cotton velvet and you wouldn't have that on a yacht would you?

It is cleverly marketed but note the emphasis on regular cleaning.

I have cleaned two examples of really dirty Alcantara. One was a nearly new BMW 5 Series, used as the school run car and the seats had got thoroughly wet from ferrying soggy children about. It looked terrible and the lady was not impressed that this was supposed to be a "wipe clean" fabric. If you examine their website Alcantara recommend sticking the covers in a washing machine - not possible with car upholstery.

The other one was a big corner sofa in a house with 5 children under 12. The sofa was 18 months old and again the lady was not impressed that her luxury furniture had soiled so easily.

The problem with microfibres is they may feel great but they do absorb soil readily, so need constant attention to keep them clean. Once the fabric reaches saturation point and can't absorb any more, it looks awful and with fixed covers you have to have it professionally cleaned or replace it.

One way of selecting an upholstery fabric I often suggest is imagine using it as a cleaning cloth and think how effective it would be. You do not want your upholstery made out of something that picks up/absorbs dirt easily.

Those "eco" cleaning cloths you see everywhere are made from Polyester microfibre...
 

Seven Spades

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There is no doubt Alcantara is the best. Our boat is 1996 with original fabric and for the most part it looks like new. Yes you can clear it with a damp cloth and it does not show a "water mark".
 

doug748

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........will machine the covers with piping........

I don't want to spend a fortune (a) because I haven't got one and (b) because my 3 year old will tip his drink on them and mash God knows what into them in short order. They therefore need to be washable and ideally semi-water proof to protect the foam. I don't want to go with any more PVC as I imagine it will make the interior look like a 70's pub.

Any ideas or earlier posts you can point me to? Thanks



I think PVC can look acceptable by modern standards, but a couple of points:

# You need to select one the highly plasticised "leather look" products and it need not be too thick.
# No texture and even colour.
# Deep buttoning adds a quality touch and a visual key, buttons should match the fabric
# Four inches minimum (as already suggested) but build up the outer edge by, maybe, 2" by 6" deep, to form a soft roll to the front of the cushion The squab will thus form a P shape when looked at from the side. This gives a soft feel to the thing and is also very practical for a sleeping berth. You will need glue and an electric carving knife.
# Leave out the piping which can look very dated. Your seamstress will have enough work to produce the shaped covers.
 
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