Anyone who owns a boat knows how important boat carpet is. Those who consider it an afterthought learn their lesson the hard way. But people still often ignore it because of the high costs involved when they hire people to do it for them or ask their boat company to handle it. Rather than incur even greater expenses later on, it is wiser to just learn how to replace boat carpets yourself.

Boat carpets should be replaced every few years. A weathered, torn boat carpet is worse than no boat carpet at all. If a boat carpet provides traction and prevents falls on wet boat floors, a torn carpet can increase the chances of falls due to snags. Moreover, it will fail to protect the boat floor from the water like it is supposed to.

But, as we said, boat carpet replacement can be costly when done by professionals. That is why it becomes a huge advantage if you know how to replace the carpet on a boat yourself. Now you might be afraid of mistakes and failure if you are doing a boat carpet installation or replacement for the first time. But that is exactly why we are here.

We will give you a step-by-step guide on how to replace a boat carpet yourself. Following this guide will help you avoid big and small errors alike. But before we go to that, let us first see what you must keep in mind before buying your new boat carpet.

Pointers for Buying New Boat Carpet

A boat carpet is expensive. Therefore, just as it is important to do the boat carpet replacement itself correctly, it is also vital to get the right carpet for the job. For that, ensure the following:

  • Before you order the full length of the carpet, order a sample to make sure it is the right thing.
  • Choose the carpet in a median ounce weight range, within 20 and 30 ounces per square yard. Too low a weight makes the carpet fragile while too high a weight makes it unnecessarily heavy and hard to work with.
  • Choose a marine-grade carpet. These are more durable and weather and water-resistant.
  • It should preferably also be stain-resistant, rot, mold, and mildew-resistant, static-resistant, and salt-resistant.
  • It is better to choose a carpet with fabric that is resistant to fraying and flexible backing resistant to cracking.
  • Make sure the carpet has good backing, preferably rubber. Good backing makes the carpet more durable and functional.
  • The carpet material should be non-flammable. The last thing you want is a carpet that will spread accidental fire instead of restricting it.
  • Also, make sure that the carpet components are cleaner-friendly. It should be able to tolerate all common cleaners used. 

How to Replace Boat Carpet

Replacing your boat carpet is done in four stages, which are as follows:

Removing the Old Boat Carpet

  • First, make sure that the boat is stably and steady in its place. In normal circumstances, it should be on its trailer. The trailer should also be chocked in place.
  • The boat battery must be disconnected before starting work.
  • Remove all the equipment and tackle first.
  • Now take all the furniture and any other removable structures out that may be attached to the deck and interfere with the process. 

[A good idea here is to pack and label each item for easy traceability. It especially makes smaller objects easier to keep track of and not lose.]

  • Remove all carpeted panels and hatches. Rivets should be drilled out.
  • Remove staples, if any, that attach the carpet to the surface below.
  • Start removing the carpet from the deck as well as the hatches and panels, by pulling from one side.

[Where it does not come off easily, use gentle strikes with a utility knife or scraping blade to get the carpet off]

  • As you remove each piece, mark the bow side with colored tape or a marker. Do not throw the pieces of the old carpet away; they can be used as templates to cut the new pieces.

Removing Adhesive Residues

The old adhesive must be removed completely, and the deck and other surfaces to be carpeted must be cleaned and dried completely before the new boat carpet installation. Before starting this process, check the deck for any kind of damage, physical or from rots and fungi. This must be addressed first and repaired before anything is done to it.

There are several ways to remove the old adhesive residues from the deck and other surfaces. You can use one or a combination of these to effectively remove all the residue from the surface. These are as follows:

  • Market-grade acetone. Dampen a piece of clean cloth with acetone solvent and wipe the deck and other surfaces. Acetone is a strong solvent and usually removes all residue. But be careful; getting it on other surfaces may remove dyes, glues, and other soluble materials from them.
  • Chemical glue solvent. Many options are available in the market. However, before you go ahead and buy one, it is a good idea to consult with the boat manufacturer to make sure it will not cause any problems like undue soaking. 

Fine-spray the solvent on the whole deck or on select areas where the glue is sticking. Let it sit for a few minutes and scrape out. You will also need to clean up all the solvent after this. Use an absorbent cloth to dry up the solvent, then scrub and wash with soap and warm water. 

Give a good rub with a dry cloth and let the surfaces dry overnight. Before you move on to the boat carpet installation step, make sure the surfaces are absolutely clean and dry. If either any solvent or any water is left, the new adhesive will not stick.

  • Glue scraper blade. They are designed to help remove stubborn glue from surfaces. However, they are best used for smaller regions, as scraping with a tool takes too much effort and caution. You can always combine it with a solvent for easier removal. Also, make sure not to apply too much pressure or you may damage the surface.
  • Orbital sander. An orbital or random orbital sander can be used if you feel a scraper is too much work. Here too, using a solvent first can make the work easier. But it requires a more experienced hand because here, even a small error in judgment of pressure or movement can cause more damage.

Cutting Out the New Carpet

We recommend using the old carpet pieces as the template for cutting the new carpet pieces. But if the old carpet is too damaged, you can also set out paper or cheap fabric rolls on the deck and other surfaces to make a makeshift template. Lay them on the deck side by side, weighing them down where necessary. For removable panels, use them directly over the carpet to mark and measure.

Cut the rolls for the edges of the surfaces. Tape individual pieces together to form the template. For hatches and panels, or any other surface where the edges need to be wrapped, leave a few extra inches out. Here too, mark the pieces with colored tape or markers on the bow side. This will help you indicate the directions when cutting and installing the new pieces. Now it is time to cut the new carpet.

  • Place the new carpet roll downside up. The surface where you unroll it should be clean and flat. Smooth out all ripples and lumps and weigh down the piece in several places. You can also vacuum over it once to remove dirt and residues and run a roller over it to smooth the surface.
  • Place a template piece on the carpet. Start with the largest piece of the template and start from one side of the new carpet. Add all the template pieces on first to adjust them so that there is no wastage or shortages. Smooth the template over and weigh them down.
  • Trace the designs out on the new carpet using a marker. Also, make marks corresponding to the tapes or marked indications on the template to indicate the correct orientations. 
  • Remove the template after marking and use a sharp blade to cut the patterns out. Use a drill to make the holes. Replace the parts when they start getting blunt or the cuts and holes will not be sharp.

Installing the New Cut-out Carpet Pieces

You should wear vinyl or plastic gloves for this step. Also, make sure the deck and surfaces are absolutely clean and dry.

  • Start with the largest piece of carpet. Use the marked indications to place it the right way over the deck. Adjust its position until you are sure every edge corresponds. Smooth out all ripples and weigh it down in the middle.
  • Roll up one side of the carpet up to the weight and apply the glue all over the surface. Use a proper applicator tool. If you don’t have one, use another suitable tool like a trowel.
  • Do not apply too much or too little glue: just form a thin coat over the surface. Small spots of accumulation should be run over with the applicator; large puddles may require you to mop or absorb it up. If glue gets on the carpet or another surface, wipe or soak up immediately and apply warm water and soap to clean it up.
  • Put the carpet back on the surface and use a roller or smoother to ensure there are no bumps or spaces between the carpet and the surface. 
  • Now shift the weight to the completed side and glue the other side or sides of the carpet in a similar manner. 
  • Do the panels and hatches in a similar way. Use clips or clamps to hold the wrapped sides in place until the glue is dry.
  • After half an hour of sticking the carpet in place, apply pressure over the areas again to remove any spaces in between. 

The glue should be completely dry in an hour. Then your work is done.

Extras

These are not necessary, but you can do them for better appearances, convenience, or increasing durability.

  • You can hem or bind the edges of the carpet to prevent fraying and snagging.
  • You can use rivets, staples, or snap fasteners for glueless attachment or along with adhesives for more secure attachment.
  • Small holes need not be made at the time of cutting the carpet pieces; you can drill them directly when adjusting and placing the pieces on the required surfaces.
  • Most boat carpets have some flexibility or give. So, if you realize you made a bit of a measuring mistake, under an inch, you can give a slight pull to adjust. Just make sure no wrinkles or ripples are created as a result.

Conclusion

This step-by-step guide should help you understand how to replace boat carpets yourself without fear, confusion, or hesitation. Of course, you still have the option of getting it done by professionals. But if you are confident about how to replace the carpet on your boat, it makes sense to save your penny and get it done as a DIY project yourself.


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