Boat Carpet Installation Tips

I recently was lucky enough to board a luxury yacht in the Caribbean, here they offer a wide range of yachts to charter for holidays in the Caribbean -and I couldn’t help but wonder how they fitted the carpets so well. The owner of the yacht told me how to do it. He said that old carpet in the well deck is getting a bit worn and that tear seems to be growing. Replacing the carpet in your boat is a medium-size job that can be spread over several days or even several weeks, if you plan to do it as part of your yearly fitting-out. The most important things to remember are that, when you purchase your replacement carpet, make sure that you get the right kind of carpet. Once you’ve got that in hand, the job is not tremendously difficult.

Choosing Your Carpet and Supplies

Know about how many yards of carpet you will need for each cabin or space and have the carpet for each cabin or space cut separately. This will make moving the carpet onto your boat easier, since you can carry it aboard cabin by cabin or area by area, rather than carrying all the carpet aboard in one roll, then trying to cut the carpet for each area.

Buy carpet that it is specifically for installation in boats. Marine carpet is treated to resist the effects of UV light and moisture. This is particularly important if you plan to carpet areas that will be exposed to the effects of sun and weather, like a cockpit or an open deck. Some people try to save money by installing a regular indoor carpet or indoor/outdoor carpet on a boat. This may be less expensive initially, but the carpet is quickly saturated with water–even indoor outdoor carpet lacks the waterproof characteristics of marine carpet. In the end, unless it is a marine carpet, it ends up a mouldy disaster.

Measuring and Cutting the Carpet

Before you begin installation, lay the new carpet in the sun. This makes the backing more pliable and allows some of the wrinkles smooth out of the carpet. After 15 or 20 minutes of lying in the sun, the carpet will be more “workable” as you install it.

Remove any loose furniture from the area. Unbolt any pedestal seats. Pedestal seating is bolted directly to the deck, not to the carpet. Mark the locations of the pedestal seats on the surface of the carpet with chalk and cut a hole in the carpet large enough so that the seat can be bolted to the deck.

Move the carpet aboard for the space you plan to work in first. Measure the space you want to carpet and transfer the measurements to the back of your new carpet. Use a carpenter’s chalk line to mark longer cuts and make the cuts with the longest scissors possible to minimize ragged edges.

Laying the Carpet

You may have to remove shoe molding to lay the carpet; remember, unlike a carpet in your home, the shoe molding around the edges of a space isn’t enough to keep a carpet on a boat in place. The whole carpet will have to be glued down, first to ensure it stays in place and then, to ensure that the water, either from boating activities or condensation, will not accumulate under the carpet.

Use a marine adhesive to install the carpet. Other forms of glue won’t resist the moisture in the marine environment and will fail. Avoid using carpet adhesives intended for use ashore, or other vinyl or carpet glues. As non-marine adhesives are exposed to water–particularly if they suffer constant exposure from condensation on the underside of the carpet–they may “ball up” or the ambient water may leach the moisture from the glue, causing it to dry and lose adhesion.

When you have finished laying the carpet, allow the adhesive to cure according to its directions before returning any furniture to the area or using the area.