How to Install Boat Carpet in 5 Easy Steps

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How to Install Boat Carpet

If you’re a new boat owner or simply a veteran who wants to go the extra mile to install boat carpet, don’t fret. Many avoid the thought of carpeting a boat because it may feel like a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done something similar before.

If you’re curious as to how to install a boat carpet, you’ll be happy to know that installing boat carpet can be done with a little handy work and dedication to getting it right on the first try.

Installing boat carpet is key to get right on the first try to prevent any damage to the rest of the carpeting and to avoid wasting materials, so ensure you’re confident in what you’re about to do before you perform the actual installation.

Materials to Install Boat Carpet

It’s a common misconception that installing boat carpet will require machinery or expensive tools. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Here is a list of materials you’ll need to install boat carpet:

  • Small to medium clamps
  • Weights
  • Rags
  • A carpet knife or generic utility knife
  • A tape measure
  • Marine carpet
  • An adhesive that’s marine-grade
  • A scraper
  • Acetone
  • A stiff broom or roller
  • Possibly a screwdriver
  • A staple gun

Most of these items can be found at a local hardware store or general store if you don’t already have them out in your tool shed.

It should be noted that you should never use traditional carpet or adhesive when working with carpets on boats. This is because the carpet put down on a boat will be constantly exposed to a lot of moisture and water due to the nature of boating. Marine carpets and adhesives are designed and produced with this in mind, so be sure you’re using the correct type of material.

Installing Boat Carpet

carpeted flooring in a boat

Installing boat carpet is a process that’s done over several steps. Here they are.

Gather Your Tools

The first step to any efficient and successful project is to have your tools ready to go and easily accessible to you. Expect to spend several hours from start to finish when installing carpet on a boat.

It’s relatively easy to get done in an afternoon, so keep all your tools nearby to save time in the end.

To start, you’ll need your utility or carpet knife, the marine carpet, the tape measure, acetone, and possibly a screwdriver.

Get the Right Carpet and Adhesive Ready

Once you’ve got your tools ready to go, go ahead and grab your marine carpet and marine adhesive. Keep these nearby as they can be a pain in the butt to haul around once you’ve already started your project.

Don’t do anything with them quite yet, but it’ll be helpful to have them on hand.

Prepare the Boat’s Surface

The first step to preparing the boat’s surface will be to remove the deck off the boat so you can more easily work on it.

If you already have carpet on your boat, you’ll need to remove them. This is where you’ll bring out your utility/carpet knife and maybe a screwdriver.

Look for any bolts that have been laid to keep the original carpet in place or any staples that have been used to hold the carpet in place. Simply take your knife/screwdriver and begin peeling these things away.

Once the staples and bolts have been removed, you can begin cutting into the carpet. Just as you’re about to put adhesive down on your carpet, there likely is already adhesive on the carpet you’re about to pull up.

If you find that there is quite a bit of adhesive underneath these carpets, you’ll have to break out the scraper/acetone. Acetone works to remove the layers of adhesive that is holding the carpet down. Take a rag and rub some acetone on it and begin rubbing it along the edges of the carpet. Once you’ve removed enough of the adhesive, you’ll be able to take your scraper and start lifting the carpet.

If your boat doesn’t have any carpet you need to pull up, it’s still best to give your flooring a pass or two with the acetone. This will remove any finishing that’s already on your boat and give your adhesive something a better grip on the flooring for when you put the marine carpet down.

Laying Down Your Carpet for Boats

Laying Down Your Carpet for Boats

Once your floors are fully prepared, it’s time to lay down the carpet onto your boat.

Take your tape measure and begin getting the exact measurements you’ll need. Don’t be afraid to go an inch or two over the exact amount, you can easily clean the excess carpet up with your utility/carpet knife. On the other hand, cutting too little carpet can be detrimental and you’ll end up wasting an entire section of carpet.

After you have your measured pieces of carpet ready to go, you can begin to apply the adhesive. Typically, the marine-grade adhesive is applied directly to the deck rather than onto the carpet. However, you should check the directions that your adhesive provides. Take the adhesive and give it a nice, even coat across the deck.

Curing your flooring may also be required, so ensure that you’re allowing the appropriate amount of time for that to finish.

As soon as the adhesive is preparing, you can begin carefully stretching your carpet across the appropriate areas. It’s helpful to do this in sections, as laying down a large section of carpet can be cumbersome and you’ll end up missing the mark more often than not. Take this into account when you’re cutting out the appropriate chunks of carpet.

If you’ve placed your carpet well, you won’t have any wrinkles or bubbles across it. If you find some of these, carefully lift the carpet back up before the adhesive binds it to the deck and adjust it to be as flat as possible.

Secure the Carpet

Once you’ve got the carpet firmly in place, it’s time to begin to secure the overlapping carpet to the deck. You’ll need to use heavy-duty staples and a staple gun to get this job done effectively.

Take your staple gun and push the staples into the edges of your carpet. This added durability will help your carpet stay on the ground and prevent and edges from fraying and coming off.

Finishing Up

Once the staples are in, you’ll just about be done. Take the deck pieces and put them back onto your boat. From here, you’ll be able to fully see your completed project.

Simply take some screws and secure your deck back onto the boat. You’ve now finished installing carpet onto your boat!

Tips and Tricks


Tips and TricksBoat Carpet Quality

If you want to get a long-lasting carpet that can endure the elements that you take your boat into, you’re not going to want to go purchase anything less than high-quality, marine-grade boat carpet.

This type of carpet should offer protection against mildew, rot, stains, fading, and from the sunlight. All of these issues will surely rear their ugly faces throughout the time you own a boat. It simply comes with the territory of carpeting something that constantly finds itself in water.

Don’t fret, marine-grade carpets are made with this in mind, but you should still look for higher quality materials to avoid replacing it sooner rather than later.

Here are some tips on how to clean boat carpet, so you can keep a fresh and nice looking carpet in your boat.

Consider Finding a Kit

If you don’t have all the necessary tools and equipment listed to install carpet on your boat, don’t worry about breaking the bank to get them all.

Many suppliers, such as Bass Pro Shops, offer carpet replacement/installation kits that will help you get all the tools and supplies you need without much hassle. There is a great option for those who don’t usually do this type of work in their everyday lives.

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Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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