What type of fabric should I use when I replace cabin interior cushions?
Sue & Larry respond:
For interior cushions, it's wise to stick with fabrics that are 100-percent synthetic. These fabrics will offer the best resistance to wear, stain, mildew, and rot. Sunbrella makes a wide range of interior fabrics that stand up well to boat life. Some of these are textured, and some are patterned. Stay away from using their exterior solid color fabrics for interior use since they tend to show dirt and hair, along with water and sweat stains.
We can personally attest to the extreme durability and long life of the synthetic velvet-type fabrics with pin dots in them. We've had these for years, and the cushions still look great. Many boat manufacturers use these fabrics as a standard choice for cushions.
Sometimes you see boats with real leather cushions. Leather is very durable and looks great, but is very expensive. Aboard our last boat, we had a synthetic leather material called Ultra Leather. This looked and felt wonderful, was absolutely stain-resistant, but failed a little in areas of wear, like behind your legs where it puckered. And then there were a few spots that the cats claws managed to nick. We do know, however, several cruisers who are very pleased with Ultrasuede on their interior cushions.
If you need help with your cushions, SailNet has a full-service Custom Cushion Shop. The folks there are very experienced; for years they've made the new boat cushions for companies like Beneteau, Compac, Manta, and Morgan, to name but a few. They also have an extensive database of patterns covering many models of boats.
Good luck with deciding on a new fabric for your boat.