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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All...

Well I am finally getting those new cushions to replace the 30 year old moldy ones that are falling apart. A guy named Joe from Maine is doing them, and he does many.

I was going to go with vinyl and closed cell foam, because my boat still has some leaks and tends to be wet.

Joe pointed out that with vinyl, as the temp changes, condensation can build up inside the cushion covers and cause moisture. He suggested that Sunbrella fabric is better because it can breath.

As for the foam, he said he no longer uses closed cell foam. I think his concerns were comfort / stiffness. He uses memory foam, open cell foam in a few different firmnesses and some kind of very expensive foam that water passes right through.

He did say the open cell foam is like a sponge, and that it can be dried out in the sun if it gets wet. He recommends for the cabin, using the open cell, and for cockpit using the kind th water passes through. (Im not getting cockpit cushions).

I think he has a good point about the fabric, but I am not so sure on the foam choice. What do you folks think? Its about a $2,000 expense, so I want to make the best decision I can. Thanks everyone!
 

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The idea of the 'pass through' foam sounds interesting but as you say - very expensive. As for Closed Cell it is also more expensive and every example of it I have ever sat on was really not that comfortable. I'd compare a 1.5" layer of Closed Cell to a thick terrycloth towel folded once. Better than bare fiberglass but certainly no lounge chair ;) I've mostly had standard foam filled vinyl on previous boats and always just flipped them over for the nightly dew or brought them in for rain. Now I have the W.M. knockoff Porta-Seats that I use for cockpit cushions and still do the same thing as they have a rubberized bottom that can stand the morning dew. Edit..... Sorry I missed your little (that you weren't talking about cockpit cushions)
 

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Tartan 28
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I'm currently re-upholstering my interior - for the settee's, I went with the recommendation from my upholsterer to go with a faux leather vinyl but with cloth backing on the undersides for breathability. The one upside about condensation is that it is extremely easy to wipe off of the vinyl - fabrics will trap it and then you could be dealing with a mildew issue.
 

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Do you really use the cushions or they really just for show? If you really use them then do it right and use a high quality fabric, probably sunbrella, and a good open cell foam AND fix your leaks. If you're spending $2000 on some new cushions they should be comfortable and you should protect them.
 

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I WISH my new cushions were $2000! I think I ended up at some 10-12K for ALL of them, Including sunbrella and new foam. I used a stiffer open cell style. Really nice to sit on compared to the originals from 85.

In the Vberth were we sleep, we also went with 5" foam instead of 4". A LOT nicer.

I should also add, some of the cushions are shaped, so more cost. Also had piping, and buttons on some of the cushions. I am recalling, and counting in my head, 14 cushions, and about 5 matching pillows. Of course, the pillows had fringe, rope and some kind of frilly stuff on some of the pillows too! Wifes idea, and if you want to argue with her, go ahead, you'll lose, as did I!

Original look after redo of aft cabin.




Salon with new cushions and new varnish, head liner etc. Same design thru out the boat. with pillows in the back ground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Do you really use the cushions or they really just for show? If you really use them then do it right and use a high quality fabric, probably sunbrella, and a good open cell foam AND fix your leaks. If you're spending $2000 on some new cushions they should be comfortable and you should protect them.
Great questions. Maybe a little of both. We'll probably do an occasional over night trip. Most of the sailing will be day sailing and club racing. Probably the head sails will spend more time on the V Birth cushions then people will.

But we'll probably hang out there as well, so I do want it to be comfortable.

So I am hearing that breathable fabric is best, that closed cell foam squishes down easily and is less comfortable then open cell foam, and that 5 inches on the sleeping surfaces is much better than 4in.

I am in the process of fixing the leaks, but the thing that slows that down is finding them. But i will do all I can to protect these.

One more thing the cushion guy said is that he uses special fabric on the bottom of the cushions, I don't recall exactly why.

Thanks everyone! Sounds like i should go with the vendors recommendation of open cell foam, Sunbrella top and whatever he uses for the bottom.
 

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I used the same thing top and bottom. BUT, my original ones had a different fabirc on the bottom, that was heavier than the top. Probably as you can see, the original was a loose woven Wool like material, and would snag easy. Meanwhile the bottom was a tight weave like the sunbrella we choose. Rumour was, there was not that much difference in price to stay with the Sunbrella top and bottom.

Ask for a quote difference. Also, we found sunbrella fabrics from high teens$$$ to mid even upper $100 per yard, one approached $200! Ours was around 30, and we needed 35'ish yards IIRC.
 

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Vinyl? Ewwww I think it would be just about as comfortable as plastic couch covers.

Go with the open cell. They should last quite a while if the leaks are dealt with and the boat is given a chance to dry and air out during the season.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I used the same thing top and bottom.

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Ask for a quote difference. Also, we found sunbrella fabrics from high teens$$$ to mid even upper $100 per yard, one approached $200! Ours was around 30, and we needed 35'ish yards IIRC.
Your cushions look great, I hope mine come out as well, thanks for the pics!

We discussed using the same fabric top and bottom, so that the cushions that were rectangular could be used upside down. But, there are very few like that and also he said he puts velcro on the undersides, so that I can velcro them to the boat. Otherwise, they flop around as I sail. Seemed to make sense.
 

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Mine have velcro too. I believe, but do not quote me, that velcro on the bottom is a pretty common way to keep cushions from moving.

Also, something to think about, assuming you have cushions currently. I took in my V berth, where there was two, and made it on bigger one. Added a cushion I did not have for the saloon, and IIRC, in the aft stateroom, a spot where there was two med and on smaller, I made into two cushions also. It made getting under these area's actually easier.


Marty
 

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I did mine myself. Sunbrella is ok but the fact is it is not totally water repellent. One of the better sides of marine vinyl... based on design of the cushions etc - water does not get to the cushion foam. In which case you can use the cheapest most comfortable foam you desire. The drawbacks are the stickiness of the vinyl - but seriously if you have leather for you car - yu get over it quick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Mine have velcro too. I believe, but do not quote me, that velcro on the bottom is a pretty common way to keep cushions from moving.

Also, something to think about, assuming you have cushions currently. I took in my V berth, where there was two, and made it on bigger one. Added a cushion I did not have for the saloon, and IIRC, in the aft stateroom, a spot where there was two med and on smaller, I made into two cushions also. It made getting under these area's actually easier.


Marty
Actually, my V Birth had two cushions, side by side. I'm going to convert that to two smaller triangle ones forward with one wider but less deep one aft. That's because I have a locker in the aft part of the V Birth I want to get into easily, but before it required removing both cushions from the V Birth - what a pain! This should be easier, with just that smaller aft cushion needing to be moved.

Other than that, there really are no other spaces where breaking the cushions into more than one would help. But actually, its worth thinking about, just to make getting the cushions on and off the boat easier, should I want to, say for winter storage.

Thanks for the suggestion!
 

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My wife will be redoing our cushions with our sailrite machine an new open cell foam. We are looking at using material composed of cotton (75%) and polyester fabric (25%) from a fabric store upholstery bolts where there are many to chose from. Then we will scotch gaurd and make them water resistant. We want breathability so we do not get mildew. The cloth is much cheaper when bought this way and there are many more patterns and styles to choose from. It is also more compfortble to sleep on the sumbrella.

The hard part is also cutting the foam to make the odd shappped cushions.

Dave
 

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cushions

Cutting is actually easy. here's a couple of tips an upholsterer taught me.

If you don't have any old cushions, make patterns from cardboard or heavy brown packaging paper.

Cut the foam 1/2" bigger on each side than you want the cushions. Example= If your cushions to be 24" by 76" cut the foam 25" by 77" then sew the fabric to the dimensions of the patterns. It squishes the foam down a bit and makes for a tighter fitting cover.

To cut the foam, use an electric knife like you would use to carve a ham.
This makes cutting the foam real easy. Mark both sides, and go slow .

I have done cushions for my last two boats, and am getting ready to do the ones for my latest boat.

Patterned fabric hides a lot of stains. On boats, things get spilled when it gets rough. The patterns in a fabric can hide those stains. Use a fabric that has stain resistance in it when you buy it, or use a spray stain resister such as Scotch Guard. It's not as good as the fabric that comes with stain blocker in it from the factory, but it helps a lot.

On my last boat, I did all of my cushions for around $500 including foam.

I also made my own winch covers, sail bag, sail cover and cockpit cushions.

If you've never done any sewing projects for your boat, I wouldn't suggest starting with cushions, but go for the simpler things like pillows, winch covers, and other small things to get practice. There are plenty of books and videos out there to learn from.

I know that you're going to have someone else make them, but thought others could use the information.

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Patterned fabric hides a lot of stains. On boats, things get spilled when it gets rough. The patterns in a fabric can hide those stains. Use a fabric that has stain resistance in it when you buy it, or use a spray stain resister such as Scotch Guard. It's not as good as the fabric that comes with stain blocker in it from the factory, but it helps a lot.
This is all great info, especially this tip, thank you!
 

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This is another project that we are in the middle of. We are using a high quality high density, high compression open cell foam. Check out Foam 101 on newjsi dot com. OC is far more comfortable than CC, and the drain through stuff is way too expensive for the cabin. For covers we are using sunbrella on top, and a breathable poly-vinyl on the bottom. The bottoms will be resistant to absorbing condensation from the fiberglass, and the tops are breathable to facilitate drying. We are also putting zippers on everything to allow for removing covers for washing, or for drying out the foam, should it get seriously wet.
 

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Cutting is actually easy. here's a couple of tips an upholsterer taught me.

If you don't have any old cushions, make patterns from cardboard or heavy brown packaging paper.

Cut the foam 1/2" bigger on each side than you want the cushions. Example= If your cushions to be 24" by 76" cut the foam 25" by 77" then sew the fabric to the dimensions of the patterns. It squishes the foam down a bit and makes for a tighter fitting cover.
While 1/2" larger is a good rule of thumb, it really depends on the size of the cushions. The "excess" should be increased if the cushions are very long in one dimension. For instance, going an 2" extra on the length of a 6' long cushion might be necessary to get the firm fit you're looking for. 1/2" IMHO is good for up to about 4' or so... and for larger, you should probably go up to 3/4" or 1" on the longer dimensions.

To cut the foam, use an electric knife like you would use to carve a ham.
This makes cutting the foam real easy. Mark both sides, and go slow .
If you have access to a big meat locker, freezing the foam helps it cut more neatly.

I have done cushions for my last two boats, and am getting ready to do the ones for my latest boat.

Patterned fabric hides a lot of stains. On boats, things get spilled when it gets rough. The patterns in a fabric can hide those stains. Use a fabric that has stain resistance in it when you buy it, or use a spray stain resister such as Scotch Guard. It's not as good as the fabric that comes with stain blocker in it from the factory, but it helps a lot.

On my last boat, I did all of my cushions for around $500 including foam.

I also made my own winch covers, sail bag, sail cover and cockpit cushions.

If you've never done any sewing projects for your boat, I wouldn't suggest starting with cushions, but go for the simpler things like pillows, winch covers, and other small things to get practice. There are plenty of books and videos out there to learn from.

I know that you're going to have someone else make them, but thought others could use the information.

Dave
I'd point out that most major cities have at least one major foam distributor and you can often buy the foam from them at far less cost than buying it elsewhere.
 

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Great tips Nereusailor and Saildog. I took notes. We do have acess to a large freezer. I will try that.

Dave
 

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Has anyone used "memory foam" (Tempurpedic?) for cabin cushions? One strike against it is that it is very heavy. I don't know what its water absorption or breatheability characteristics are. On the plus side, it can be very comfortable. You can buy mattress toppers relatively cheaply on Ebay. Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Has anyone used "memory foam" (Tempurpedic?) for cabin cushions? One strike against it is that it is very heavy. I don't know what its water absorption or breatheability characteristics are. On the plus side, it can be very comfortable. You can buy mattress toppers relatively cheaply on Ebay. Thoughts?
The guy who is doing mine showed me some. It seemed very squishy and pretty expensive. I saw on his web site that he can make a 4 inch cushion where the bottom 3 inches are normal foam and the top inch is memory foam. He bonds them together.

I plan to ask him about the cost of that and I'll let everyone know what the difference is. BTW, in case anyone is interested, here is his web site:

Custom Cushions & Canvas Products in Maine
 
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