How To Replace Boat Carpet

If installing carpet in your home is difficult, installing carpet on a boat is a completely different ball game.

But despite this, replacing your boat carpet doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might expect. 

How to Replace Boat Carpet

A lot of people see replacing their boat carpet as a chore, and simply just another annoying part of boat maintenance.

But if you change the way that you view replacing your boat carpet, then you can make the entire experience more positive.

Yes, carpet is an essential part of your boat, but it is also an opportunity for you to personalize your boat and tailor it to your personal preferences. It is also a great way to give your boat a makeover.

But even though changing your mindset can make the experience easier, replacing your boat carpet can still be an awkward job.

It requires you to remove the old carpet before you install the new one which can be a fiddly job.

However, there’s no need to worry because we’re telling you everything that you need to know about these steps in this guide. So let’s jump right in.

Things you Must Consider

Before you dive right in and begin tearing up your old carpet, there are some things that you should consider.

The key to making replacing your boat carpet as stress-free as possible lies in the preparation. So let’s take a look at some of the things you need to consider before getting started. 

The Carpet that you Want

Perhaps the most important thing that you need to consider is the type of carpet that you want to put down in place of the old one.

There are a plethora of carpets available, and this can make finding the perfect one for you a tiring job. 

Finding the perfect carpet for you can be made easier by the fact that any carpet which is installed in your boat must be of marine-grade quality.

Regular carpets are not designed to work well with water and moisture, and as a boat owner, you will know that both of these factors are very much common in your boat.

While your boat is at sea, your carpet will be exposed to water, and while it is in storage it will be exposed to moisture.

This can result in mold developing on your boat carpet if the one that you buy is not suitable for nautical life. So you must buy marine-grade quality carpet. 

Tools you will Need

Finally, you need to consider the tools that you need to get the job done.

It is best to gather these before you begin to avoid any unnecessary stoppage time once you rip up the carpet. 

We would recommend gathering:

  • A good carpet/utility knife
  • A staple gun
  • Some rags or cloths
  • Weights and clamps
  • A screwdriver
  • Acetone
  • A scraper
  • A tape measure

You may not necessarily need to use all of these tools in the process of pulling up old and installing new carpet, but it is best to gather them just in case. 

We also recommend purchasing a quality marine-grade adhesive to seal your carpet tight to your floor.

The effectiveness of regular adhesives can be impacted by water, so if you want your carpets to stick down, always use marine-grade quality adhesive. 

Removing Boat Carpet

Once you have bought your carpet and gathered all of the tools that you need, you can then begin work on removing your existing boat carpet.

How tricky this will be depends on how long your existing carpet has been down and the materials that were used to attach it originally. 

Before you start to rip up the carpet, you will first need to prepare the area by removing all of the deck pieces in your boat.

If you cannot lift the deck pieces of your boat then instead you should try and remove everything on the surface of your boat which can be a lengthy process. This includes removing the hardware, fences, accessories, and boat seats. 

While removing these might not be difficult, you must remember exactly where they were before you took them out so that you can return your boat to normal once the new carpet is down. 

Once the surface is prepared, you can then begin to remove the carpet from your boat. This is usually easy but can be made difficult if the adhesive that was used to stick the carpet down originally is very strong. 

Depending on the adhesives that were used to seal your carpet to the floor originally, you might be able to simply pull your carpet up using your hands if you can find a loose area.

If not, you should begin looking for any staples or screws which are holding the carpet down. Once you locate these, you should try and pull them up using your screwdriver to pop the metal out. 

After that is done, you can then take your scraper and begin to tear the carpet up off the deck by forcing the scraper underneath the carpet and lifting. If this doesn’t work, you should apply a small amount of acetone to the adhesive which is sealing the carpet to the deck.

To do this, you should begin rubbing the acetone to the underlay of the carpet. This will weaken the adhesive, so when you next attempt to remove the carpet with your scraper it should lift straight up. 

Once you have lifted the carpet, you might find that the plywood below the carpet has begun to rot. This is especially common if your boat is older and isn’t a massive problem.

But if you do find that the plywood has begun to rot, we would recommend also replacing the plyboards before you put down the new carpet.

Even if there is not much rot in the plywood, this will continue to happen even with new carpet down on top, so it is best to replace them out of the way. 

Installing New Boat Carpet

Once that is done that you can then begin working on installing the new carpet which you selected earlier. Here are the key instructions for putting down new carpet in your boat. 

The first thing that you should do is begin applying adhesive to the areas of your deck where you will be installing the carpet. The majority of marine-grade adhesives require you to apply them to the decking rather than the carpet itself, but it is always best to check the specific instructions for the type of adhesive that you are using.

After that has been applied, you can then begin to apply the carpet pieces which have already been cut to the appropriate size and shape for your boat. We recommend working in sections for this as otherwise, it can become more difficult than it needs to be. 

When you have finished laying the carpet, you should then take a step back and look for any bubbles or wrinkles. These are usually easy to spot and can be easily resolved by lifting that area of carpet and re-sticking it down. You must do this quickly after laying the carpet as some adhesives dry incredibly quickly. 

Once you are satisfied with the appearance of your carpet, and there are no wrinkles or bubbles left then you can begin stapling the edges down. This keeps the carpet intact and prevents the edges from lifting which commonly happens with carpet. 

Finally, you can then begin reinstalling all the different elements of your deck that you had to remove to lay the carpet. But ensure you check the diagram that you drew earlier to ensure that everything ends up back in the right place if you want the experience to be stress-free. 


In short, replacing boat carpet can be a daunting task, but once you take a look at everything you need to do it isn’t actually as hard as it seems.

Follow this guide and the process will be simple. 

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