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Boat Seats 101: Choosing Right and Maintenance

Motor Yacht Seats

Boat seats are more than just a place to sit when you’re on the water. Depending on the type of craft, the right boat seats can enhance your comfort, offer better fishing opportunities, and update your boat’s interior style, increasing its value.

Choosing the right boat seat can be challenging. It depends on the function, size, number of passengers, and the style of your boat. Here is our guide to choosing boat seats and how to care for them to prolong their life once they’re installed.

Pontoon Boats Seats

Ideal for cruising calm, land-locked waterways, a pontoon boat is a great way to spend time with family and friends. The boat’s deck is mounted on pontoons, which provide added buoyancy and create a safer space for recreation. Pontoon boats typically have more usable square footage on the deck than other boat types allowing for the installation of bench seats, lounge chairs, stand up bars, and sunbeds.

Types of Pontoon Boat Seats
As pontoon boats are primarily a relaxation water vehicle, when it comes to choosing boat seats for a pontoon-based vessel, comfort is crucial. Pontoon boat seats are often modular to create a layout that optimizes the space. However, smaller vessels may benefit from adding folding boat seats to create added seating in the boat’s tight areas.

Bench-style pontoon boat seats are hollow structures often with a hinged lid offering added storage for equipment. Modern bench seats are made from pressurized wood or high-density plastic, which are lighter than older style plywood boat seats. The seats usually have thick cushions with waterproof upholstery for better comfort.

Maintaining Pontoon Boat Seats
Pontoon boats are often used for swimming, skiing, and other water sports, so their seats are often exposed to water. While pontoon boat seats are waterproof, they are still prone to developing mold and mildew over time if not cared for properly.

Pontoon boat seats should be cleaned after every trip to prevent larger issues from developing. Wash the seat with warm water and mild soap, and dry thoroughly before storing it in a well-ventilated area.

Fisherman Boat Seats

Experts recommend a non-chlorine based spray mold cleaner and a soft sponge to remove mildew stains. The spray dissolves mold colonies trapped in crevices and stitching, and they can be wiped away with the sponge. Do not use a scrub brush or abrasive sponge to remove mold. It creates tiny scratches in the upholstery, creating more surface area for mold to build-up.

Where to Buy Pontoon Boat Seats
There are several exceptional aftermarket boat seats available for pontoons from Wise if you plan to upgrade or replace your pontoon boat seats. Wise boat seats are available on Amazon or Walmart, and the Wise website offers a free deck designer app to optimize your boat seating layout.

Wise Boat Seats on Amazon

Bass Boat Seats

Bass boats are primarily designed for freshwater fishing in lakes, rivers, and streams. The lightweight crafts need to maneuver effortlessly through narrow areas and are open on all sides to allow fishermen to cast in any direction.

Types of Bass Boat Seats
A fishing boat requires a more flexible type of seating than a pleasure vessel. Bass boat seats are typically mounted on a pedestal that should swivel to provide casting opportunities from every angle. Simultaneously, folding chairs are a space-saving design that can accommodate fishing buddies and their gear.

Instead of a single captain’s seat, a bass boat will often have a forward-facing cushioned bench boat seat for the skipper and passengers. Padded bucket bench seats provided added support and body form comfort while boating on choppy water. You can select the upholstery to suit your style, whether you prefer camo boat seats to blend with your fishing gear or two-tone boat seats to give the boat’s interior a more sporty look.

Maintaining Bass Boat Seats
Bass boat seats are often covered in vinyl for their durability and style. But, to maintain the appearance of the upholstery, you need to perform some preventative maintenance and cleaning after every fishing adventure.

Use a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent dissolved in warm water and a soft sponge to remove and minor stains. Dry with a towel and leave to dry in the shade; direct sunlight may crack the vinyl. Apply a vinyl conditioner twice per year, and keep your bass boat covered when in long-term storage.

Where to Buy Bass Boat Seats
For boat seats beyond repair, the best option is to remove them and install high-quality replacement boat seats for your bass fishing craft. You can find a vast range of boat seats for sale at Walmart at affordable prices. One of the best brands for bass boats is Millennium Boat Seats. They carry a variety of tough aluminum bass boat seats that can mount to any seat pedestal.

Millenium Boat Seats at Walmart

Choosing the Right Size and Style

It is essential to find the right boat seat style to suit your boat’s dimensions, function, and aesthetic. There are several styles to choose from depending on your needs, including:

Bench Seats
Bench seats are the most commonly used boat seats and are suitable for almost any watercraft. They are usually hollow to reduce their weight, and this allows you to store life jackets, fishing gear, coolers, and other boating essentials inside the boat bench seat. The added storage prevents clutter on the deck for a safer boating experience.

Back-to-Back Boat Seats
Back-to-back seats utilize a single seatback with two opposing seats. These are a great choice to increase the passenger capacity on any sized craft. Many styles of back-to-back boat seats can convert to a lounge or fold to free up deck space. Because convertible versions have multiple moving parts, look for boat seats constructed from OEM-grade foam, pressurized wood or plastic, and stainless steel.

Captain’s Seat
Captain’s chairs usually feature thickly clustered seat cushions for added comfort and body form bucket seats to improve ergonomics. You can find an assortment of chairs that slide and adjust the height and back support to suit the skipper’s needs. For extra comfort, look for padded armrests of anodized aluminum mounts and an attached footrest.

Swivel Seats
Swivel seats are used at the rear of the boat and are mounted to seat pedestals for easy movement. These fishing boat seats have a low-padded back for lumbar support while offering flexible casting positions without a high seatback obstruction.

Folding Boat Seats
Folding boat seats are ideal for use on smaller crafts with limited space. The seat is hinged and folds easily into the seat back on the boat’s side, leaving plenty of room for people to move around the deck. Ensure the hinges are constructed of stainless steel or anodized aluminum to prevent rust from causing the folding mechanism to stick.

Lounge Chairs
Lounge chairs are reclining seats suitable for pleasure boats. They are designed for relaxation and are a stylish addition to any pontoon, yacht, or sailboat. However, what they offer in style, they lack in function. Lounge chairs are quite bulky and limit the space available on your craft.

How to Maintain Your Boat Seats

Caring for your boat seats prolongs their lifespan and minimizes your boat’s depreciation.

While most high-quality boat seats are made from rugged UV and water-resistant materials, they are still prone to staining and can develop mold. This is especially true of fishing boats’ seats, which can build up mud, grime, and debris from cleaning fish onboard.

Be sure to clean your seats in addition to the rest of your boat after each trip. Use warm water mixed with a little dishwashing detergent and a soft sponge and wipe down the seats to clean out where the seat and backrest meet and underneath the seat. Rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly.

Do not use bleach, Windex, or ammonia-based products as they can deteriorate the color of the vinyl and damage stitching.

Preventative Maintenance
Many boat seats are upholstered in vinyl or high-performance marine fabrics. Although durable, these fabrics need conditioning 2-3 times per year to maintain their supple appearance and prevent cracking.

Another way to prevent cracking and peeling boat seats is to use a boat seat cover and a mooring cover for your boat when not in use.

Lubricate hinges and seat pedestals before long term storage and before using the boat for the first time in the spring. This reduces pressure on the mechanism and helps the boat seats to move smoothly.

If cracks appear in the vinyl, you can perform emergency repairs on the water using duct tape, but this is only a temporary solution. Permanently repairing vinyl seats reduces moisture build-up on the foam inside and prevents deterioration. You can quickly fix your vinyl boat seats using a vinyl patch kit.

Create the Right Foundation for Your Boat Seats
Long-lasting, quality boat seats must start with the right foundation. Boat carpet can retain moisture, mud, and grime, wear down or sustain damage, exposing the boat seat pedestals and attachments to water. Prolonged exposure to moisture leads to corrosion, which can spread to other areas of your boat.

The best boat carpet replacement should be durable, weatherproof, textured for added grip and safety, and visually appealing. Durabak is a polyurethane coating that is the choice of the US Navy and is specially formulated for easy application and long-lasting results. It can be applied to plywood, aluminum, and fiberglass boat frames and will not crack or peel over time.

Durabak comes in smooth and textured varieties. It is recommended that you apply a smooth base coat with a textured finish to provide grip to your boat deck. It is also available in a huge range of colors to suit the style of your boat. If you can’t find the premixed color you need, you can easily tint or blend Durabak to create the shade you want.

Durabak marine paint is non-corrosive, so it will protect your deck and boat components from rust to preserve your craft’s longevity. It also insulates the boat from the sun and has noise-dampening properties.

The Bottom Line

The best boat seat for your craft should match the boat’s purpose, whether you use it for fishing, watersports, or entertaining. But to get the most out of your boat seats, it is crucial to clean them regularly, perform preventative maintenance, and have the right foundation to install your seats.

Durabak is the right choice as a boat carpet replacement or your boat floor. It will prolong the life of not only your boat seats but also your boat. The non-skid surface is safe, easy-to-clean, and even easier to apply. Call us at (303) 690-7190 to find out about the range of Durabak products and learn more about boat restoration on our educational blog series.

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  • Hi, I need a new captain’s chair for my 2004 stingray DR 220 23’3". So many out there but I need to know what size fits since I can’t buy the original chair. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    Guy Christopher Lassen
  • Marc, I like that you said I should clean my boat’s upholstery after every fishing adventure and do preventive maintenance to ensure it lasts long. My dad plans on having the upholstery of his boat seats replaced soon. I’ll share this advice of yours with him later to ensure that the new upholstery would be properly maintained. Thanks.

    Levi Armstrong

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