How To Remove Boat Carpet

It’s summertime, and school is finally out! You get a few days off of work to take the family on a vacation. Your kids and their friends have dirty, muddy shoes that ruin the carpet on your boat. So, what do you do

You could keep the carpet there – but what an eyesore that would be! You could put some furniture over the muddy spots, but that requires you to spend money on what is only a temporary fix. Instead, why not remove the boat’s carpet?

This may seem like a daunting task, but it is actually quite simple to do! All you need is some time, money, and patience. Keep reading to find out how to remove a boat’s carpet!

Why Should I Even Carpet My Boat?

Vinyl is a popular choice for boats. It is easy to maintain, keep clean, and install.

However, vinyl is very easy to slip on when it gets wet. You do not want any passengers to slip and fall on your boat, especially if there are children on board. It’s very easy for kids to bring water onto your boat – you don’t want anyone hitting their head on equipment or falling overboard because of vinyl floors!

Vinyl floor is also quite easy to puncture. Suppose you are making something to eat, and you drop your knife on the floor. You now have an unsightly mark on your vinyl floor.

Carpeted floors are far superior to vinyl floors. They provide easier traction, are more comfortable, and are not as noisy.


When you’re on a boat, you are going to experience getting wet. Carpeted boats provide great traction, even with a wet floor!

This reduces the risk of someone falling and injuring themselves, especially children, and adults who may have had one too many to drink.


Carpeted boats are more comfortable than other alternatives, like vinyl. Carpets are softer and feel nicer against your toes.

It also makes the boat feel more like a home, which in turn leads to the passengers feeling more relaxed. There’s nothing quite like a nice, relaxed, summer’s day on the water.


Marine carpet makes less noise when compared to vinyl when people are walking on it.

This is especially important when you are napping on your boat, trying to forget your stresses. You don’t need loud footsteps to wake you up and make you cranky!

Be aware that carpeted boats can lead to odors, stains, and rotting.

However, by regular cleaning and maintenance, discussed later in the article, this will all be avoided and you will have some awesome carpet for your boat!

How Often Should I Replace My Boat’s Carpet?

You should replace your boat’s carpet every few years. Think about it – your boat will have dirt from people’s shoes, exposure to the harsh elements of the aquatic environment, and other elements.

This will attract nasty odors, molds and mildews, and unattractive stains. Even if you clean your boat regularly, you should still replace the carpet every few years.

To actually install the carpet on your boat, it could take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. You likely will also have to order the particular carpet that you like, and wait for it to be delivered to you. Working on the boat outside also can lead to delays, due to the weather.

In other words, don’t rush to replace your boat’s carpet.

Some Things To Consider Before Removing Your Boat’s Carpet

As mentioned earlier, this is going to be a decision that will last you at least a few years. So, make sure you are knowledgeable about everything.

Order carpet samples in advance.

How often have you ordered something online, just to have it arrive and not be the perfect match?

It’s the same thing for boats! Colors on websites may not be accurate to what you actually want, and you can’t get a feel for the texture of the boat carpet, either. Not to mention, the product description of the carpet may sound better than it actually is.

Some companies offer free carpet samples. Usually, they will offer you a limit on how many you can get. Boat samples are typically a 5-inch square and arrive within 5-10 business days.

However, if you are willing to pay, you can get a sample for 25 cents! The website even allows you to choose your size. You can choose from 16, 20, 24, textured 20, and “luxury” 28-ounce samples. Each of those sizes come in a variety of colors


You may think it is easier to place an order for a new carpet with the manufacturer of the boat.

However, this will get very pricey very quickly. When you are ordering carpet for a boat, specifically a pontoon, make sure you order twice as much carpet as you think you need.

Carpet Ounce Weight

Carpet ounce wright tells you how many fibers are contained in the carpet.

In general, a dense, heavy carpet will be more durable and last longer than thin, light carpet. For the most sturdy carpet (similar to this 20oz carpet), try to get carpet in the range between 18 and 20 ounces.

How To Remove Old Boat Carpet

Before actually removing the boat carpet, study it. For example, is the carpet glued? How have the edges been affixed? If the carpet is glued down, make sure you take the first measurements before taking the carpet off, otherwise, you may tear the carpet while attempting to remove it.

Now that you know how the carpet is actually connected to the boat, you should first check your boat trailer for stability.

After all, a boat weighs a lot, and you do not want anything to happen to the boat while you are in it (or, right after you get out of it)!

After you have checked the trailer, disconnect the boat’s battery. If there is any tackle on the boat, make sure you unload that, as well.

Next, use your cell phone to take pictures of anything that you are removing. This is going to make it easier for when you are putting things back – rather than relying on memory, you will have photographic evidence of where things go, and how they look.

This is an especially important step if you are disconnecting wire under the dash.

Then, remove all of the carpeted panels and hatches. Drill these out slowly if they are riveted, so you can avoid breaking them.

Check to see if you have a Ziploc bag. If you don’t have one, go get one now! This will be handy to keep your tools in while you are working on your boat.

While you are checking for a Ziploc bag, grab a heavy-duty staple remover. When you are removing staples from your boat’s carpeting, use a gentle twisting motion.

Pick a corner to start in, cross your fingers, and see if the carpet pulls up easily. Work slowly and carefully as you gently lift the carpet.

Keep each piece you lift, as it will serve as a pattern for the new carpet you are getting. You should also use the old carpet to cut the new carpet more accurately and more easily when the time comes.

If the carpet does not pull up easily, grab a tool like a utility knife, or a vibrating, all-purpose tool with a scraper blade. Also grab your favorite playlist, or some friends, to make the time go faster while you are working on this!

As you are removing the pieces of carpet, label the back according to its location and orientation on the boat. One recommendation is to draw arrows that point to the bow of the boat.

Doing this will make your life a lot easier, and beginners tend to miss this step. Save yourself a lot of stress down the line by taking care of this as you do it.

Repeat the last three steps for every panel and every hatch. Don’t forget to label the orientation with arrows. This is another reason your playlist or friends come in – this is a tedious, but necessary step. You may as well chat or jam out while you are pulling up your carpets.

Check the bare deck for things like mildew, mold, and rot. If you see any problems, address them as needed before you continue.

Every last bit of adhesive residue needs to be removed before the new carpet is installed. There are a few ways to do this. You could use a heat gun or an orbit sander. However, a chemical glue solvent may be your best bet.

Some of these solvents are hard to clean up, and some solvents even soak into wood decks, making cleanup very challenging. Because of this, it is recommended that you call the manufacturer of your boat for advice on how to proceed.

Once you have found a good solvent, spray it over the adhesive and wait for a few minutes. With a scraper, take the residue off. Then, go through the residue with a soft cloth, to make sure that you absorb as much of the solvent as you possibly can.

Start to clean up right away once all of the residues are gone. To do this, first dry-mop the deck and wipe the hatches with an absorbent cloth. Next, use warm, soapy water and a soft brush to clean the deck thoroughly.

Once you are done, allow everything on the boat to dry. If at all possible, allow your boat to dry overnight. The new glue will not adhere to your boat unless everything is 100% dry, so it is better to be cautious.

What Kind Of Carpet Should I Get?

Boar carpet needs to be water-proof, durable, and hard-wearing. It can be overwhelming to decide which carpet is the one for you, though. Read on to help you pick out a replacement carpet.

Easy Installation

Since you are very likely not hiring someone to put a new carpet on your boat, this is likely important to you. So, you want to ensure that the carpet you get is easy to install on your type of boat. Make your life easier and ensure that your carpet comes with a pre-glued rubber backing or will snap onto the floor of your boat.

Superior Quality

As mentioned earlier, a carpet with a weight of 18-20 ounces is best for most boats. Heavy carpets like this have more fibers, have denser materials, and are of better quality than carpets that weigh less.

Also make sure that the carpet you choose has a decent rubber backing on it, to prevent any excess water or moisture from seeping onto your boat.


If you want a great carpet, make sure that you get one that is resistant to both stains and fading. Remember, carpets can be damaged by lots of things out of our control, like wear and tear and weather.

Good textures help prevent damage and provides a safe surface that isn’t slippery for you. You may be interested in getting a carpet that protects against ultraviolet rays, as well.

How To Measure Boat Carpet

Now that you know tips about the carpets you should get, let’s talk about actually measuring the boat carpet.

First, measure the widest carpeted area of your boat. Then, measure out the lengths of each additional piece that you want to be carpeted. Add some extra length for wrapping, and then finally chart everything out for a total number

Alternatively, some people like to measure the length of the carpeted area. After that, they will add 20% for an estimate of the total carpet that they would need.

Whichever method you choose to use, lay all your carpet in one direction. This allows you to follow the grain of your carpet – after all, you don’t want to have one section of your carpet stand out because it is a slightly different color!

How To Replace Boat Carpet

You’ve gotten rid of your old carpet, and gotten precise measurements for your boat. All that is left to do is replace the boat carpet! Follow these easy-to-follow steps in order to make replacing your boat carpet as headache-free as possible.

Before you begin, make sure that you have disposable gloves (preferably, vinyl) and a well-ventilated area to work.

Also, have a glue that is appropriate for marine carpet installation. Some glues, like latex glues, are water-soluble, which means that they won’t work for this project. Vacuum the contents of the boat’s floor. Wash, and then dry, the floor thoroughly.

After waiting for the floor to dry, unroll the new carpet completely on a clean, clear surface, and make sure the backing is facing up. If there are any lumps in the carpet once it is laid out, smooth them out before moving on to the next step.

After smoothing out make sure the carpet is oriented in the correct direction. Weigh down the corners after you mark arrows on the backing.

Place your old carpet templates on the new carpet, also with the backing up. Begin with the biggest pieces. Make sure that the orientation on both the carpets agrees. To prevent slipping, weigh down the patterns.

Trace each piece with a dark marker. When it comes to hatch and panel pieces, trace these a few inches bigger than the patterns. This allows for wrapping and securing the edges.

To cut the carpet, use a utility knife. Make sure that you replace the blade often to prevent unraveling and tears. Using a utility knife will allow for nice, clean cute. Loose fibers should be trimmed with scissors and not your fingers (as tempting as it may be to do so).

Lay out the pieces of carpet that will cover the deck before you apply any glue. Double-check that the carpet is smooth and that the edges correspond to the dimensions of the boat. Put a heavy object near the center; this is where you will begin.   

There may be small holes where the hardware was in place. Don’t worry about these – it is easy to drill holes into the carpet when it is being installed.

Roll the carpet to the heavy object gently without allowing the carpet to shift. Then, spray glue over a small area at the center of the deck. Unroll the carpet just enough to glue the center down.

Once you are sure that the center won’t shift around, apply glue to small areas. Work in sections from the center to the edges. If you need to press down the carpet, use a floor roller. If you can’t find one of those, a heavy can of beans will do the trick!

When it comes to hatches and panels, start in the center as well. Double-check the orientation of the carpet! Leave an even amount of carpet on all sides for fastening and tucking. Carpet clams or scrap wood can be used to make sure that the wrapping around the carpet’s edges stays glued.

Allow the glue to set for an hour or more. To prevent seepage, stay off the carpet. Go over it again with a roller in about an hour.

Do you have a vertical surface that you want to carpet? Not a problem! Use some spray contact adhesive to get an instant bond. Don’t forget to work slowly, as the bonds are instant, and you do not want to have to keep using it on the same spot over and over again.

How Do I Clean My Boat Carpet?

You’ve waited patiently and finally installed the boat carpet perfectly. So, how should you maintain all your hard work, to make sure it wasn’t all for nothing?

Seasonal Cleaning

If you are going to clean your boat carpet, the best time to do so is in the autumn. This is also the best time to clean your boat in general. Cleaning in the autumn allows you to sail your boat on the very first day of the season with a bright, shiny floor!

Making Small Repairs

First, look for obvious stains. These are usually darker splotches in an otherwise light area. They could also just look dirty.

Do you have any frayed edges? If you do, take some scissors or a sharp knife and trim the edge of your

boat carpet. As tempting as it is, do not rip edges out with your fingers.

Carpet Cleaning Basics

In order to clean a marine carpet, you will need the following:

  • Bucket
  • Garden hose
  • Soft brush
  • Gentle dish soap

Although they may look fancy, you do not need any expensive custom-cleaning products for your boat’s carpet. Do not buy a cleaner with any bleaches or other harsh detergents as an ingredient.

Make sure you have a good vacuum cleaner to get the sand and other grit out of the dirty carpet. It is recommended that you use a shop vac, as this will let you vacuum the dirt and also remove the water from your clean carpet.

It is risky to use a power washer on a boat. It is not easy to know before the actual cleaning if your boat would be able to handle the pressure. If you are going to use a power washer, though, make sure that you have tested it out gently!

Also, do not use a do-it-yourself carwash, nor should you take your stained boat through a carwash. The heat from the water and the nozzles could damage your carpet.

Spot cleaners are also risky to use. They can permanently set a stain if you aren’t fast enough to rinse it, and they can too harsh and stain or bleach areas of your carpet. If you are going to use a spot cleaner, test it on old pieces of marine carpet you may have leftover, or under a seat boat carpeted area. Rinse extremely well, and allow a few days between pre-testing and utilizing the spot cleaner on your main boat carpet, so to let any potential problems arise.

If you are cleaning the carpet on an older boat, do not use a power washer or hard scrubbing. The glue bond between the carpet’s backing and the boat itself does tend to break down over time.

Clean Regularly

Cleaning your marine carpet often will prevent discoloration and stains. Vacuuming lifts dirt before it can settle in, which helps keep the carpet looking bright and fresh.

Act quickly when you notice a new stain or spill. It is recommended that you keep a few old white towels on hand for this reason. Use the towels to blot up as much of the spill as you reasonably can. Rinse the towels with water and continue to blot until the stain is absorbed.

Cleaning Carpet Steps

First, remove all items on the boat that you would like to remain dry when you are cleaning the carpet. If you have floor lockers, empty those, as there may be leakage from the hose.

If you are on dry land, take your bilge plug out (and don’t forget to put it back in later). Perhaps put it in a location that you will not forget, like next to the dashboard, or placing it next to the keys to your boat.

Next, thoroughly vacuum the entire boat carpet. All the dirt should be out before you get the carpet wet. Otherwise, you will make more work for yourself because it’s likely that you will end up with muddy cleaning water.

Wet your boat carpet well working in medium-sized sections. Use the dish soap to apply it to a large sponge, which you should then blot around the carpet, soaking it. Next, follow the grain of the carpet and scrub to remove old stains and debris. Rinse well, then move on to the next medium-sized section.

After you finish each section, give your boat one final rinse over the entire surface. Remove all of the old soap – if you leave any left, it can act like a glue, which would keep dust on your carpet. Use your shop vac to remove the water. If you did not use a shop vac, let your boat dry in a warm, sunny area.

If you have a shop broom, use it to brush the carpet from back to front. This fluffs the carpet and makes it look nice.

Put the bilge plug back where it belongs. You don’t want water getting in where it shouldn’t be!

Now, you know all about boat carpet cleaning. You know that replacing your boat carpet every few years is a good idea, as well as considering a heavier carpet. You know how to measure and replace the boat carpeting, as well as how to clean the carpet regularly.

You are ready to install the carpet yourself! Be patient as you do, and perhaps bring a friend or two to make the time go by more quickly. Happy boating!