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Marine Upholstery: Trends That Are Here To Stay

Configuring your boat is an exciting time, but it’s often a confusing one. You might want fabrics that look appealing, last a long time and are easy to clean. It’s not easy to satisfy all these demands in the challenging marine environment, but innovation in the marine fabrics industry has put products on the market that can meet your needs.

Canvas: The Original Marine Fabric

The history of marine fabrics begins with canvas. Canvas is a heavy fabric that is closely woven, giving it a wide variety of uses.

The word “canvas” comes from the Arabic word for cannabis, which is Latin for “hemp”.

Canvas has an extremely simple weave, involving one thread going over and then under the other. This produces a very durable and often water-resistant fabric.

Hemp is the oldest fabric-yielding plant in the world. As far back as 3000 B.C., the Chinese were making cloth out of hemp. Records show that in 1500 B.C. India cotton was being weaved into fabrics. The Saracens and Moors from North Africa brought cotton to Europe. Cotton canvas was made into ship sails in Barcelona and Venice, and the practice soon spread throughout Europe.

The Introduction Of Synthetics- 19th Century

Scientists first created synthetic fibers in the 19th century. Synthetic fibers are fabricated from synthesized polymers or small molecules as opposed to natural or organic fibers which come from plants such as cotton or insect silk. The first widely available synthetic fiber-Nylon was developed by DuPont and Wallace Carothers in the 1930s as a replacement for silk. Since then, four synthetic fibers have come to dominate the market:

  • Polyester

  • Acrylic

  • Nylon

  • Polyolefin

Acrylic and polyester are the most popular synthetic fibers used in the production of yacht fabric. They tend to be significantly more durable than natural fibers.

They can also offer stretching, waterproofing, stain-resistance and — when treated properly — UV and UVB resistance. Boat fabrics made with synthetic fibers are constantly being improved, ensuring today’s fabrics perform better in harsh marine conditions than their predecessors.

Innovations-Boat Fabric Trends Inside

The acrylic fabrics used most often in today’s marine applications are called “solution dyed acrylics”. This refers to their manufacturing process.

The fabric does not begin as a colorless or neutrally colored fabric, only to be dyed whatever color the manufacturer chooses, such as cotton.

The solution from which the acrylic fibers are made is green, so the fabric is green from its inception.

Coated materials —

usually vinyl coated polyester or vinyl

and polyester composites —

are also very popular.

These polyesters are typically woven in their standard color and then the desired color is applied using a coating substance.

Because they have a top coat, these composites tend to be less breathable than acrylics but offer superior performance in other areas.

You may want to think outside the box when it comes to the interior. Trends are moving towards a wider variety of fabrics in clothing and home design - leather, suede, cotton or linen for boat interior.

While these fabrics can work in certain applications if they’re maintained, you'll need to understand that even their boat’s interior is still a marine environment plagued by dirt, moisture and mildew.

Leathers and suede have very particular cleaning and treating requirements, while cotton and linen have issues with wrinkling and durability.While using these fabrics, some benefits such as softness or fit with upholstery trends, they also come with maintenance drawbacks. You’ll want to make sure you are educated about the unique challenges these fabrics will face in the marine environment.

Vinyl fabrics, however, are the main choice of marine interior fashion because of its resistance to mold, mildew, insects, chemicals, moisture and oils. It is also anti-microbial, providing a safe and clean environment for the boat’s interior. They offer low absorbency, excellent abrasion resistance and high strength while coming in a wide variety of textures and colors. With such features, it’s no wonder that vinyl coated polyester fabrics are a popular choice in boat fabric trends.

Which Trends Are Here to Stay?

Marine Fabricator Magazine reported last year on the prominence of bold colors in requests and yacht fabric fashions. Lime, bright orange, purples and magenta, as well as lighter, brighter blues have started to become a popular trend. Experts don’t expect these hues to become marine fabric mainstays such as neutrals, blacks, navy blues and reds, but they are increasing in popularity.

Fashion-forward fabrics — such as jewel tones and batik-style fabric — are also making waves on the yacht fabric scene. While it’s unusual to see exotic looks like these used in large on-board applications, small cushions or interior accents could be places where fashion-forward fabrics work well.

Boat style tends to mirror home market trends — but in a muted way. While an entire sofa or bed-spread is popular in a bold, exotic print, it's unlikely to be as bold with their marine style. Color and pattern trends will filter down, but they are more common in accent.

With marine fabric and style options growing every day, it’s easy to get confused about what fabrics are right for your project. Threadz Nola can help guide you through the process of choosing materials, patterns and colors that will make your yacht or boat durable and attractive.

We stock marine upholstery fabrics that are designed with marine applications in mind. If you’re looking for fabric for reupholstering boat cushions or creating mold- and mildew-resistant drapery in the cabin of your boat, you’ll appreciate our selection of stylish marine-grade fabric offering a home décor appeal. We even have water-resistant fabric that’s appropriate for covers, upholstery and DIY shade projects in outdoor environments.

Threadz Nola is family-owned and operated, specializing in custom Upholstery, Drapery, and Décor. We are a woman and minority-owned business, servicing New Orleans Yacht Club, Southern Yacht Club & clients across the United States. Our team is made up of master upholsterers and seamstresses with over 30 years of combined experience and a passion for craftsmanship.

Give Us A Call At (504) 717-8180.

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