Cockpit vs. Cabin Cushion Fabric Choices

We’ve discussed before the various considerations that go into selecting the best fabric for your cockpit cushions. Today we’re going to take that conversation a step further by looking at how the decision making process for your cockpit cushion fabric compares to choosing a fabric for your cabin. Each area of your boat has its own unique challenges and concerns and we’re going to break down what to look for in a fabric for your cockpit and cabin cushions.

In the Cockpit

Cockpit vs. Cabin Cushion Fabric

The cockpit is exposed to much more moisture and sunlight than your cabin cushions so creating cushions with good longevity in the elements is the main goal of selecting a cockpit cushion fabric. Look for a fabric with excellent UV resistance and good water resistance. The exact level of water resistance in a fabric can vary based on what foam you intend to use with it. For example, closed cell foam can be covered in any fabric, because the foam itself is waterproof, but Dry Fast Foam is designed to let water run through it, so covering it in a waterproof vinyl isn’t the norm.

For cockpit cushions we recommend using a marine vinyl like Morbern Seabrook or Naugahyde All-American; a weatherproof woven synthetic like the acrylic Sunbrella Marine Grade fabrics; or a sturdy vinyl mesh like Phifertex Plus.

In the Cabin

Cockpit vs. Cabin Cushion Fabric

Since your cabin is more protected from the elements than your cockpit, moisture and sunlight are lesser concerns for cabin cushions. The two main things to think about when selecting your cabin cushions are preventing mildew and feeling comfortable. To keep mildew at bay, avoid natural fibers like cotton or any cotton blends. Choose a synthetic material instead like acrylic, olefin or polyester. These fibers won’t allow mildew to grow. Also, you won’t need a waterproof fabric in your cabin, but depending on how you use your boat, you may want a water resistant fabric, if your cushions get wet from time to time.

Comfort is definitely the second biggest factor for cabin cushions. If your boat is your home or home away from home, you’ll want to feel relaxed and cozy aboard. For many, this means cushions with a softer feel than can be found on traditional marine grade materials. Breathable woven fabrics or engineered faux leathers are popular for boat interiors. Examples of these fabrics include: Sunbrella Upholstery, Geobella and Ultraleather. You can also use a home décor fabric if it’s made from synthetic materials and has a high double rub rating (we recommend over 50,000 double rubs).

These guidelines still offer a lot of room for personal style and preferences, and hopefully they will free you up to choose fabrics that you love and that function perfectly for the spaces they live in.


If you’re ready to start making new cockpit or salon cushions, be sure to watch our how-to videos on each of those projects to get you started. You’ll also find all the fabrics discussed here and many more at Sailrite.com.

What do you look for in cockpit or cabin cushion fabrics? Share your opinions in the comments!

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