Simple but Effective Flooring and Seat Carpeting

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Cap'n Pete

May 17, 2016
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As so many before me, one of the first things I was looking to do after bringing home my new "tin boat"- a Starcraft SL12 to be exact- was hatch a plan to pad the seats and floor. We all know how hot a metal surface gets on a sunny day, and skin grafts are not normally part of the plan for those hoping to spend a day on the water, so something has to be done- but how? It seems a more common method is to build a wooden frame, cover it with plywood, and cover it with carpet. Of course any old salt will quickly point out you just added a ton of weight you'll need additional power to push around, not to mention a bit more maintenance, robbing one's leisure time which could better be spent enjoying the boat instead of working on it. Of course, you already knew all that- but I needed an introduction, right?

First, a little background info: I'm still a kid stuck in an old man's body- one that got used up way too young but I'm still paying for- so switching to a small boat that's light, easy to maintain, and cheap to keep wound up making me the happy owner of a new Starcraft SL12 semi-V utility boat. I've still got my fleet of kayaks and canoes, but living on the ocean in RI means many more breezy days than calm ones, so a small boat was in order to take advantage of low tides for clamming and high ones for fishing than the yaks allow. Pushing 60 and having averaged about 80 active hours a week since I was in my 20's means I'm also sore, worn out, and unable to even set down into a cockpit most days, so yeah, a nice little open tin boat made more and more sense until I actually did grab one! Of course, I'm still not sure I can actually USE the thing with all my physical BS, but I'm determined to try!

That of course brings me back to the subject of my post- how to carpet my new toy and make it comfortable, but also not "customize" it to the point that if I do indeed wind up selling it that I'm not trying to pass along a boat drilled chock full of holes for stuff a potential new owner would never want. Proof I'm getting old: I decided to take my time and THINK about it, rather than rush in and add a bunch of stuff I might replace later, while leaving scars (drilled holes, etc) which would surely detract from both beauty and value.

With well over 50 years experience woodworking and over 30 with metal, CAD at my disposal and a fridge full of beer, it was time to hatch a plan. I happened upon this forum almost immediately upon searching for ideas, and a lot of you folks sure have built some nice rigs, many of which I'd love to own, but couldn't handle due to worn out shoulders and blown out disks in my back, so I decided my mods must follow a list of criteria I adopted for all of my outdoor projects, which I'll list in order of their priority:

1. Function. If it doesn't make it more enjoyable, easier- as in reducing heavy lifting, etc- and/or allow me to continue enjoying my hobby longer, it's probably not worth pursuing.

2. Cost. Living on a fixed income and a small budget for "toys" means any project must deliver a high enjoyment/enhancement to cost ratio, or it'll likely remain just a pipe dream.

3. Durability. Heck, I'm getting tired of fixing things! I used to work 55 or so hours then spend another 60 or 70 fixing things for me and everyone else. If what I build lasts 5 years now, it'll probably outlast me. Good enough!

4. Desirability. Is it nice enough that when I can't use it, the next guy will want to? Picturing a boat full of torn-off accessories and a hundred empty drilled holes not only says "ugly", it says the previous owner didn't really put a whole lot of thought into what he was doing- perhaps it's just best to shop elsewhere. Even it it stays with the kids, I'd rather not pass along the impression I was just a hack.

With those criteria in mind I began looking at other boats, all sorts of products, and techniques, eventually forming my plan: create a padded floor and seating which will allow me to add my swivel seats later if I decide to keep the boat, while keeping the boat as close to original as possible in case I don't. Carpet was the obvious choice, but how to attach it? As a lifelong woodworker, a wooden frame was my first thought, but there was that pesky weight issue. PVC framing was my second idea, and I even began forming ribs to build a frame I would cover with foam and then carpet- light, waterproof, and functional.

The curves, along with the ribs that form the hull were challenges which I could overcome, but suddenly it hit me- keep it simple. REAL simple- and an even better way emerged. I had some strips of leftover floor mat I had just bought for my trailer bunks which are perfect for flooring- they're soft rubber which forms easily around the ribs- especially when it gets warm in the sun- and the carpet on top is very comfortable on bare feet. Two additional carpets and my entire boat would be lined with material which would serve to dampen noise, protect the hull, look good, and leave no trace upon removal! The cost would be under $30, yet they would function as well as a huge flooring project would yield.

As for the bench seats, I already have swivel seats and mounts, but at this stage I refuse to drill any holes until I'm sure how I want to mount them. The debate on center-mount, offset-mount, or adjustable mount is over- I'll opt for Gen5 adjustable mounts, but ONLY if the boat proves enjoyable and I can handle launching it, so for now I'm looking at simple carpet covering the benches to prevent burns. Many would grab a can of marine glue and have that carpet down in no time, but again, what if I don't keep it? Pulling that carpet out will make for a real mess it the new owner wants to change it...
A few beers later, and I had the cure: removable carpet which leaves no footprints at all. A simple combination of brass grommets, spare webbing, and some spare buckles created the perfect removable seat. Best of all, each cover only costs about 3 bucks!!

The grand total to line the entire hull and carpet all 3 bench seats came out to under $70. $30 for the two heavy-duty mats that line the boat, another $30 for enough indoor/outdoor carpet to wrap the benches, some brass grommets and enough nylon webbing to tie them beneath the benches. The total weight I added to the boat is under 5 pounds. As for beauty, it arrived in many forms: the carpet was available in a color that matches the factory-painted hull, and even better, the entire system can be installed or removed in mere minutes, no tools required. Replacement cost when the carpet gets old will run about $20- I had bought extra this time- so yeah, I consider the entire project to be a beautiful thing!

floor_mat.jpg This floor mat is available at many stores for about $15. The soft rubber base lets it conform nicely to the curved hull. Little trimming was required, and easily done with sharp scissors.

hardware.jpg The hardware I used is common nylon webbing (I used scraps left over from making custom length tie-downs for my kayaks, but it can be bought in various lengths for little money). A complete grommet kit can be had for a few bucks and will serve to make many seat pads, as you only need them about every 6 inches or so.

Here the grommets have been installed into the carpet which was trimmed to fit each bench. seat_grommets.jpg

The webbing is simply weaved through the grommets shoelace-style once the carpet is wrapped over each bench. Pass the webbing through a no-sew buckle, pull it tight, and you have a nice snug-fitting custom carpeted bench in just a few minutes! They can be removed and replaced as often as you desire for cleaning or to keep them out of the rain.

An unexpected shower hit while I was assembling the last bench carpet, so I quit for the day and headed in to write this post; Tomorrow I will finish the last cover and post pics of the final outcome.

Happy boating!


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Great idea and I admire your spunk at your age to continue to not give in and just keep going - so kudos to you!

I agree with that 'simple is better' approach and as a bonus, it keeps excess weight off the boat. I'm semi-stunned on here when I see the hundreds of pounds of framing/decking weight that people add to little boats ...
carpet1.jpgAs promised, a couple pics of the carpets installed.

Just for the fun of it I did try using stretch cord on one, which works but I decided to stick with the webbing instead. The floor mats are heavy enough to just lay down and conform pretty nicely, so I just trimmed a couple edges but didn't spend a lot of time on that, since they'll be removed every trip for rinsing/cleaning anyway.

I guess it's ready for the maiden voyage; if all goes well I'll go ahead with the swivel seats, fish finder, BBQ pit and hot tub... at this point I'm in no rush!

BTW, it's been a few years since I've signed into a forum, so I can't remember how to reply to an individual post yet- so please accept my apology. Thanks for the welcome, and Dale, I'm not that old, I just used everything up too soon! :LOL2:

Heck, I also just had about a 6mm kidney stone before taking the pics... SO tired of those things!


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Looks good. Great idea using the grommets and webbing. Those owners with open seats should take note of that.

At 60, you are still a youngster. Lots of boating ahead of you.

richg99 (76 years)
ouch on the kidney stone!! have not had the pleasure of one of those yet!

boat looks great, the simple is the best. I overdid mine lol

to reply to individual posts, click on the "quote" button (upper right of the post you want to reply to)
Capt'n Pete and his 12 foot fleet
Had an idea that couldn't be beat.

He wanted good, nice-looking and neat
So he made some clothes to protect his seat.

Nice, clever, job.

=D> =D> =D>
gunpackinpanda said:
man that looks NICE!

Thanks Gunny, I do like the look, especially at the price and labor involved. Once I get out (hopefully within a couple days or so) I'll see if I should keep going and install seats or not, but man, the look of them now makes me almost ready to stop right here- I guess it's a matter of how sore the ole back gets out there...

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perchjerker said:
ouch on the kidney stone!! have not had the pleasure of one of those yet!

boat looks great, the simple is the best. I overdid mine lol

to reply to individual posts, click on the "quote" button (upper right of the post you want to reply to)

Ah, so that's what that word is- "quote"- LOL! Even with this 32" 1080I TV for a monitor that word is so fuzzy I never paid attention, figured I'd spend more time on the forum stuff later on. Thanks big time for the help, I really appreciate it.

Overdone, eh? Sounds like the pvc dolly I made for my 16' yak. It started as a simple frame, then I added "wings", then I added some uprights, then I added spring-loaded SS pins to break it all down for storage... Then I got smart and ripped it all apart and made it into a dolly for the canoe instead! I can't trust that my shoulder won't give out halfway across the bay, so I grabbed a nice canoe and set it up with a trolling motor. The wife loves that rig, so I've got backup in case she doesn't like the new boat. Of course the new boat is to replace the other new boat that tossed her into the pond just 20' from shore when I reached around to pull the starter rope... NEVER buy a poly boat and use clamp-style seat mounts, they're deadly! Got rid of that boat 3 days after the maiden voyage, hence my concern with trying to coax her into another rig, but at least the StarCraft is a decent design, so hopefully we have some fun. We're surrounded by bays and salt water rivers everywhere, but I sure miss the freshwater ponds I grew up with all over southeastern MA. This boat is perfect for those, I really should head back for some bass fishing.

Perchjerker... I LOVE it!
Kismet said:
Capt'n Pete and his 12 foot fleet
Had an idea that couldn't be beat.

He wanted good, nice-looking and neat
So he made some clothes to protect his seat.

Nice, clever, job.

=D> =D> =D>

Here once again I have come to make way
to a forum of subjects at which I do play

When along comes a member who greets me with prose,
much like before him a friend whom arose

For my name is now Cap'n, a title which grew
When I had written of ventures in my Coleman Scanoe

A man from New Jersey and I became friends,
simply because empties came home at all ends
I had firmly believed that one's trash should come home,
and not pollute waters which we do not own

I was soon dubbed as Cappy, in charge of my ship,
A 15 foot canoe so wide it won't flip

Cross the bays and the rivers, in search of some clams,
fear not the sea monkeys, sunken logs, or low dams

For I am now captain of my one vessel fleet,
so happy that day that our two lives did meet.


Your post is so reminiscent of the first post I got from a guy who I came to call my brother it's amazing. I had simply told of a trip out clamming on the bay when I had my 5.5 hp outboard on the Scanoe (15-8 Coleman square-back poly canoe), and how I had a hull half full of clams, the other half empty IPA bottles upon returning from a day on the bay. I was greeted with a warm welcome thanking me for bringing my garbage back to shore, unlike so many who think it's OK to toss it overboard, and we were soon trading anecdotes about our respective fishing ventures- his around NJ and NY, while mine were along the shores of RI and back in southeastern MA and Cape Cod. He named me Cap'n Pete, which quickly became Cappy, as others logged on- the name by which I was known to all my online friends for nearly 2 decades. It was pretty amazing how life-changing such a seemingly mundane chain of events would turn out: I had simply brought my empty bottles home from a day on the water, bought a new PC with a modem (it was a whopping 2400-baud!!) and searched the word "beer" using Prodigy, years before the internet was even born yet. That ended with my getting to know some of the finest people on the entire planet, almost all of which have spent many times together in person as a result, even though we live all over from Florida to Alaska. It was not without serious consideration beforehand that I decided to join a new forum after so many years having left them all in the past, but the community here called to me, and I am glad to have had the good sense to join in.

Hopefully that made at least some sort of sense, it's over 80 degrees and too hot to read back & fix it!
Hey Cappy, glad to have brought your old friend back to mind.
I've come to think of friends who are gone as gifts to my life, some so rich I surely did not deserve them.

The "verse" comes from an incurable infestation of "Burma Shave Inciditous" which afflicted me in my youth on the highways of Wisconsin. It is chronic, but I fight it.

This is compounded by the verse of Ogden Nash which seeped into my mind and corroded a lot of synapses. An abbreviated example of Nash's genius:

Whales have calves, cats have kittens
Swans have cygnets, dogs have puppies

But guppies just have little guppies.

Be well and safe.