Refitting our Sailboat Interior: From an Antique Sailboat to a Floating Miami Beach House Style
Sailboat interiors have always had a tendency toward the traditional, which has always favoured real wood for as much of the fit out as possible. Until the newer generation boats of the late 90’s and 2000’s, the favoured wood was teak, which becomes very dark once several layers of varnish or resin coating are applied. With most boats having small openings for the portlights and limited hatches, the inside of the boat appears very dark, especially on cloudy days.
When we first bought Empress, this was exactly how we felt about the interior, except that there is very little real wood and most interior cabinetry is built out of 1970’s wood veneer on marine plywood. Durable, yes, but also dark, outdated and very uninviting. It also made an already small space appear to be much smaller than it really is. Our floorboards were another problem altogether, they were simply old and in poor condition, having been cut and modified to create extra access hatches.
The next problem, particularly with older boats, is the linings to the overhead and the interior of the hull. I will never understand the fascination with gluing vinyl linings in an environment where any adhesive is destined to fail with time, leaving a mess of saggy fabric, dropping corners and moisture stains. We needed a new direction entirely.
After trying to come up with various ways to make the boat feel bigger and brighter (more hatches, LED lighting, mirrors) we finally decided to go ahead and break one of the biggest taboos in the sailing world - PAINT THE INTERIOR!
Although this was a difficult pill to swallow at first, a stay in a Miami Beach hotel made the decision easy. Bright pastel colours and bright white edgings would open the space up and make it like stepping into a beach house! The tired old floorboards would be covered with a removable rug-style material that could be rolled up for access, or taken outside and sprayed down with water. The saggy old hull and overhead linings which were already falling apart would be ripped out and replaced with a similar material that could be removed and cleaned, then refitted.
MATERIALS WE USED ON REVAMPING SV EMPRESS
Revamping our 1971 sailboat is no easy task. We had to constantly look for materials which would best suit her condition and which would give us nothing but the best quality.
Flooring : Infinity Luxury Woven Vinyl - Better than Teak 2, Edge-bound with tan Sunbrella binding material from Sailrite which is templated into key areas of flooring for easy access, removal, and storage.
Overhead and Hull Linings : Infinity Luxury Woven Vinyl - Tatami, Edge-bound with tan Sunbrella binding material from Sailrite which is fitted using heavy duty velcro and stainless steel snap fittings, for easy access, removal and storage.
You can easily avail any of these products on Amazon or straight from their websites.
ABOUT THE COMPANIES AND THEIR PRODUCT RANGE
Kilz® has been making premium primers and paints for 40 years. It was named Paint Brand of the Year in 2015 in the Harris Poll EquiTrend Rankings. They offer top-of-the-line paints (with a hundred brilliant colors to choose from), primers, wood care products, and concrete coatings.
Behr® had been in the business since 1947. It is a dynamic company that actively embraces quality and innovation to bring the industry and their customers the very best products and services. They have interior and exterior paint & primer, wood stains, finishes, strippers & cleaners, floor coatings, sealers & prep, as well as specialty paints.
Infinity Luxury Woven Vinyl is a leading floor supplier to recreational (Marine & RV) and contract/hospitality industries. They have a diverse range of unique fabric designs and backing offerings. It has revolutionized the way flooring is viewed on a boat, in a recreational vehicle and in offices, homes, and surfaces worldwide. They have a wide range of upholstery, flooring, and canvas which will definitely suit your boat as well as your taste.
Sailrite was established in the year 1969 where it served as a source of instruction and materials for amateur sailmakers. Due to demand for affordable and quality products, they expanded and kept nurturing the business up until now. It is composed of a passionate crew of do-it-yourselfers who strive to equip and empower others to DIY for their own boats and homes. It is a one-stop-shop for all your DIY needs-- they have fabrics, sewing machines, sewing supplies, foams & pillows, hardware products, tools, adhesives, cordage, repair and maintenance tools, sail & canvas kits, as well as Sailrite gears.
PROS OF REFURBISHING OUR SAILBOAT’S INTERIOR
1. Kilz® Original Primer covered the water, smoke, and grease stains left on S/V Empress. It also helped block and seal odors! I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the musty and moldy smell of old wood-- that’s how our sailboat smells like the first time we had her. But since we used this primer, she now smells like brand new!
2. With the Kilz® Original Primer mildew resistant feature, we don’t have to worry about mildew growth from excessive moisture. We made sure to clean the mildew and mold on the surface and allowed the primer to dry completely before applying the paint. And voila, mildew growth is the least of our concern!
3. The Behr Marquee® Interior Paint in Satin Enamel Finish definitely gave our sailboat the Miami Beach Vibes we always wanted. The shades are as beautiful as what we imagined it to be. It gave us the well-deserved superior finish. No more dark and gloomy sailboat!
4. Painting usually takes a lot of time especially when you have to apply several coatings to achieve the color that you want. With Behr Marquee® Interior Paint's one coat color guarantee, we didn’t have to go through the ordeal of painting and painting and painting again. It saved us a whole lot of time, money and energy. The paint is premium and it looked vibrant with just one coat!
5. The Infinity Luxury Woven Vinyl in Better Than Teak 2 looks stunning with S/V Empress’ new shade. The colors opened up the space more and it looked bigger and brighter. We now didn’t have to worry about the flooring getting dirty as it can be easily rolled up, removed, and cleaned. It is also antimicrobial, soil, and stain resistant, perfect for a sailboat!
6. We didn’t want to use glue for vinyl linings especially in our sailboat where it is prone to moisture which almost guarantees its rapid wear and tear. The Sunbrella Binding Material in Tan from Sailrite finished the material perfectly. The heavy duty velcro, also from Sailrite, was sewn onto the back of the Infinity Luxury Woven Vinyl using Sailrite clear monofilament thread, so you can't even see it! It’s neat, sleek, and it wouldn’t leave any stain on our flooring as well as overhead and hull linings like what a glue does.
CONS OF REFURBISHING OUR SAILBOAT’S INTERIOR
1. It can be an expensive investment - The old adage of, "you get what you pay for," is especially true in the boating world! Just so you know, the full cost of refurbishing S/V Empress is going to be about twice the price we bought her for, but that's not at all unusual for a 46 year old boat. High quality materials cost more, but they will last longer in a marine environment. We also chose a very non-standard application and installation method, which increased labour costs. But you know what, it's worth it for the finish we have, with not a drop of glue anywhere in sight!
2. It takes a lot of time- Fixing the flooring, the header, and the walls already took two precious months of our time. And we’re not even done yet! Once again, for us, this is an investment into our home.
Overall, I think we have used the best products in the market for our sailboat. All the reviews you’ll see on the web says it all! We will also never regret refurbishing our interior-- it now looks and feels way better than before. Thanks to recommendations from our mentors, friends, and our sailing community at Boot Key, we found the best products there is in the market which could withstand the heat, humidity, salt, and rain.
Are you into sailing as well? What products did you use on your interior? :)
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