Can I restore, recolor, and protect boat upholstery?

Rub ‘n Restore® is an anti-UV finish that conditions, recolors and protects marine vinyl and boat upholstery. It’s easily applied with a sponge and can correct mold, mildew, leaf and chemical stains. Colors containing any white pigment (titanium) double as a sunscreen. Despite being water-based, Rub ‘n Restore® holds up well to the elements, as this video from a customer demonstrates:

Rub ‘n Restore® Colors are water-based acrylic finishes. Cure time varies with temperature and humidity. Even if the finish has not had sufficient time to cure, most folks are pleased with its performance. Minimize water or liquids from pooling on any surface for prolonged periods of time. The worst that may occur is slight discoloration of the finish, which often ‘dries down’. If it doesn’t, simply touch-up and allow more time to cure before exposure to water.

Marine vinyls may need to be touched up more often because of their frequent contact with harsh chemical sunscreens (which are known to discolor leather and strip wax from floors). For this reason, consider a urethane or aerosol coating like SEM to change the color of marine vinyl

Before refinishing:

Pre-treat mold and mildew with alcohol.

Pinking, a phenomenon of pink stains also caused by fungus, may be corrected with the application of Pinkaway Solution sold elsewhere

Repair any holes, tears, or cracks with filler before refinishing. A rubberized coating will be more affordable for large areas of cracking or scaliness.

Reader Interactions


  1. Kaycie says

    Hello, you also mention using the SEM coating product for marine applications. I have discolored white sections in our boat vinyl (tan and white scheme) and overall all the vinyl needs to be reconditioned. We do use sunscreen (we try to not apply in or near boat but it happens and the transfer from skin is unavoidable) – what product do you recommend to achieve this? Thank you

    • lesandre says

      Our Marine White is still a great solution. We sell a lot of it and don’t receive any complaints about poor wear even though most folks are using harsh chemical sunscreens. It’s just good to be aware of these products effects on upholstery and finish (not to mention your own skin).

  2. Chris says

    I am amazed…we used the marine white on our 2004 four winns boat seats that the tops had gotten discolored. I sprayed it on the parts that needed touch ups and wasn’t happy with the color difference when I finished. I figured I would expand the re-dye for the entire seat the next day but when I got back to the boat, the color had cured and was now an exact match and made the seats look brand new. This stuff is amazing and I could not be happier…

    • lesandre says

      Thanks for the feedback! Colors do darken as they dry (much like latex paint in your home). Spraying always gets an ultra-smooth result, but don’t be afraid to use a sponge for the base coat. It does a fine job of massaging color into the nooks and crannies, especially if the vinyl is porous and at all sun-rotted.

  3. Kyle says

    What color was used on the boat seats in your comparison picture under recolor boat upholstery. Also what ratio of prep and finish to color works best to restore sun dried vinyl

    • lesandre says

      The first photo of the mold-stained seats was Stone with an accent stripe of Slate. The last photo of the yellowed seats were restored with Marine White. I’d do 4:1 up to 2:1 color:clear mix for the first coat only on very porous, sun-rotted vinyl. Use color alone for subsequent coats.

  4. Judy says

    I have a 100-year old leather suitcase that is beginning to rub off and disintegrate. How might I restore it or at least preserve what is left? Thanks.

  5. Jason says

    Hi I have a pontoon boat that has tan seats that have faded over the years. Does this product work for this application?

    • lesandre says

      Absolutely, but I would work with a close-matching color. If our Camel or Honey aren’t good matches, I would send a sample for a Custom Color. You can learn more about this service or order swatches of our Camel and Honey here.

  6. Christi says

    Is there an instructional video or instructions on how to apply the products to repair marine vinyl boat upholstery damage like you show in the photo?

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