A new face for your old boat

Story by Pamela A. Keene
Photos by Scott Rogers

Up your boating game by giving your boat a little face-lift. Whether you have a bass boat, pontoon, cruiser or houseboat, doing a little spring refreshing can work wonders for your on-the-water image.
“You can revitalize a boat by redoing the upholstery, replacing the carpet or even getting it vinyl wrapped to give you a new outlook,” says Jeremy Ewers, marine sales specialist with Singleton Marine Group, with several locations on Lake Lanier. “We transformed a Sea Ray by removing all the decals and taking it down to the base, then wrapping it in vinyl. And we’ve replaced carpet with SeaDek flooring that looks like teak for a whole new look.”
Overboard Designs, based in Buford, specializes in rehabilitating older boats.
“We can do anything from changing interior color schemes on upholstery or countertops to replacing appliances and adding hard-tops in place of biminis,” says Cibele Ziobrowski, who founded the company 11 years ago. “This is an excellent way to bring your boat up to date and increase its value without the cost of purchasing another boat.”
Ziobrowski starts out asking potential customers some key questions: Is your boat mechanically sound? Does it run well and it is reliable?
“If the boat doesn’t operate like you want it to, you may want to think about trading it in on a new boat,” she says. “But if you’re happy with the way it runs and still satisfies your reason for having that type of boat, renovating it is the answer.”
Boats with interior living space, such as houseboats or yachts, lend themselves to easy updating by changing out window treatments and other decorating accessories. Replacing appliances with newer, more technologically advanced models can also bring a houseboat into the 21st century. Boat owners have been known to completely redo a kitchen with new countertops, fixtures, appliances and furniture, she says.
“But if you don’t want to go all out, simply replacing cabinet knobs and hinges — purchasing brushed nickel to replace brass-toned ones — can make a change. Plus, it’s something you can do as a family in a weekend.”
One of the most popular improvements on fishing boats, deck boats, pontoons and other craft is to add a layer of close-cell padding when carpet is replaced.
“It adds a layer of cushioning, Ziobrowski says, especially if you’re standing most of the time, plus is reduces wear on the carpet.”
Boat owners frequently ask for new upholstery not only to change a color scheme but also to replace worn fabric that may have been damaged by exposure to sun and the elements. Ziobrowski also makes matching accessories, such as reclining sunpads and bimini tops.
“One of the latest trends is changing canvas bimini tops with hard tops,” she says. “Hard tops look more upscale and frankly, they last longer.”
Enclosures for decks have added new features, such as screens that can be opened when the weather is pleasant and zipped closed when it’s not. She also strongly recommends that boat owners reliably use their boat covers to help extend the life and beauty of their boats.
“Using boat covers is a huge issue,” she says. “While it may be inconvenient to put the cover on between lake trips, it will go a long way toward protecting your investment.”
Ziobrowski recommends tips for increasing the life of your boat’s appearance:
Always use your boat cover and the cover supports that were designed for your boat.
Add a turbo boat dryer beneath the cover to reduce the accumulation of moisture, which can cause mildew and mold. A dryer will also keep the air circulating beneath the cover.
Wipe down your boat and its exterior when you put it away for the weekend or the season, using a damp cloth. Then bathe the upholstery in a good vinyl protectant.
Consider purchasing a cover skirt if your boat is stored in the water. It protects the sides of the boat and the paint from wear.
Proper placement of boat fenders — some people call them “bumpers” — also can protect the boat’s freeboard (sides) from damage at the dock.
Other improvements can include replacing removable furniture or upgrading sound and lighting. Ewers suggests contacting AVC Sound and Lighting.
“They can add a good sound system, underwater lights that are synchronized with music or other custom packages,” he says. “They even installed a disco ball on a boat.”
As the boating season gets underway, even if you aren’t prepared for major upgrades, have your boat professionally detailed to remove mold and mildew and to give added protection to carpet, trim, canvas and accessories. You’ll be more inclined to use your boat if it’s in tip-top shape and looks good.
“Everyone has a different way of enjoying their time on the water, so it’s important to think about what you want from your boat,” Ziobrowski says. “If you’re not planning to sell it within the next five or so years, you can get personal with your upgrades to express your personality.
“But if you want to add to the resale value, select more conservative colors and textures. That way, you’ll add to the curb appeal when it comes time to sell it so that you can buy something brand new.”

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