The finishing touch to the interior of many boats is the vinyl-covered headlining panel, which can be detached to access under-deck fittings. Jake Kavanagh watches upholsterer Alan Dring make one from scratch
Stapling: Corners, edges and gaps
To get a professional finish on the corners of a panel, you’ll need to make a few simple cuts. Although the edges of the vinyl can be curled around the back of the board and glued, Alan prefers to use an electric staple gun. He also specifies stainless steel staples. Although these are more expensive than the usual mild steel alternatives, they last far longer and don’t rust. They also tend to give a better finish than glue, due to their increased grip.
Vinyl is supplied as either foamed or unfoamed. The surface is anti-fungal and wipe clean, and the colours are all of a light variety to brighten the boat’s interior. The rolls of vinyl measure 25m (82ft) by 137cm (54in), and the material is sold by the linear metre. Discounts are usually available for large quantities.
■ 6mm foamback £11.05 per linear metre.
■ Unfoamed £6.75
There are several glues available on the DIY market.
■ PVA glue has the advantage of good absorption into the foam, low odour and high heat tolerance. Make sure you buy one that is water-resistant.
■ If using contact adhesives where both surfaces are
treated with glue then brought together when they have slightly cured, choose a high heat tolerance version.
■ Hawke House advise that anyone using contact adhesives should wear a respirator mask that filters out organic vapours. Ordinary dust masks won’t
do this. Made by 3M, order No 4251, this costs £17.82.
■ 1lt Tradegrip HH £7.73 (covers 4m2)
■ 5lt of Tradegrip HH £32.54 (covers 20m2)
■ 500cc Tradetack spray £4.46 (covers 3m2)
■ An equivalent at your local DIY store would be Bostik 1GA186.
■ 1lt of PVA C3 £6.40 (covers 3m2)
■ 5kg WA25 £18.75 (covers 15m2)
■ 8ft x 4ft sheets of WBP
plywood – £18.48
■ Buttons – 47p each
■ Heavy-duty Velcro – £2.20 per metre
■ Stainless steel staples 6mm – £12.91(box of 1000)
Cost of guns capable of using the special stainless steel staples ranges from £19.95 to £45.81.
All prices are based on the 2003 Hawke House price list, and are inclusive of VAT
■ The procedure for unfoamed panels is the same when it comes to the cutting and initial gluing onto the plywood, but contact adhesives will need to be used instead of PVA, and the finishing-off process is slightly different. Glue the fingers first, and do the long runs afterwards. Unfoamed vinyl panels are less forgiving of imperfections in the plywood, and of the wrong length of staples, which can form unsightly blisters. When gluing, use a 5cm paintbrush, covering the edges but leaving a small gap at the edge, which can be trimmed off later.
Headlinings often have to be removed to gain access to the deck fittings, so the more easily they can be detached, the better. Alan advocates the use of Velcro or screw fixing. With Velcro, he specifies the larger double-hooked variety. The hook part of the Velcro should be attached to the boat. (If it’s attached to the panel instead, it will snag your clothes during manhandling.) The unhooked part should be attached in a long run down both sides of the panel, or at key attachment points. Remember that the panel will have to stay up in rough weather, so don’t scrimp.
For an alternative to Velcro, screw the panel into strong points – often glassed-in wooden blocks – on the underside of the deckhead. The screw heads can be covered in a neat button, which sits over a metal cup. The aluminium-backed button has a nylon washer to resist corrosion.
Our thanks to Alan for making a panel especially for PBO. He can be contacted at: Hawke House Marine, 95 Newgate Lane Fareham, Hants PO14 1BA Tel: 01329 668800 www.hawkehouse.com