There are a lot of things a fishermen might put up with. Stained carpets, a marred rub rail or even a rust-spotted trailer. But that doesn’t mean he has to like it.

One of the hardest things to endure is torn upholstery. Staring back at vinyl “lips” or desperate duct tape repairs is depressing. On the other hand, what’s a guy going to do? After all, good-looking seats gobble up the money you were holding back for that Daiwa Zillion or some other expensive toy.

A partner of mine had to face this dilemma recently, and to help out, I went shopping for an upholstery shop here in Western Riverside County. You know how it is. You hear about places and prices, but until you get an actual bid, you just don’t know. So, starting with a known shop in Temecula to get a baseline price, I began to check around.

One of the first things I discovered in the search is that many of the shops in the yellow pages or listed on the web are no longer in business. However, once I got out on the road, I needed an idea of pricing trends, so I also had the shops bid on the bucket seats in my Ford Ranger. This kind of served as a cross reference.


Here’s what I found. Temecula had the highest price on two boat buckets and the padded step in between (a total of 60 inches wide by 15 inches deep, 20 inches high). Menifee/Perris was next on the scale, but very similar, however, when I got to Lake Elsinore, at a shop that does both boats and cars, I found more than $150 in savings.

But I kept looking and sure enough, out past Menifee Heritage High School, I found the best price, almost 42 percent off the initial bid. The shop also wanted $100 less for my truck seats.

So that’s where we went. My partner took the buckets out of his rig and we drove them out to Romoland, yesterday. The place was busy, so we’ll have to wait about a week, but it was obvious, the owner knows his business.

While he was willing to let us pay more for a perceived “better” stitching style, he showed us a method that provides what my partner wanted the most–the strongest stitching method possible–for the original bid.

Anyway, when we get the finished product–and my partner is really satisfied–we’ll give out some more details, in case you’re one of those guys looking to spruce up your boat. It might save you some legwork.


9 Responses to “Bidding war: looking for best upholstery deal”

How about just patching up a couple small holes?

by George Kramer

Your boat is too new for duct tape, ain’t it, Robert?

How old does a boat need to be before I can use duct tape? I don’t believe I can afford to upholster the seats right now.

by Rich Lingor

I ordered new exact replacement skins directly from Ranger. They had the colors and patterns on record. Installation was not a huge challenge. Ranger only needed the hull number off of the transom. I saved money and was happy with the finished project.

by George Kramer

Bassin8r, I know the feeling. And today, duct tape is available in an array of colors, which we didn’t used to have. But when you are ready to re-upholster, don’t settle on the first price you get.

Thanks George. I really want to add a step between my seats so you don’t have to step on the upholstery in order to get on the back deck. It is all seats now, so it might take a little extra to get that. I appreciate you taking the time and keeping us informed.

Thanks, George I’m looking to do the same thing to my older Skeeter, the seats are two pieces back and bottom, the bottom is hinged to allow access to storage area below. Would you let me know they turn out. I’m looking to do two tone seats. Costly from skeeter. Any help would be great. Thanks, George.

by George Kramer

fishnplay: Sometime next week we should see the finished product. And yes, we could have got two-tone, but we were looking to keep things simple. On this rig, mono color will match the carpet and the aftermarket front seat. The hull is white and silver flake.

by Rich Lingor

I checked with Ranger for a quote on replacement skins for my 1994 model 481. It has a bench style seat. They gave me a quote for several individual panels and a quote for a complete set. The complete set price is $414.70 + shipping (Guess estimate about $30). This is higher than I remember for my previous boat, a 1984 model 370 with a similar bench seat. To save money, changing only the distressed panels could be an option. In the past, I found taking pieces to upholsterers for an estimate resulted in much lower quotes than taking the a boat or vehicle to them. Some towns, like El Monte, have as many upholsterers as they do fast food stops. Price variations can be huge.I’m still exploring options.