STUDIO 103 @Sand Sea and Air Interiors

Upholstery for Yachts, Aircrafts, Home, Hotels and Office


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Foam failures and how to prevent them

Moldy Mattress Liner & Foam 2 copy

Exterior mattress that sat next to a Jacuzzi. An exterior mesh cover over Dri-Fast® foam could have prevented the deterioration of the vinyl cover over polyfoam. Stagnant water grew mold and the seams allowed the water and mold to seep into the polyfoam.

Terri Madden’s July/August 2017 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.
Check out Sand Sea & Air’s amazing work with foam at SandSeaAir.com.

All marine fabricators who provide products for cushions, bedding and headliners face decisions on the best foam for the application. The right decision ensures quality projects and happy customers. The wrong decision contributes to foam failures.

Cheaper can cost more

Less expensive foams may seem like a good deal until you realize they can deteriorate far more quickly than pricier foams because they may include fillers and additives such as sawdust and soybean oil.

I saw this firsthand some years ago during the oil crisis when prices for petroleum-based products (like foam) shot through the roof. One supplier offered a less expensive marine foam that was not yet “captain” recommended—a definite red flag. Two years later we were contacted by a new customer to replace the deteriorated foam from that supplier.

Hi-LoFoamDeterioration

Here is one situation where a liner may have diminished the effects of sunlight. This image shows a commercial acrylic material on an exterior cushion where the polyfoam shrunk in the areas where the fabric was the lightest color. Interestingly, the foam was not affected where the dark stripes absorbed the sunlight. Photo Credit: Devin Genner

To prevent this sort of foam failure, only deal with reputable foam suppliers, ask a lot of questions and educate your customers who may not immediately understand why a more expensive foam product may be more cost effective in the long run.

Case study of cheap foam breakdown

A five-star resort hotel asked us to replace exterior cushions and daybed seating that were only two or three years old. One of the cushions looked like a former balloon that had been popped, another looked as if a wild dog had chosen it for a nesting spot and a third looked as if it had gastric bypass surgery!

Fortunately, we had not provided the original cushions and it was obvious the failure was due to a “budget” foam. A quality marine foam would have lasted twice as long. These cushions did not have liners—only exterior covers in an outdoor fabric.

Fabric liner considerations

Would a liner have prevented this issue? I don’t believe so. This

Lounge Seat Foam Shrinkage

This exterior daybed foam was one of several similar pieces at a resort property. It was a shocking example of foam shrinkage when inferior marine foam was supplied by a low-budget vendor.

was clearly a case of the cellular structure of the foam deteriorating in a commercial setting where the seating was used more frequently than on a private vessel. Fabric liners can prolong the life of exterior cushions in some marine settings, but there are important things to consider when using them:

  • Fabric type: Some liner fabrics are magnets for mold and mildew when used in an exterior application, and this will also affect the underlying foam. If a liner material is used, make sure it is mold and mildew resistant.
  • Application: If frequent cleaning will be required, foam placed inside a liner makes it easy to remove and reinsert into an outer cover.
  • Foam type: I generally always use Dri-Fast® marine foam here in the tropics where exterior cushions are frequently subjected to moisture. However, manufacturers offering water-resistant fabrics often question the necessity of using marine foam with their products. If your customer is on a tight budget and will be storing the cushions indoors when they are not being used, you might be able to use a less expensive foam.
Wet Seating under Cover

Asked to replace these old bow cushions, I was surprised to see how wet the cushions were underneath a protective cover that did not appear to be torn or broken. To prevent this, a water-repellent finish could have been applied to clean cushions at the first sign of water seepage. A breathable, water-resistant cover would allow for water runoff.

Good cushion foam choices

Open-cell reticulated foam has extremely open pores that allow water and air to flow through it easily and is available in soft, medium and firm densities. These foams are comfortable and stay cool when used for seating cushions and mattresses. Dri-Fast (sometimes called marine foam) is a high-quality open-cell reticulated foam formulated with an antimicrobial agent to prevent mold and mildew. When paired with an outdoor cushion fabric for the top and sides with a mesh base, it creates a virtually maintenance-free all-weather cushion that is easy to clean without removing the foam, making it an ideal choice for most boat cockpit cushions.

Closed-cell PVN foam (also known as flotation foam) is three times firmer than polyurethane foam and is a more expensive option. Its buoyancy makes it a great choice for flotation applications like floating cockpit cushions and life vests. It is also a good choice for commercial boat seating or other seating that will be used as a step for getting on and off the vessel. PVN foam resists water absorption, so you can safely cover it with any type of fabric. Thin sheets of closed-cell foam are often glued to the bottom of other foam, adding additional support to a cushion, like a box spring to a mattress. When using it with Dri-Fast foam, cut holes in the closed-cell foam for drainage.

Supposedly Marine Foam Breakdown

These two-year-old exterior cushions were provided by a well-known manufacturer. Perhaps budget constraints determined the use of polyfoam and the fabricator thought a water-repellent liner would keep water out. Verify the specifications of the materials you use to avoid this situation. We omitted the liner and used Sunbrella® fabric with Dri-Fast foam.

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Fresh updates for older vessels

aqua

Terri Madden’s January/February 2017 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

Most interior fabrication projects occur on fixer-uppers. The vessel might be vintage or it might be less than ten years old. While I always welcome the challenge of doing a better design than the original, there is a fine line between aesthetics and practicality. After all, the boat needs to be both comfortable and secure while cruising on the water.

Your personal and professional marine expertise is what draws in a client, but your finished project is what leaves a lasting impression with everyone who steps on board. Do your best early in your client discussions to understand the scope of the job, budget and deadline. Be creative in offering phases for a project if a customer request surpasses the budget. Be inspired by the vast selection available for indoor and outdoor textiles and the marine hardware and components that offer performance whether attached by tracks, snaps, magnets or one of the numerous Velcro® systems.

Help your clients understand that a lot goes into any marine fabrication project. Your customers will appreciate your guidance and knowledge on how to choose textiles that “look good and stay in place.” And do research on emerging trends on fabrics and components so your next project reflects a fresh design while representing tried-and-true fabrication techniques.

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Photos 2-5. Fresh colors and patterns to consider in interior design updates include aqua, black and white, citron, neutrals and mauves and neutrals and yellows.

Fabric trends

Observe your client’s sense of style and how he or she likes to dress. Does he or she favor a tailored look or a more casual shabby chic style? He or she may request boat decor in a similar style. Fabrics set the tone on any interior and are available in every option from basic nautical stripes and patterns, starting at around $18 per yard, to impressive designer jacquards, costing more than $150 per yard.

Do your research to understand the trends for the particular model and year of the vessel, keeping in mind that your upgrades will add value to the boat. My first client wanted his Bertram 50 foot to look exactly like the boat’s catalog, so that was exactly what we provided. Years later his grown son purchased a 1996 Bertram 50 foot which we restored in a manner reminiscent of the family’s original boat.

Be knowledgeable on other trends related to boat interiors. For example, classic interiors that include wall panels and headboards are currently incorporating extra padding and height, and tufted buttons are being utilized on headboards and sofas. Textile patterns are being juxtaposed to provide drama and flair.

Acrylic yarns have been incorporated into every imaginable color palette with textures and designs that reflect current trends. Marine designs with patterns, colors and textures are a bit more challenging than a residential or commercial project, because most cabin areas are visible on vessels up to 50 feet. It is a good idea to keep in mind the boat exterior colors. The waterline and hull colors are no longer a traditional white, so this is a good lead to follow in knowing a customer’s color preference.

Interior harmony is essential, especially after being outdoors at sea all day. Navy, yellow, orange or gray are common colors to choose. For larger vessels, it is a fabricator’s dream to utilize various palettes in individual cabins.

Most marine vendors launch their indoor and outdoor fabrics in the fall for the following year. You can get great ideas by contacting IFAI vendors now for 2017 color cards and fabric books. Observe trends in design magazines and visit local boat shows (see dates and listing on page 12) and the Marine Fabricators Convention from January 19–21 in Jacksonville, Fla., for more ideas. If you’ve never visited the IFAI Expo put it on your calendar now for September 26–29 in New Orleans. If it’s been awhile, attend this year to learn more about systems you will find useful on your future projects.

Fabric performance factors

It is important to be knowledgeable about manufacturers’ data or warranty information that is listed on their material specification sheets. Explain the important performance specifications to your customers. They will appreciate your expert advice on abrasion resistance, UV resistance, flammability, care and cleaning.

Durability. I first heard about the Wyzenbeek Test when I was obtaining a degree in textile design. This test should be kept in mind for making the best fabric selections for a project. The Wyzenbeek Test is regarded as the standard of measuring abrasion resistance or strength for fabrics in North America. Double rubs (each back-and-forth motion is one double rub) are a measurement of a fabric’s abrasion resistance. The double rubs you should look for in a fabric depend on your intended application.

In general, around 15,000 or more double rubs is considered heavy-duty for residential applications. We actually have commercial designers and customers who request 35,000 to 85,000 double rubs for their fabrics. Such fabrics are recommended for constant use, as in hospital waiting areas, airport terminals, restaurants, theaters and commercial vessels. There are vinyls that exceed 200,000 double rubs.

UV resistance. I am sure every fabricator has received at least one request to replace a cracked or brittle seat due to sun damage. Most suppliers of marine textiles include specifications with their product samples, so customers know how well the fabric will stand up to ultraviolet rays. Generally, fabric is rated for how well it will hold up under sun exposure ranging from 650 to 2,200 hours. The AATCC TM186-2015 Weather Resistance test measures a textile’s capacity to withstand UV light and moisture exposure.

Flammability. Flammability is the capacity of a substance to burn or ignite, causing fire or combustion. The flammability information generally listed on the supplier data sheets is the CAL 117E Test, but other tests may be included. The “passes” rating covers upholstery fabrics and filling materials and tests the interaction of the materials used in a piece of upholstered furniture. It is an important rating to be aware of.

Care and cleaning. We’ve all been asked to replace soiled cushions and other items that are more or less ruined. Often these items were provided by another shop. This begs the question, how many of us follow up with customers to see how well our projects are holding up? Providing follow-up after a year or so shows your genuine concern about quality and can often lead to more work.

Many fabricators are affiliated with a cleaning service that they recommend to customers. After a boat spends a year in the tropics without cleaning and maintenance, it is not easy to remove soil and stains from exterior applications. Yet some exterior fabrics now boast a five-year warranty with proper maintenance. I recently removed stubborn stains on a fabric that noted bleach could be used. To my surprise, Clorox Gel removed these deep stains. Be sure to test an area before proceeding with any strong stain remover. Again, most textile manufacturers include care and cleaning guidelines on their specification cards.

Hardware

Snaps, zippers and Velcro are traditional means of securing cushions in place, and several varieties of each exist. A Snad® is a plastic adhesive snap component that is available from YKK. It is available in various configurations for domed configurations or areas where a flexible base is required. It allows a snap to be adhered to a base where drilling a hole is not an option.

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AquaGuard®/Vislon® and Proseal zippers are great options to integrate into your new fabrications.

Zippers. Have you seen the glow-in-the-dark and reflective coil zippers? How about the AquaGuard®/Vislon® zippers from YKK? These can be incorporated into exterior pillows and gear. The Gooper Hermetic magnetic zipper by Paskal works well on outdoor applications. The Gooper technology integrates rare-earth magnets with a flexible thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) strip to provide a waterproof, dust-proof hermetic seal. I am currently using the Gooper on an exterior cover on a stainless Jacuzzi® where snaps are not an option for securing the cover. It works well because the magnets will hold the sides in place.

gooper

The Gooper Hermetic magnetic zipper provides a waterproof seal.

Velcro. Industrial-strength Velcro Extreme fasteners feature an all-weather, UV-resistant adhesive for all surfaces. This is a handy option for indoor and outdoor applications without using drills, nails, screws or epoxy. It is a durable alternative for attaching seating, and it is frequently used for ceiling and wall panels and headboards on every size of boat.

 

snad_m

Snad® adhesive snap components are available in various configurations and require no drilling.

What projects do you have coming up this year that push traditional boundaries for solutions? I would enjoy receiving any questions and feedback on how you have incorporated my recommendations and techniques into your projects. You can contact me through my website at http://www.sandseaair.com. I wish all my readers a blessed, healthy and prosperous 2017!


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The art of project management on contour cushions

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The horseshoe-shaped seating for an aft cockpit required an elaborate checklist to ensure that all the customer’s requests were fulfilled.

Terri Madden’s July/August 2016 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

You can browse the PDF, or read the text version below.

Marine fabricators are a unique group of craftspeople and business owners. Many of us are familiar with the notion that creative pursuits are right brain activities, while math and logic are left brain activities. As marine fabricators, we utilize the right sides of our brains for design solutions that meet customers’ aesthetic and practical expectations. At the same time, we utilize the left sides of our brains for business activities like managing shop operations, doing complicated mathematical calculations, and making sure that all project specifications are completed.

The two sides our of work come together through good project management skills, so each person on the team knows what he or she is responsible for and the corresponding deadlines. My business has been fortunate to have an inspiring coach who repeatedly stresses, “Any project that we don’t plan will take us to hell!” Most fabricators would agree with this motto.

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Sketch and measurements for seven seats and four bolsters

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The pattern for the cockpit cushions

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The side view and front view of a single aft seat

Detailed spreadsheets

We use an Excel spreadsheet to list the job details from start to finish along with realistic timelines. The details we include are:

  • Travel to the job site.
  • Patterning at the vessel with all cushion perimeters marked and all identifications noted as well as photos.
  • Materials needed. If necessary, include your research time to identify customers’ preferred choices. Check for stock items, submit purchase orders. Follow up with local suppliers or on items being shipped.
  • Production card planned with name of team member(s) and their respective tasks and processes.
  • Team review with photos to discuss scope of job, time frame, and assigned tasks.
  • Examine the patterns for all necessary indicators such as notches, zippers, seam joins etc. For the project described in this article a non-skid backing was included.
  • Layout diagrams for materials and foam.
  • Cutting directions for material.
  • Sewing details, including any training, if required.
  • Inspections and daily review to insure accuracy and timing.
  • Foam cutting and Dacron toppers.
  • Foam inserted into covers.
  • Inspection of new cushions before delivery
  • Transportation and installation at vessel.
  • “After” photos to post on Facebook, other social media sites and newsletters.
  • Job review with team members

Reviewing this list of everyday responsibilities can be eye opening. Depending on the size of your business, you may have separate personnel handling these tasks, or some employees may have multiple tasks.

Verify that all of the details are noted on the final pattern, to insure that each component of your project will be delivered in a timely and profitable manner. As you know, any forgotten detail will cost you time and employee frustration.

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6-7. Early and final patterns for a single seat cushion. 8. Notched contour area for accurate joining of top and bottom faces. 9. Bottom face with non-skid fabric and zipper installed.

Planning sleeker contour cushions

A recent fabrication project involving contour cushions for a 43-foot catamaran drove home the importance of project management. For this seating project, the scope and sequence of the project was complex. By thoroughly detailing every aspect of the job, I could accurately project the time needed for the production schedule, including the purchase of materials.

Our creativity was unleashed on this project as we experimented with a sleeker contour for the new catamaran cushions. The captain of the vessel had forwarded sufficient details with an area layout along with material preferences and requirement dates. That was enough information for us to provide an estimate.

We commenced to pattern the horseshoe shaped seating of the aft cockpit, which we learned is the most used seating area of this vessel.  We prepared a checklist to review with the captain during our visit to confirm the details for the following:

  • Cushion design. See sketches and final pattern indicators for a sleek contour at tubing locations.
  • Total number of cushions.
  • Materials for top and bottom material.
  • Thread type and color, topstitching details.
  • Zipper color, size and slider location. We like to place slider tabs on the inside for cushions that won’t be opened frequently.
  • Foam type and density.
  • Dacron toppers.
  • Nonskid base.
  • Piping, ties, snap tabs, Velcro and other components.
  • Starboard base. For the captain seat we supplied a new ½-inch panel of starboard.
  • Bolsters and accent pillows, including quantity and sizes.

All of this information was used as the guideline for filling in our job spreadsheet. We entered all data and updated the spreadsheet for a final accurate job cost. Keep in mind that job sheets can act as templated guides on future projects; we can tweak similar spreadsheets for new projects with just a few changes.

We include the following:

  • All job materials.
  • Separate pricing for all components and percent mark up.
  • Quantities.
  • Shipping costs.
  • Task times for each phase (total labor hours) for a final accurate job cost.

After the seating project was started, the boat owner requested the patterns with the job. In the past we have been asked to retain patterns, and we keep a 2 percent inventory of material in case the owner needs an emergency replacement. Currently, many projects are digitalized and it is easy to maintain or provide a duplicate for any item. Company policies vary for storing and providing job patterns. Terri, what is your policy? Only one design co has asked us to retain patterns for  1 year.

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10. Inside view of notch indicators at contour and zipper detail. 11. Outside view of cushion at a corner contour for tubing and topstitch detail to hold seams in place. 12. The first step involves sewing the outside edge of the zipper tape to the inside of mesh. 13. For the second step, on the outside of the mesh, cut open the mesh along zipper teeth. For the third step, fold the mesh toward the tape edge and top stitch.

Encouraging your employees 

Project management includes encouraging and coaching your employees. Shop owners and managers need to ensure that employees have the skills to thrive under pressure, and that requires communication, training, and recognition. We need to cultivate new employees by exposing them to small projects where they can gain confidence. All employees, no matter what their length of service, need to be recognized for their skills that result in a well-executed project.

At the end of a project, ask your employees what their biggest learning experience was. Point out aspects of the work that you appreciated. Build on their strengths and coach them on their weaknesses. It is essential that team members feel satisfaction for contributing toward a successful project.

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14. Don’t be fooled by the clean look of new cockpit cushions; the elegant outcome is the result of detailed planning and execution.


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Elegant performance in stripes

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Terri Madden’s March/April 2016 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

You can browse the PDF, or read the text version below.

Stripes come in every color, shape and size…a two-color stripe can even be juxtaposed to form an eye-catching pattern. Striking stripe patterns can be matched or combined with solid colors to provide dramatic effects for your next project. Stripes are more popular than ever and Sunbrella likes them so much that they featured subtle as well as dramatic stripes on their 2016-2017 Upholstery Fabric Brochure. Stripes can be placed horizontally or vertically to give a low and wide effect versus a high or tall dimension to a space. As Marine Fabricators, we even get to play with stripes around curved edges and contour corners. The sky is the limit, yet we need to apply some earthly planning to ensure that incorporating stripes into a project is a winning solution.

Every year new patterns and colors are developed that invite fabricators to create different looks on board a yacht; classic, modern, chic or sophisticated. A sailor stripe sets off an eye-catching look, especially when combined alongside various shades of brilliant oranges or you can offer a subtle pallet of clay and charcoal that is a modern interpretation of European inspired designs with architectural precision.

If you’re not familiar with fabricating with stripes it can be a bit of a challenge, yet you can welcome the opportunity, as stripes are synonymous with boat décor and make a dramatic nautical impact on any yacht and your choices of colors and sizes are endless.  I was a bit daunted as to how to proceed for a few of the projects and spaces that will be explained and illustrated in this article. I want to give you that ‘step-ahead’ when your next customer inquires and selects a striped marine textile for their boat. Some essential design elements for you to consider are the following:

The Repeat of a Fabric

The repeat of a fabric refers to the number of inches it takes before the pattern starts all over again. It is the distance between the starting point of the pattern to the point where that pattern starts over again. This is referred to as “one repeat.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.49.09 PMWhen choosing a fabric for a project, it is important to know the repeat of the pattern you are considering.  The repeat can have a big impact on how much fabric you need, and what that product looks like on a sectional seating with multiple cushions compared to a single cushion.

Any type of patterned fabric will always have a repeat, and the supplier generally provides this information.

The average repeats size of a stripe is between 8” and 9″. A cushion layout needs to be planned ahead of time, for ordering the correct quantity of fabric as well as the best use of the material.

Recently we provided a few color ways to a customer in a handsome nautical stripe. We received two swatches from a supplier of the nautical pattern below; one was a navy/white/tan color way and the other was a teal/white/navy color way. The customer selected the navy/white/tan color way and when we went to order the material we were told that the pattern repeat was 16″. Ironically the teal/white/navy color way was a continuation of the navy/white/tan color way, yet with several more white stripes, which our customer did not want. Additionally, the 16″ repeat would have been extremely difficult to pattern as well as a significant amount of fabric waste for matching cushions that would sit “side by side.”  Below are two swatches sewn together to show the full repeat!

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16″ Fabric Repeat

Also, it is always wise to have your customer select not only their first choice of material for a project, but also a second choice as time between fabric selection, confirmation and you ordering materials may result in your customers #1 choice not being readily available.

Location

Determine the cushion(s) placement, will it be side-by-side, will there be a corner cushion that joins next to other cushions to form an L-Seating area?

Design of the Cushions

What will be the cushion style? Common types are: rollover designs with side bands, rollover designs with corner seams, rollover designs with baseball corners, Side bands in a contrasting stripe placement, Side bands in a solid matching fabric.

If the cushion is a banded cushion, you have three options:

Vertical Stripes

The contrast of a horizontal band to a vertical stripe on the band of the cushion actually can work nicely depending on the stripe.

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Vertical vs. Horizontal Bands

When the face of the back cushion runs vertically, your seat cushion stripes must be patterned so that the stripes match perfectly. A piping accent may be used to enhance the construction transition to a side band in the horizontal or Vertical direction and consistency should be your guide for all cushions.

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Solid Color Band

This can be your best option whether you are just getting started working with stripes, or an experienced fabricator. A solid border and band work nicely when you have a contour corner area to fabricate.

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Above is a combination of a stripe fabric insert with a solid border in a marine vinyl.

It is wise to photograph the area and then sketch or draft examples over the area for consideration to determine the best option for your material direction, project space and a budget when you are estimating time and cost; as project planning, layout and construction time can easily add up when multiple pieces are part of a large layout, as seen below.

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One of my all-time favorites is this Ralph Lauren stripe, juxtaposed for a classic and dramatic impact! Note the stripe placement on the top bands of the corner cushions.

I’m including a few photos of our projects as well as some interesting others that illustrate the variations I’ve explained above. Look around and notice the placement of stripes on cushions and pillows whenever you see them in a residential, commercial or marine project. Trust your instinct, as to what works best or do a mock-up to guarantee a winning combination.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.50.53 PMThis master cabin bedcover works well with the horizontal stripe on the side banding. The border stripe on the accent pillows unites the patterns for a cohesive look.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.51.03 PMThese contour cushions are sewn with the stripe as an insert and solid banding and edging on the seat cushions – found on the web – however, notice that the top left back cushion stripes do not match the seat stripe!

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An inviting aft cushion seat, seen at a recent boat show.

In the seating images below I am certain that someone spent a significant amount of time planning and fabricating these striped seat cushions. The side band makes a nice transition on the double seat with a baseball corner. The solid piping provides a clean transition to the stripe in the horizontal direction on the double seat.

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Double Seat – Horizontal Side Band, Baseball Corner, Solid Piping and Rollover Face

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However, I imagine we could all enjoy contemplating the various solutions as to our “best shot” for the corner cushion when a rollover design with this stripe was planned for the multiple seating on this yacht. Send along your thoughts, ideas and any photos you have for a similar project that you may have encountered, I’m interested and welcome your input!

May you enjoy ‘Smooth Sailing’ into Spring!


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Window treatments to WOW your customers

Terri Madden’s January/February 2016 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

You can browse the PDF here, or read the text version below.

This article presents  options for the perfect look and fit for those challenging Yacht windows. A bit of experience will help you; yet don’t be daunted by the encounter as just being on this page means that most likely you have already surpassed obstacles for other areas of vessels that were once demanding. Entire lines of blinds and shades are available that can be custom built for any windshield, pilot house, stateroom, galley, or any other window area that you can imagine.

You can take your experience in working with a range of fabrics and combine it beyond your scope for custom window treatments and applications from drop down roman shades to fully motorized systems, nothing is beyond your expertise. The challenge is offering solutions that appeal to your customer’s vision, space and budget. Custom window treatments made with a precise fit, distinctly enhance the value of your customers yacht interior.

There are a large variety of products in a vast assortment of colors and finishes for window treatments. There are several companies that offer services for all your blind and shade needs. No matter if you are doing the patterning, fabrication and installation or using the services of a highly trained manufacturer and installer, you need to make sure that every window treatment and component installed is of marine quality to withstand the harsh conditions of the sea.

Unique Products and Features 

Whether your project is a trapezoid, triangle, or parallelogram etc. it should be accomplished successfully to function reliably and be of exceptional appearance.

The internet is at your fingertips to source ideas, solutions and suppliers. There are numerous boat shows held throughout the U.S. as well as the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, IBEX and the Miami International Boat Show. These events showcase current trends as well as various sources for manufacturers of window systems.

Exceed expectations with some of the most popular styles:

  • Sheers, Horizontal and Roman Shades
  • Windshield Blinds and Shades
  • Wood Blinds, Aluminum Blinds
  • Hunter Douglas products such as Silhouette, Duette, Pirouette, and Vignette
  • Honeycomb Shades
  • Pleated Shades
  • Hatch Shades and Fly Screens
  • Ocean Sheer

Options to Consider for Installation

Wire Retention System

Yacht blinds should come with a stainless steel wire retention system that prevents blinds and shades from swaying as the vessel moves. The wire itself should be coated in a Teflon clear coat that protects both the cable and blind/shade from being damaged over time.

There are two methods for securing the stainless steel wire. The first method is the deck mount. It is primarily used for inside mount window frame installations. The second method is standoffs. Standoffs are used mainly for an outside mount or out of the ordinary applications.

All wood and aluminum yacht blinds should have the stainless steel wire retention system running through the routing holes and fasten to a standoff. They are mounted directly to the frame to avoid punching extra holes for the wires. On other types of blinds, the wire might have to be placed in a different location.

Standoffs and Hold Downs 

Standoffs can be manufactured from stainless steel, teak, wood dowels, plastic, polished or unpolished aluminum, bronze or plated nickel; that can match any style you are looking for.

Having a stable standoff or hold-down is important for both blinds with either tension or wire retention systems. Standoffs can give clients an easy installation alternative when they want to install their blinds themselves. This way they can save money on installation and still have it look like it was professionally installed.

Motorization

Window Treatments use different brands of motors. Basically all window treatments can be motorized based on your clients’ needs. Motors are available for Silhouettes from Hunter Douglas. Check with an authorized dealer, familiar with a marine installation for  motors such as Somfy or Lutron motors.

Styles to Consider

Blinds and Shades

The Hunter Douglas Silhouettes (a luxury horizontal sheer) has become a popular product within the yachting community and although they are a great product, sometimes there is just not enough room to mount them. However, Poseidon Window Treatments has come up with a solution, Roller Only Ocean Sheer. Most yacht owners know that window depth can limit their selection of viable window treatments. With a roller only application you can mount beautiful blinds with a minimum of 1 7/8″ window depth.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.30.39 PM.pngAbove: Ocean Sheer – Roller Only

Poseidon has over 20 years of experience manufacturing blinds and shades for the Marine Industry and they are a Hunter Douglas Dealer. Even though I have not had the opportunity to use this company personally, they advertise that their knowledge and experience allows them to adapt their products successfully to any yacht window. They can incorporate various operating systems and other applications into Hunter Douglas products. Their flexibility to fit any blind into any window, with all types of window treatments, provides clients with many options to fit their style and needs.

Writing from experience, I know installation is what really scares most fabricators. Poseidon has streamlined the installation of their blinds and shades so that anyone can install them like a professional. Their easy to mount brackets and wire retention systems are thoroughly tested and proven to be easy to use and install. Along with written instructions they can also walk you through the process on a videophone like Skype, if needed. Their website is Poseidon Window Treatments.

Roman Shades

These have always been my favorite and they have become quite popular on boats and yachts recently. Many owners request them because they give a yacht interior a very soft yet refined look. Shades can be manually operated using a pull cord or they can be easily motorized. You can offer either option to your customer as well as a wide variety of colors, patterns, and fabrics.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.33.24 PMA Roman Shade from Poseidon

Honeycomb Shades

These are a very flexible product and can fit most windows, doors, windshields and hatches. They give a boat a clean look, are highly durable, easy to use and the cells come in three different sizes of ¾”, 3/8” and 9/16”. They are available in a single, double or triple honeycomb and come in a variety of opacity levels. There are over 50 fabrics and colors to choose from, to match any interior.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.33.44 PM.pngAbove: Double Cell and Single Cell Honeycomb Shades

Windshield Blinds for Pilot Houses

Every yacht’s pilothouse gets hot during the day; with windshields getting blasted by the sun. Honeycomb shades, 1” wood blinds, aluminum blinds and pleated shades are options that not only keep pilothouses cool, they maximize visibility by using a top down or bottom/up system. Motorization can be added.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.33.54 PMThe single most effective window treatment for a yacht interior is the covering of the windshield. Photos courtesy of Poseidon Window Treatments.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.36.24 PMSome Affordable Alternatives for Unique Spaces

CloZures®

Formerly Peek-a-Boo Shutters, these are for irregular or non-opening port lights; when curtains or shades just don’t work. They offer 100% UV protection. Shutters are attached to the glass via 3M a low profile Dual Lock (a Velcro type material). They are easily removed for cleaning. Shutters are available in 3 colors: White, Sea Shell and Chocolate (room darkening). The room-darkening shutter is dark brown on the inside and white on the outside. For samples and more info contact Zarcor Solutions.

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Ocean Air 

The Ocean Air PORTSHADE is an ultra-slim cassette roller blind, suitable for even the smallest port lights. It can be used for vertical or horizontal surfaces, with the added benefit of also being well suited for curved surfaces.

The Ocean Air SKYSCREEN roller surface is a combination fly screen and shade system suitable for boats with no headlining or thin decks. It requires no recess or cavity and can be easily fitted to existing hatches. The soft edged low profile design uses low weight plastic extrusions with integrated screw covers and a simple and reliable magnetic catch system.

The Ocean Air SKYSOL is ideal for curvatures, a day or blackout pleated blind for large sunroofs.

Contact Ocean Air for a dealer near you.Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 2.37.02 PMAbove: Portshade, Skyscreen and Skysol

Many yacht owners may think that they have windows on their yachts that cannot have proper functioning blinds. As skilled Marine fabricators it is our role to offer solutions for unique shapes of windows as well as windows with a curving radius. These windows may look beautiful yet planning a system that operates reliably and matches the other blinds of the boat can be intimidating.

There is no denying the complexity of fabricating such specialty shaped blinds, but they are far from impossible. Through experience you can develop a system to offer window solutions that function properly and enhance your customers living quarters onboard their yacht…

Much success!


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Cushion security issues

Terri Madden’s September/October 2015 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

You can browse the PDF, or read a text version below.

I love going to boat shows, especially to investigate how all of the new boats keep their cushions attached. Traditionally cushions were snapped or screwed through boat rails and/or secured via T-nuts or spider bolts to wood bases. Now there are options like ridged plastic Velcro found in industrial supply stores; while top of the line vessels push industrial designers to design attachment options that are invisible to the viewer. Researching the names, keeping current with new components and their suitable applications may seem daunting, yet it can bring significant rewards. When your customers present a cushion installation challenge, all of the hardware options in your database can deliver a flawless and secure award-winning project.

In this article I’ll explore some of the materials you may be familiar with, while offering some upgraded information as to the brand names and many of the MFA supplier resources that can assist you in the future to fabricate cushions that stay in place during wind, rain and the high seas. For trailering a boat it is best to advise your customers to check & stow cushions if there is any chance that they will fly away. You can also offer protective covers as an upsell item that will protect and extend the life of your customer’s investment.

There are several boat manufacturers who have Forum sites on the Internet for customers to express concerns, questions and solutions that may guide you for a particular model and cushion style solution.

For my very first cushion project, my customer wanted to know exactly how many holes I was going to drill into his beautiful Birdseye woodwork to attach the 13 stud screws to hold the snap tabs on his cushions. I’m sure if I were installing the project today I would find a hidden system that would affix the cushions on board. Interior boat cushions slide and shift around as much as exterior cushions, yet the approach to adhere them may vary significantly.

Attachment Materials to Consider

  • Snaps – Traditional, yet have to be placed with 100% accuracy. Installation requires forethought as snaps on expandable vinyl without reinforcement pullout after a few removals. Drilling or installing screws into fiberglass or gel-coat requires caution and screws should include a bit of a marine sealant when setting them.
    • Always include site installation time when replacing cushions with snaps. Only a 1/16” variation from the original snap location will prohibit a cushion from fitting properly.

See photo: Snap Failure

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  • Velcro – There are different types – While each type of fiber offers its own benefits, the type of task it will be performing is the best way to make a selection. Nylon and Polyester are almost identical in appearance. The major difference between these two types is their lifespan. Nylon fasteners can open and close 10,000 times while polyester fasteners have a lifespan of 3,500 openings and closings.
  • Nylon Velcro – hook and loop fasteners provide a sturdy and reliable hold and are far and away the most common hook and loop system at a better price point.
  • Polyester Velcro – does not absorb water, is resistant to mildew and is the most resistant to ultraviolet light. Velcro hook and loop fasteners made of polyester provide a strong hold and closure. Polyester Velcro can be double or triple the cost of Nylon Velcro, yet it is my preferred choice for boats in the tropics.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.33.35 PMAbove: Velstick, Velcoins & Dual Lock

  • Velstick – A semi-rigid, high impact vinyl extrusion with Velcro Hook or Loop Tapes permanently attached. Velstick fasteners were designed and developed for those applications to rigid surfaces where speed and simplicity can be accomplished with the use of rivets, screws, etc. Designed for easy use, Velstick fasteners can be cut with scissors, drilled or punched. It is ideal for all kinds of marine use. Traditionally it is offered in 1” x 48” strips in both White and Black – Hook and Loop. It is also available in 1.75” x 48” in Black Hook thru Trivantage.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.34.16 PMCushions held in place with 2” Velcro sewn into cushion back & Velstick secured to surface.

  • Velcoins – fasteners that are available in several different diameters for lo-profile attachment points with acrylic Hook & Loop Velcro.
  • 3M™ Dual Lock™ Reclosable Fasteners – a fastener that can both durably attach and be easily separated; you get the permanency and strength of a screw with the ease and aesthetics of a hidden fastener. It is a recloseable fastener that locks into place and provides holding power 5 times stronger than conventional hook and loop.
  • Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.34.32 PMYKK® PowerRail® Hook & Rail SystemThis product is an engineered lightweight hook and rail system for wall and panel hanging and other applications. PowerRail hook fasteners provide superior holding strength and flexibility. I chose to include this type, even though I have yet to use it; I think it is an interesting application to securely hold large cushions to vertical surfaces. Any feedback would be appreciated.

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  • Hooks & D-Rings – traditional interior upper sofa seat cushions are held “in-place” via a snap hook on shock cord, sewn into the upper cushion and connected to a D-Ring on the lower cushion. A small hand helps when attaching these cushions.
  • Webbing with Hardware – For this windy deck we used 2” webbing with a turnbutton eyelet sewn into the cushion underside. The turnbutton post was installed underneath the wood frame. Tip: Always include sufficient installation time on your estimates/invoices as travel and installation time add up, especially when more than 1 person is required.

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  • Grommets – all sizes and even colors – an aid to secure pillows on a windy deck.

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  • Zippers – yes, they can help hold cushions that join one to another! This zipper placement was designed to prevent the neck roll from falling off the cushion or rolling forward.

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  • Keder Welt – check that you use the correct style & diameter for the track application you are installing – the flat style welt below avoids screw heads in the track. Diameters of welt and track vary so order with caution…

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  • Costa Track – is heavy-duty PVC, center-mount track. It is designed to replace flange-style track. Used for a variety of enclosures and cushion applications. It can be heat-formed to most radii and is predrilled every 4 inches. With built-in countersink for the seating of screw heads, the large channel opening allows keder welt to slide through unobstructed. Lengths are available over 8ft.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.36.59 PMAbove: Costa Track, Flange Track, Flex-A-Rail

  • Flex-A-Rail A flexible, non-corrosive, PVC extruded awning track for kedar ropes. It is a lower profile than the Costa track and it is great for twisting around corners for easy installation. You can heat it if necessary to bend. It is easy to cut with a hacksaw. Use flat or oval head screws and 3M VHB tape to help install.  It is available in White or Black.  Consider setting with a square head # 6 with a #4 screw for the best fit thru the small center opening. Track, screws and screwdriver are available through Bainbridge.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.37.35 PMCosta Track and Flex-A-Rail Installations

I’ve included most of the typical solutions and images for cushions security systems we’ve encountered here at Sand Sea and Air in Puerto Rico…and yes we’ve gained new customers when we have been called upon to replace cushions that have flown overboard when another contractor did not consider foresight. Below is a cushion challenge that incorporated track with keder welt in the bow, snap tabs at the hatch opening cushion and webbing with turnbuttons on the Port and Starboard sides. May your sea legs steadfastly carry you through your next cushion installation!

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Upholstered Wall Panels

Terri Madden’s May/June 2015 article for Marine Fabricator Magazine.

You can browse the PDF here, or read below.

Most likely you will be reading this article as warmer weather streams across your state and your customers delight in contacting your marine business with new challenges.

If you have never had the opportunity to fabricated wall panels, consider a customer request as an opportunity to add to your skill set – toolbox.  Why? Boat interior hulls of every size and shape have some type of surface treatment that require finishing detail. The visual surface most likely will be in wood, laminate, wallpaper or padded panels.  Padded wall panels are esthetically pleasing; they can provide protection as well as sound/heat insulation. Panels can be easily removed for repair &/or replacement if they become damaged. Generally no sewing is required.

This article will be a guide in determining where to start, what materials are necessary and how to provide solutions for a timely and profitable product.

As with most marine projects a request for new wall panels is either cosmetic, such as when a boat is bought or sold or when an owner realizes that the materials are moldy, discolored or abraded.

We have had requests for all types of panels including accent topstitching on the perimeter of the panel.

A major consideration is budget, what “look” your customer envisions vs. what you can offer for their vessel. Yacht designers showcase vertical panels one year and horizontal panels the next.  Recently panels have been separated with handsome wood trim.  Determine if the panels will be flush mount, side by side or will they be set individually within a frame?  Will you need to replace only the covering on the existing panel, replacing water damaged panels and the surface material, or patterning to fabricate and install new panels for the first time on the vessel.

Our very first wall panel project encompassed replacing wallpaper with horizontal panels down 5 steps from the Salon to a curved hallway with 4 cabin doors on a 50’ Bertram. The unforeseen obstacle was removing the handrail, as the visible cap nuts and screws would not detach and it required access to remove them from a portside guest cabin wall. This alone added significant hours to the project.

Tools to Have on Hand

  • Circular / Jig saw
  • Tack / Claw hammer
  • Staple gun / staple puller
  • Stud finder

Basic Wall Panels – Approach and Evaluate

Traditionally a padded vinyl is wrapped and stapled around ¼” wood or PVC panel. These panels are held “in-place” via heavy duty Velcro or Panel Fasteners. Velcro allows for easy removal / installation / replacement when access to electric cables, AC vents etc. is required. When using panel fasteners consider the spacing, size and weight of the panel to hold up against the jostling / size of the boat.

Determine who will prepare the area if you are making new panels and verify if other contractors are working inside the vessel in order that your access is coordinated. Decide which system you will use to adhere the panels to the surface. Make a small sample to verify height next to doorframes or trim as this can prevent any unforeseen obstacles. Consider the difference between a thin silk vs. leather or a 30 oz. vinyl; add foam height and each sample will be slightly different. Perhaps a 1/8” panel is needed or a 3/8” would be a better fit. It is a good idea to display these samples in your shop and use them to show new customers!

Vinyl with foam backing is frequently used over panels. Vendors such as Covin Sales and Majilite offer an extensive selection of vinyl patterns that can be laminated with stock foam thicknesses in a range from 1/16″ to 3/4″, with a 5-yard minimum order.  *Do not attempt to laminate material to foam by yourself as it is practically impossible to get 100% contact and any separation will bubble and be quite noticeable when the panels are mounted.

Let the Project Begin

If you are making new panels, schedule sufficient time to prepare the area by removing all furniture or trim if necessary. Use a stud finder to locate studs in areas that may prevent installation of panel fasteners.

Pattern areas and record details and measurements for all areas/double check/ record a number sequence for Port / Starboard panels.  Frame out the areas for Velcro or fasteners and indicate these locations on your patterns. Determine the spacing between panels as 1/8” foam + vinyl = thickness on a panel edge – when the panels are side by side – you need to multiply the thickness by 2 to get the space you need to allow in-between panels. This may require ¼” spacing or more between adjacent panels.

Consider ordering PVC panels pre-cut from your supplier for accurate edges or be sure to check the cutting blade on your saw and how it will affect the finished edge, which your space requires.  An extra trip to the boat is recommended after panels are cut to verify multiple panels for adjustments and final fit of all edges prior to covering.

When ordering and cutting vinyl or fabric add +2” on all sides of the L + W for sufficient material to wrap and pull to the back of the panel for stapling.  Practice corners by folding and notching the material at panel edges so that there is no overlap.  If you are using heavy duty 1” Velcro on the panel back consider using 2” heavy duty Velcro “on-site” for 100% contact. After stapling, cut any extra vinyl away so that the Velcro is mounted next to the vinyl in order that the finished panel mounts as flush to the wall surface as possible.  Occasionally decorative screws are used to secure panels “in place” on a vessel yet we have never used this system.

During your evaluation the fastening system was determined and now mounting fasteners like Velcro are stapled on the back of a panel after the panel is covered whereas other mounting fasteners like fast mount and Christmas trees need to be in place prior to the panel being covered.  Be aware that the spacing between your staples is important as most manufacturers do them almost side by side to keep consistent tension.  Check that the size and length of the staples you are using are adequate/correct for the finished project. Staples that are too long could pierce thru the face of the vinyl when pressed against. If you are using 1/8” PVC be aware that a ¼” staple may be too long and needs to be stapled in at an angle. A 1/8” panel is not a typical size yet on a lo-profile door project we covered with fine silk we had to be extremely cautious to place staples one right next to the other to prevent visual ripples and insert the staples at an angle to hold the material “in-place” as well as prevent the tips of the staples from protruding the fabric surface.

Understanding, researching and applying various wall panel systems for a finished “look” will provide an additional level of expertise as a marine fabricator.  Additionally other applications with the same techniques above can be utilized for upselling as a project for your customers on locations such as headboards – residential padded walls for sound systems and door panels.  The “skies the limit” and there is numerous information and “How To” videos on the Internet. I am an email or phone call nearby to assist you for any questions or concerns.  May a dose of confidence and your craftsmanship guide you on a new adventure!

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