Frequently Asked Questions and Tips
Q. What do the "Carpet Weights" mean and why should that make a difference to me.
A. The weight of the carpet is the total weight in ounces of one square yard of the fiber used to make the carpet face...this does not include the weight of the backing. The lighter the ounce weight, the less densely packed the fibers will be and the carpet will have a "loose" feeling to the touch. The heavier carpet will be firmer and feel like better quality carpet to the touch. The biggest advantage to using heavier weight carpet is not so much the way it looks but the way it will look in the future after heavy use. Olefin, from which the fibers are made is notorious for easily crushing and holding it's crushed position under normal wear. The more densely the fibers are tufted into the carpet (meaning more of them and heavier weight) the better the carpet can disperse the weight of heavy traffic areas and bounce back from repeated crushing. A lightweight 16 oz carpet may look great when you first put it in, but within a short period of time on a boat, it will begin to flatten or crush and become very "thin" looking. 20 oz carpet does a much better job in preventing this, basically the heavier the carpet the better it will withstand crushing and maintain it's original appearance.
It should be noted that this is mainly an appearance issue and not a durability or wear issue so much. 14 -16 oz carpet will still withstand all the stains, mildew and rot as well as hold up against fading, but it will just begin to look worn sooner.
Some of today's boat manufacturer's are putting 24 oz carpet in their boats....this is about as nice as it gets in a bass boat! But one thing you should be aware of, these boats are manufactured with deck lid tolerances that allow for carpet on almost twice the thickness of the lighter weights. Your older boat probably had 16 oz carpet or 20 at best and will most likely not accommodate the 24 oz carpet......your deck lids won't close when your done re-carpeting!
I find that 20 oz carpet is great for quality, fit, and wear resistance and I think it is the most sensible choice for those wanting to re-carpet their bass boats.
Q. How do I get the old carpet and glue off?
A. This is the toughest part of the job! If your lucky the old carpet will just pull up in one pieces or fairly big chunks. If your like the rest of us, it will pull up in dime size pieces and you can forget any possibility of not having to scrape it! Don't even attempt this part without a good scraper.....no a putty knife won't work....at least not very well. Get yourself a real carpet scraper and life will be easier! You can buy a carpet scraper at Lowes or Home Depot for about $10....money well spent in my opinoin! Scrape all the old carpet and glue residue off completely. The better you do with this part of the job the better looking and easier the rest will be....take your time in the prep work!
Q. What glue should I use?
A. There are many different brands that will work well, just be sure to get OUTDOOR carpet adhesive and not standard carpet adhesive. The outdoor adhesive will be waterproof when it's dry. I like the Henry #663 Indoor/Outdoor adhesive. This adhesive is latex based and is a bit easier to work with and less fumes than Henry #263 which if specifically designed for outdoor use only. If you are working on your boat in your garage I would recommend using the #663 because of the lack of bad fumes. I have not noticed that one holds better than the other, and the 663 has a bit more working time before it dries, so if your doing your first boat this might just be the ticket! A gallon should be enough to do most bass boats. Once this stuff dries, you will tear the carpet into pieces before you pull the glue up.....it is tough stuff once dry! Another benefit of using a latex based glue is that while it's wet you can wipe it off with a damp towel. Should you get glue on your finished fiberglass or carpet, just use a very wet towel to wipe the glue off. Once it's dry...it aint comin' off without ruining something!
**Tip** Marine Carpet backing is intentionally made thin and very pliable. This serves two purposes, one it makes laying the carpet around sharp bends (like deck lids) much easier, and two it makes the carpet less expensive without sacrificing quality. Keep in mind that marine carpet is designed for a very specific application...glued down in boats. It is not designed for use as an area carpet or runner, the backing will simply not hold up under these conditions when it is not glued down properly. The glue plays a very important role with the backing in forming a solid base for the fibers. Without the glue, the backing is relatively weak, properly glued down the backing and the glue together combine for a backing that will give you years of trouble free service! Be sure to spread the glue evenly and completely cover all areas on which there will be carpet, especially the edges of the carpet. If you have applied the glue properly and covered all areas well, you will find that pulling up pieces or individual fibers of the carpet is very difficult, and the carpet backing becomes very strong. Also there is very little if any difference in the backing of all brands of marine carpet, as a matter of fact, most of the carpet manufacturers do just that....make the carpet (yarn and tufting) they typically do not apply the backing or the UV treatments. This is typically sub-contracted to one mill that specializes in the backing and treatments.....almost all the carpet mills use the exact same contractor for this service! So no matter what brand of carpet you buy...chances are, the backing and UV treatments are exactly the same as any other brand.
Q. What type cutting tool should I use?
A. Get yourself a carpet knife and a box of blades (at least 10) if not more. A carpet knife differs from a utility knife in that a carpet knife has rectangular blades with slightly rounded corners. Utility knives have the triangular blades. The blades of the carpet knife make cleaner cuts on marine carpet and tend to stay sharper longer, plus they are angled to give you a better cutting angle on the carpet.
Q. How do I put the glue down?
A. Use a notched trowel. I prefer a 1/8" x 1/8" V notch trowel for most bass boats fiberglass decks. This will also work fine on Aluminum decks as well. Apply the glue as evenly as possible directly to the deck and allow it to almost dry or (tack up) then lay your carpet down. This will make the carpet stick much better while you are working it, and will allow the carpet to bend around deck lid corners and deck corners without popping off constantly. If you do it this way, be sure you have your carpet where you want it because when you let the carpet glue dry a bit like this, it will really grab the carpet backing and be very difficult to pull up or move your carpet after it has been laid. Just go slow and order plenty of carpet so if you make a mistake it is not a disaster. A few extra feet of carpet is cheap insurance and will make the entire job less stressful if you are doing your first boat. Once the carpet is in place roll the carpet down with a weighted roller if you have one....if not get a rolling pin (yes the biscuit kind) and put weight on it by kneeling over it and roll the carpet thoroughly to work the glue into the ridges of the carpet backing and to get out any wrinkles or bubbles.
Q. How do I get the hinges off the deck lids?
A. You can easily (in most cases!) get the hinges off by drilling out the pop rivets. Use a drill bit that is just a little bigger than the hole in the middle of the rivet. Drill from the flat side of the rivet, not the side sticking out! Once you get the inside of the rivet drilled out it should pop out easily. You can replace the rivets once your done with new ones or just use stainless steel screws, lock washers, and nuts. (click for larger view) You'll want to take the hinges off because your carpet will run behind the hinge, between it and the deck lid. If you skip this step you will have to put a seam or cut along the topside of the hinge in the carpet and this looks bad, and will have a good chance of fraying and getting pulled up. Take the time to take those hinges off! Here is how your hinges and carpet should look from the top if you did it correctly.
TIP. When you rough cut the carpet to lay and begin to see how it's going to fit, start from one end of the boat and work towards the other. Let's say you are doing the front deck. Start at the tip of the bow and lay the carpet back toward the end of the deck, and allow about a foot or more to hang off. (do not cut it off just yet) now rough cut your pattern going wide on everything so you can come back and trim it down later. Now you should be able to lay your carpet in the glue and begin working it into corners and shaping it a bit. once the glue has a pretty good grip on the carpet and you are satisfied in your placement then begin trimming out the edges and corners with a very sharp blade. Make a few cuts then change the blade so it is always super sharp. This will make the cuts look clean and will make the cuts easier to make as well. If you discover that you've made a mistake, you'll be glad you left some of the carpet hanging off the end. To fix things, you will just have to pull up what you've done and slide the carpet up some to compensate for the error and cut things back in again. It's a mess job, but at least you will not have wasted a whole deck worth of carpet.
I'm telling you now, a few extra feet of carpet on hand sure makes the whole job less stressful, because you know you will most likely make a mistake somewhere. With a little extra carpet you can fix it and keep the job going !
I recently bought 30' of carpet to do an 18 foot bass boat ( I only used 20'), but I never worried about having enough carpet, and it's nice to have a small leftover roll in the garage for future unforeseen fixes.... it's worth the few extra bucks. Also keep in mind that carpet is manufactured in dye lots and they all are slightly different even with the same brand and color, so it's best to have too much carpet than to come up short! Most likely you will never be able to match the color exactly to the one you just installed.
More info coming soon....