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  1. #1
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    Cool How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Hello from the Great Lakes!

    My husband and I have an '86 Commodore pontoon we bought a few years back. With four kids we didn't want to invest into a boat that the kids may just wreck from fishing to swimming! The 75hp motor is not too great, but it still has life left in it and we'd like to do some repairs with minimal expense.

    That being said - the original project was to replace the carpet and replace 1 rotted sheet up front. But we both new - if we're here - might as well do it all the way, and we did!...this before we realized how expensive marine plywood can be...wow!

    Anyway, so far, we've removed the seating - so rotted that it was falling apart in our hands! -, removed the carpet, all the decking, and now gingerly removing the vinyl and foam off the rotted seat bases. Thanks to this site, I gained confidence that we could do a bleach wash on the foam and vinyl and rebuiild the boxes! I must have exuded so much from reading these threads on here that my husband reluctantly proceeded in my madness to save the upholstery and foam!

    However.....now that I'm at the point of diving in with my cleaning/recovery project - I got back on here today and see there are mixed reviews on here for cleaning w/ bleach on vinyl and foam - ratios - as well as out right avoiding and just replacing. This is not an option- we are all about recycling this foam, and the upholstery is still very good!- well, with a little pink staining (mold?) on the inside - not visible from outside.

    Soooo - my question remains - what is the best way to remove the mildew or mold from the vinyl as well as the high density foam?? and the pink stains?

    Oh!, and one more - there was a thin plastic wrap between the vinyl and foam...assuming it was to prevent the water going into the foam...I think we should re-assemble the vinyl and foam with the plastic wrap in between - any thoughts to the contrary?

    Thank you so much! Jacqueline

  2. #2

    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    A commercial mildewcide is better than bleach...although either will kill it, but a good mildewcide will have more staying power. If mildew has permeated the structure of foam...toss it. There are too many hiding places in foam that bleach cannot find...unless you soak it in bleach for hours. But then there would be a lingering smell.

    At the end of the day, which is less green? Tossing a few square feet of foam and replacing, or using 5-10 gallons of bleach...and then dumping? Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by johnhenry3 View Post
    A commercial mildewcide is better than bleach...although either will kill it, but a good mildewcide will have more staying power. If mildew has permeated the structure of foam...toss it. There are too many hiding places in foam that bleach cannot find...unless you soak it in bleach for hours. But then there would be a lingering smell.

    At the end of the day, which is less green? Tossing a few square feet of foam and replacing, or using 5-10 gallons of bleach...and then dumping? Good luck.
    Thanks, johnhenry. I did a quick research after what you said about the spores could be deep into the foam. Scary stuff on black mold and spores in general. Thank you for your advice - I just may think about an overnight bath for those pieces.

    Any thoughts on if the solution would damage the foam itself in the process?

  4. #4

    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    No idea.

    Black mold...the type which is fatal, is quite rare, and the spore count has to be so high that only an idiot (or a blind person) would not see it and address it before it ever got to that level.

    Bottom line: if you attempt to kill the spores in the foam and do not succeed 100%, they will absolutely come back once you reupholster (damp, dark environments are the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew). I don't think there is anything to consider in replacing the foam.

  5. #5
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    Wink Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by johnhenry3 View Post
    No idea.

    Black mold...the type which is fatal, is quite rare, and the spore count has to be so high that only an idiot (or a blind person) would not see it and address it before it ever got to that level.

    Bottom line: if you attempt to kill the spores in the foam and do not succeed 100%, they will absolutely come back once you reupholster (damp, dark environments are the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew). I don't think there is anything to consider in replacing the foam.
    Okay, well thanks for the gentle implication. No, I'm not a idiot - anyone with a boat would realize that you can not see what is growing or not growing for that matter behind the seat upholstery and foam. And according to you black mold is rare - well, I missed the boat on mold certification, so if it looks black on the wood base that the foam was touching - and it looks like mold - i'm going to assume it's a black mold, but hey, i'm just an idiot. thanks.

  6. #6
    Lieutenant coastalrichard's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Jacq...to answer your initial question about the thin plastic casing on the foam pads...yes, most good and better quality cushions have the foam sealed to prevent moisture intrusion. Seeing the other comments makes me think that getting new cushions is your best allround bet. Good Luck!
    2007 Mariah DX212 w/ 2007 Merc 150 Saltwater



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  7. #7
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by coastalrichard View Post
    Jacq...to answer your initial question about the thin plastic casing on the foam pads...yes, most good and better quality cushions have the foam sealed to prevent moisture intrusion. Seeing the other comments makes me think that getting new cushions is your best allround bet. Good Luck!
    Costal Richard,
    Thank you so much - yes, seems to be the direction I have to take...don't want to...but i'll do it!

  8. #8
    Rear Admiral Fireman431's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    As an upholsterer----with the rotted seat bases and the possible presence of that much mold, I would recommend tossing the entire setup in favor of new. Do a Google search on pontoon boat seating and you will find many outfitters that sell complete set at rock bottom prices...much less than I would charge to reupholster. Read the fine print on the types of vinyl used (you need marine rated vinyls), the threads used (you need UV rated threads), and prices with shipping.
    2001 Carver Voyager 374 'Stick's Competition'

    Something tells me I should be on the water....

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  9. #9
    Supreme Mariner roscoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    I hate pontoon furniture.

    I vote for a nice patio furniture set.




  10. #10
    Rear Admiral lncoop's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireman431 View Post
    As an upholsterer----with the rotted seat bases and the possible presence of that much mold, I would recommend tossing the entire setup in favor of new. Do a Google search on pontoon boat seating and you will find many outfitters that sell complete set at rock bottom prices...much less than I would charge to reupholster. Read the fine print on the types of vinyl used (you need marine rated vinyls), the threads used (you need UV rated threads), and prices with shipping.
    Yep. By the time you factor in the TOTAL cost plus your time (and stress on your marriage) you may well be ahead to just order new furniture. Plus, today's pontoon furniture has rotocast plastic seat bases, not plywood, which is so much gooder. Welcome aboard.
    Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
    21' Suntracker(for my girls), 16' Polarkraft MV w/ 25 HP Merc(for me), 14' Odyssey bucket raft, Square stern Ouachita canoe (finally confessed to the admiral) Cute little 2.5 Merc, 16' Purple Mad River Explorer; vice-admiral's boat, but she lets me use it as long as I don't forget it's hers. Blue Hole Sunburst; a piece of history (or a piece of something else if you ask the admiral)

  11. #11

    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by jacq View Post
    Okay, well thanks for the gentle implication. No, I'm not a idiot - thanks.
    jacq:

    There was no inference directed at you. I was just trying to be plain spoken about mold, particularly when it is present in porous or hidden areas. Too many people are "experts" after reading two sentences on the internet (again...NOT directed at you...gotta be safe here).

    The only way to ascertain if a substance is mold or mildew is with a lab test. And just because a discoloration (or growth) is black...does not mean it is the dreaded black "toxic mold" that so many too easily eschew. Even then, for it to be toxic, the spore count has to be so high (in ppm) that one inhales an inordinant amount of spores.

    Enough of the chemistry class. You just seemed too reticent to toss away damaged cushions, and I felt the need to reply (to encourage you to toss them). Cheers.

  12. #12
    Rear Admiral lncoop's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by johnhenry3 View Post
    jacq:

    There was no inference directed at you. I was just trying to be plain spoken about mold, particularly when it is present in porous or hidden areas. Too many people are "experts" after reading two sentences on the internet (again...NOT directed at you...gotta be safe here).

    The only way to ascertain if a substance is mold or mildew is with a lab test. And just because a discoloration (or growth) is black...does not mean it is the dreaded black "toxic mold" that so many too easily eschew. Even then, for it to be toxic, the spore count has to be so high (in ppm) that one inhales an inordinant amount of spores.

    Enough of the chemistry class. You just seemed too reticent to toss away damaged cushions, and I felt the need to reply (to encourage you to toss them). Cheers.
    Well actually, anyone who would own a boat is an idiot, but, she chose a party barge, so that mitigates the idiocy to a great extent.
    Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
    21' Suntracker(for my girls), 16' Polarkraft MV w/ 25 HP Merc(for me), 14' Odyssey bucket raft, Square stern Ouachita canoe (finally confessed to the admiral) Cute little 2.5 Merc, 16' Purple Mad River Explorer; vice-admiral's boat, but she lets me use it as long as I don't forget it's hers. Blue Hole Sunburst; a piece of history (or a piece of something else if you ask the admiral)

  13. #13
    Moderator ezmobee's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by roscoe View Post
    I hate pontoon furniture.

    I vote for a nice patio furniture set.
    In all seriousness, my favorite pontoon boat was my uncles. He had one of those giant ones from the 70's. The deck furniture rotted out and he removed all of it. The only fixed pieces left were the console and the drivers pedestal seat. He built two large storage chests (one for each side) with padded lids and the rest of the seating was deck chairs. The deck was always freshly painted with non-skid. At the end of a muddy day clamming or crabbing, a quick hose off and she was a good as new.
    1976 18' Starcraft SuperSport 90HP Evinrude
    Restoration thread http://forums.iboats.com/boat-restoration-building-hull-repair/18-starcraft-supersport-restoration-357767.html
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by roscoe View Post
    I hate pontoon furniture.

    I vote for a nice patio furniture set.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI7Ghu1FpnQ

    Couldn't resist...

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by johnhenry3 View Post
    jacq:

    There was no inference directed at you. ....Enough of the chemistry class. You just seemed too reticent to toss away damaged cushions, and I felt the need to reply (to encourage you to toss them). Cheers.
    I hear ya - and thank you for the clarification - i was wounded -
    nah, just kidding, sarcasm doesn't translate well on digital formats.

    I've been searching for foam to buy - but can't seem to put in the correct search engine for replacement foam when google-ing....still trying...

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireman431 View Post
    As an upholsterer----with the rotted seat bases and the possible presence of that much mold, I would recommend tossing the entire setup in favor of new. Do a Google search on pontoon boat seating and you will find many outfitters that sell complete set at rock bottom prices...much less than I would charge to reupholster. Read the fine print on the types of vinyl used (you need marine rated vinyls), the threads used (you need UV rated threads), and prices with shipping.
    Okay, thanks - Fireman! I've been searching and it's tough to want choke up $1900 for a new set...but I hear ya - I have four small kids - don't want to sacrifice their health for my wallet.
    and thanks for the tip - i'll definitely check the vinyls and threads!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by lncoop View Post
    Yep. By the time you factor in the TOTAL cost plus your time (and stress on your marriage) you may well be ahead to just order new furniture. Plus, today's pontoon furniture has rotocast plastic seat bases, not plywood, which is so much gooder. Welcome aboard.
    thanks! i do like gooder, than rottier furniture!
    jacqueline

  18. #18
    Supreme Mariner roscoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by ezmobee View Post
    In all seriousness, my favorite pontoon boat was my uncles. He had one of those giant ones from the 70's. The deck furniture rotted out and he removed all of it. The only fixed pieces left were the console and the drivers pedestal seat. He built two large storage chests (one for each side) with padded lids and the rest of the seating was deck chairs. The deck was always freshly painted with non-skid. At the end of a muddy day clamming or crabbing, a quick hose off and she was a good as new.
    I was serious too.

    Co-worker has a helm seat, a $600 patio set, and a Suncast storage box on his toon.




  19. #19
    Rear Admiral lncoop's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to rid mildew/mold out from pontoon boat foam and vinyl upholstery

    Quote Originally Posted by roscoe View Post
    I was serious too.

    Co-worker has a helm seat, a $600 patio set, and a Suncast storage box on his toon.
    There are several of those on our main go to lake. I really enjoy visiting with the people who have them. Some are really well appointed with custom fabricated gazebos and house plants, and some are as Roscoe described, but all have one thing in common. I've never seen an unhappy person on any of them.
    Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
    21' Suntracker(for my girls), 16' Polarkraft MV w/ 25 HP Merc(for me), 14' Odyssey bucket raft, Square stern Ouachita canoe (finally confessed to the admiral) Cute little 2.5 Merc, 16' Purple Mad River Explorer; vice-admiral's boat, but she lets me use it as long as I don't forget it's hers. Blue Hole Sunburst; a piece of history (or a piece of something else if you ask the admiral)

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