Turn Carpet Remnants into Custom Floor Mats

Back in February when the first mate and I attended the Seattle Boat Show, we really liked the look and feel of these custom fit sea grass mats that some of the boats were showing off, but they are way too expensive for our budget.

Synthetic sea grass mats - an alternative to carpet
Synthetic sea grass mats – an alternative to carpet

We did have some leftover commercial berber carpet from finishing our basement that is a close color match to the interior of Summer Dance. Using my DIY hot knife, I was able to make custom-fitted mats that not only look good, but also make the surfaces slip-proof, warmer to bare feet on cold mornings, and easy to clean.

Make them yourself!

You can make a set of mats like this too with just a few basic tools and an hour or so. Here’s how:

1. Decide which areas in your cabin you want to make mats for. Good candidates are anywhere safety is an issue, like on companionway steps, where the floor is curved, anywhere that could use more texture on the floor, and anywhere that they would just be more comfortable on bare feet.

2. Gather enough material to cover the areas you chose. Carpet remnants can often be purchased very cheaply. Also consider rugs that you no longer want to use in the house or discounted rugs with a pattern that fits your boat’s personality, especially if they have non-slip, neoprene backs. Be creative!

3. Draw the outline of each mat on the back of the carpet with a marker. Make rounded corners like you see in the pictures in this post. They look better and they won’t curl up or fray as easily. Where two surfaces meet at a curve, make the mat small enough so that it lays flat on the horizontal surface. For difficult to measure areas, make a paper pattern first, then transfer it to the carpet back. For best results, take the time to match the pattern or weave of adjacent mats so that they are all in the same direction.

4. Use a hot knife to cut out each mat. Place a piece of glass or other heat-resistant material under the knife so you don’t burn the underlying surface.

A hot knife makes clean, sealed cuts

Work slowly and allow the heat to fuse the edges so that they won’t fray.

All the cut yarns fuse together to prevent fraying. Most edges are invisible.

5. Affix strips of double-sided carpet tape around the edges of each mat. Pick up a roll of the tape at Harbor Freight while you’re getting the soldering gun for your DIY hot knife.

Carpet tape holds the mats temporarily in place

6. Press each mat firmly in place. You’re done!

The color of our carpet mats is so close, they look like they were installed at the factory. It’s time to clean these.

When the mats need cleaned, you can pull them up easily and hose them off outside the boat. When dry, stick them back down again using new tape, if necessary.

Even small spaces benefit from a strategically placed mat

We get a lot of compliments on our mats and they make getting around in the cabin easier and safer. Try ’em, I bet you’ll like ’em!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Tom Luque says:

    Carpet looks good in your boat, but what I like best was the hint to use a hot knife to seal the cut edges.
    I use a rubber grid mat under my cabin floor mat so water can pass under it, to help keep my socks & feet dry.

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