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How to Build a Boat Bench Seat? A DIY Tutorial From Experts

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

how to build a boat bench seat

Are you thinking of adding a few more seats to your watercraft for your family and friends to sit on when you go on a boating adventure? Learning how to build a boat bench seat is not difficult, as long as you have the materials and a DIY spirit.

This article will describe how boat owners can build a comfortable boat seat for their loved ones in 5 simple steps, including taking measurements and preparing seat materials. Let us get started.

Things You Need for This Tutorial


Building a bench seat for boats requires several tools and materials, depending on the style of bench you want for your watercraft.

1. Seat Materials

Most boat owners prefer wood as the material for their watercraft benches. It is easier to work with and can give the watercraft a more natural beauty.

While plywood may seem an obvious choice, it would be best to pick cedar wood because of its excellent moisture characteristics. It also has an elegant salmon finish that can complement a boat’s interior.

Teak is also a popular choice because it produces a natural water-resistant oil. It is easy to cut and you can form it into different shapes more effortlessly than other wood types. The only issue is that teak is pretty expensive.

Another wood option is mahogany, known for its high density and exceptional water resistance. It also produces a deep reddish-brown finish that will look more elegant in your boat.

Brazilian cherry is warp-resistant, making it an excellent choice as a material for boat bench seats. It is high-end marine lumber that requires carbide-tipped tools for cutting, although effortless to smoothen.

If you do not want wood for a boat bench seat, you can always get pre-fabricated plastic products.

2. Other Materials

You will need a band saw if you need curved shapes for your wood bench seat. Otherwise, an ordinary saw or any other wood cutting tool will suffice. A planer and sander will also be necessary for smoothing the surface. If not, you can always use sandpaper.

A power drill and correct size bits will also come in handy for creating the mounting holes. You will also need glue or any adhesive for sticking wood pieces together. Clamps can help you retain the shape of the bench while waiting for the glue to dry.

You will also need UV treatment, waterproofing, or varnish if you want to apply these cabin products on your boat bench seat. As such, you will need a paintbrush and several pieces of cloth for application.

Steps to Building a Boat Bench Seat


Step 1. Read existing laws and rules about boat seat additions

States and counties have specific regulations covering the addition of seats in water vessels. There are also reputable organizations that prescribe specifications for seat additions.

For example, the National Marine Manufacturers Association requires all boat seats to withstand 400 pounds of weight released from a height of nine inches. The bench must also accommodate the test weight for at least five minutes.

The backrests or seatbacks also have specific load requirements. The backrest must never deform for more than 30 degrees with the application of 688 Newton of force for five minutes.

Checking existing laws will help you choose the correct materials and design seaworthy bench seats for boats.

Step 2. Take your boat’s inside measurements

Building boat seats is a straightforward process you can further simplify by measuring your watercraft’s inside dimensions, particularly its width.

It would be best to imagine where you want to position the bench seat in your boat before you start measuring. Most boat owners install their bench seats at the stern behind the console or cockpit.

It will also help to look for ideas on online boating resources. Some websites offer free downloadable boat bench designs. You can check these out and modify them to suit your watercraft.

Step 3. Prepare your boat bench seat materials

The majority of boat owners use wood to build a boat rear bench seat. Wood can give your boat a more rustic and natural elegance. However, it would be wise to apply a waterproof coating on the wooden bench seat to improve its durability.

You can also buy prefabricated boat bench seats. The only problem is that they may not fit your vessel’s inside dimensions.

If you go the wood bench route, I recommend making paper cutouts of different seat panels. It will facilitate the more accurate cutting of the wood into their respective shapes.

Sand each piece to smoothen its surface. You might also want to apply UV treatment and waterproofing before assembly.

Here is a video from Om Fishing showing how to cut and assemble a boat bench seat.

Pro Tip: Install all mounting hardware onto the wood panels to facilitate hassle-free mounting on your boat.

Step 4. Install the bench in your boat

Depending on your DIY boat seat design, you might want to drill mounting holes on the hull’s inside surface. You can mark the location of the mounting hardware to make drilling more efficient and accurate.

Secure the angle bars on the boat’s interior sides with heavy-duty screws. Place the bench seat on the angle bars and fasten them with screws. Do not forget to add washers and gaskets to the screws to minimize water ingress.

If you install a U-shaped bench seat at your boat’s stern, it would be best to assemble the bench first before mounting it into your watercraft.

It would also be better to glue all wood joints to improve the bench’s structural integrity.

Step 5. Add finishing touches

You can add a separate foam cushion on your wooden boat bench seat to make it more comfortable for your passengers.

I recommend a removable seat cushion instead of one mounted permanently to the bench. It is more efficient to clean and offers more versatility if you want to use the seat for another purpose.


You now know how to build a boat bench seat you can install in your watercraft. If this tutorial was beneficial to you, I am sure other people will also find it advantageous. You might want to share this article with them, and they will be thankful for it.

I will also be happy to hear your thoughts, comments, or feedback about this article. If you have questions, I will be glad to answer them, too.

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