Renewing Old Panels And Liners

Story and Photos By Tom Neale

Dark and gloomy to bright and airy in one easy step. Well, almost.

Fitting new panel

Chez Nous needed new portholes. Finding ones that fit an older boat and your budget can be difficult. After some Internet research, we bought the Gray Series Rectangular from the Bomar division of Pompanette, after consultation with the helpful customer-service staff.


The job initially was just going to involve the cost of the replacement ports, but it soon became apparent that I had to replace the interior paneling surrounding those ports. I bought white PVC panels for the cabin sides. If you're doing this job on your own boat, the quantity of material that you need will be determined to a great extent by the size of your boat. I used three 4-foot by 8-foot sheets of 3-millimeter Komatex.

  • Old teak veneer panel
    Removing old port

    1. My interior panels around the sides of the boat were old teak veneer. The actual liner for the overhead is white vinyl, but the teak paneling made the boat look like a dungeon. Although I originally thought I might save this, it soon became apparent that that wasn't going to be an option.

    I managed to solve the dungeon problem by royally screwing up while removing the old ports. Some Neanderthal had glued the inner frames both to the interior teak paneling as well as to the fiberglass cabin sides. Getting them loose was not pretty.

    2. If I'd known then what I know now, I'd have simply use DeBond Marine Formula, a product designed to solve such problems that makes the job much easier and decreases collateral damage. Unfortunately, I instead resorted to the old-fashioned methods of brute force, cutting, cussing, and more cussing.

  • Measuring and cutting a Komatex panel
    Fitting the Komatex panel in place

    3. Mel wasn't quite yet ready to let me destroy the boat, so, weighing discretion against valor, we finally engaged our friend Dave Peresula, who has more patience and considerably more skill than I do. He looked aghast at my efforts, then began to apply his magic, taking over where I'd left off.

    For the teak-veneer replacement, he introduced me to Komatex. It's a lightweight, closed-cell, free-foam PVC product. It comes in sheets and can be easily cut, formed, bent, and handled. It doesn't rot and is easy to clean up. The thinner sheets are very easy to form into the contours that plague boat work. Komatex was ideal for us, and it made the project relatively easy.

    4. Ripping out the paneling, which had been destroyed by the porthole removal, was a necessity.

    Next, it was simply a matter of using the old sheets of veneer teak as a pattern for the Komatex. I found it easy to cut the Komatex around the pattern.

    It was also easy to trim and fine-tune the Komatex. If your job allows you to use thin enough material, this can be done with a razor knife or plane.

  • Fastening the new Komatex panel in place with screws
    Newly installed Komatex panel

    5. Fitting the new panels into place wasn't difficult because the material bends and flexes. Being able to use thin sheets of Komatex also saves weight. Load-bearing issues would demand a heavier product.

    You can secure the new materials with screws, replacement battens, or even the original battens. The same material and technique can be used to do your entire headliner.

    6. Voilà, a brand-new boat. Well, almost. 

Tom Neale is editor at large of BoatUS Magazine.

— Published: August/September 2016

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  • Screwdrivers
  • Scrapes
  • Mastic gun
  • Drill
  • Jigsaw


This should have taken me a couple of days to do, but because the old ports were glued in with 3M 5200, the time it took me to do this job was greatly extended


A sheet of 3-millimeter Komatex retails for around $20, but this price can vary


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