DIY narrowboat hacks: top tips for living on the water

As a narrowboat owner, you’ll quickly become a DIY pro. Whether you’ve taken on a restoration project or you’re wanting to give your boat a little TLC, we’ve got some great hacks for you to take the strain out of your boat restoration efforts.


Upcycle your units

The galley is one of the rooms you’ll use most and is a daunting prospect to consider replacing. However, this revamp doesn’t need to be an overwhelming or costly process, and more often than not, a simple refresh will transform a tired kitchen. Repainting your cabinets and updating the handles on your cupboards and draws can give your kitchen a new lease of life.


Visit a haberdashery

New fabrics can be used to reupholster and revamp old pieces of furniture. This customisation modernises run down furniture, gives you the opportunity to show off your personality and add in a splash of colour. Offcuts can be consolidated to create patchwork cushions and throws for decorative touches around the boat. 


Don those rubber cleaning gloves

In some cases, a good old fashioned spring clean will help breathe new life into your boat interior. White vinegar and bicarbonate of soda are perfect for deep cleaning carpets, soft furnishings and removing rust from your metalwork. These eco-friendly cleaners are just as efficient as chemical products, but without the harmful effects to your own health and the environment.


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Switch up your lighting

Lighting can have a big impact on any living space, but is especially important in the cosy interior of a narrowboat. Fairy lights and LED strips are an easy way to add atmospheric lighting to your boat without having to add in extra wiring. Strategically placed lamps are ideal for spotlighting dark corners, which is especially useful in the galley for food prep or in the lounge for reading.


Create an improvised spider stopper

Freaked out by the creepy crawlies that keep sneaking onboard? Cut up an old pair of tights and pull over your mushroom vents to stop spiders and other insects worming their way in!


Treat the exterior

If your boat is in desperate need of some TLC, then you don’t need to splash out on fancy new decking to update your outside space - with a bit of elbow grease and the right tools (such as an electric sander) you’ll soon be able to retreat with fresh varnish or paint. Keep hold of spare paint when the job is finished - it’s useful to have some in stock to patch up scuffs and scratches to prevent rust problems in the future.

For a full treatment, hose down the hull and use washing powder for a deep clean. Choose the detergent carefully, picking an environmentally friendly brand as to not upset the wildlife in the canals. Once this has been fully rinsed away, re-wax the hull to give the exterior a protective seal.


Looking for somewhere new to cruise your narrowboat? Gather fresh inspiration using our destination finder.

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