Sunbrella has been the standard for many years. It is a type of synthetic canvas. It is the closest to the old cotton canvas that would dry rot. It is a solution dyed product. This means the color pigments are put into the material when it is in the molten stage. This product is then extruded through fine dies to make very fine plastic threads. These are then spun into a thread and woven into acrylic fabric. Acrylic is the hardest of the fibers and is very resistant to ultraviolet light degradation. It is important to note that this is a woven fabric, which allows it to have some breathability. This is often exaggerated as a feature of this fabric. This fabric is water resistant not water proof. It uses a fluorocarbon treatment to keep water from penetrating the fabric.
1. Sunbrella fabric must be treated to maintain water repellency.
2. In a hard driving rain misting occurs on the inside. The water is driven through the material.
3. If bird droppings are cleaned off, one must be careful not to scrub off the waterproofing. If scrubbed off, retreatment must be done.
4. Since it is the hardest fiber it is not as tough as some other fabrics. It is subject to abrasion. This means that proper reinforcement must be done in high wear areas.
5. One of the higher priced fabrics.
6. Stretch – If not fit properly, the stretch can make the product look bad after a while. It will also sag from the morning dew. We call it the: “Sunbrella sag”. This can also be a problem if any puddles form, because they will continue to grow holding more water.
7. It is highly advised not to use the lighter colors. They will look dirty within days.
1. Moderately breathable.
2. Highly resistant to ultraviolet light degradation.
3. Soft warm appearance on the boat.
4. Great color selection.
5. Readily available.
6. Excellent sewability.
7. Slight stretch allowing wrinkles to be pulled out.
Boat Tailors does use Sunbrella extensively in many applications. It is an excellent choice if one is aware of its shortcomings. Colors can be seen at: http://www.sunbrella.com Click on Fabrics.
Seamark (Vinyl coated Sunbrella)
A company called Haartz purchases the original Sunbrella from Glen Raven Mills and laminates a vinyl coat to the underside. Lamination is just what the name suggests. A color matched sheet of vinyl is adhered to the underside of the fabric. This fabric has been in use by Boat Tailors for approximately 15 yrs. It is used extensively in the OEM market where Sunbrella use to be used. Over 90 % of the powerboat enclosures we do with Sunbrella fabric use Sea Mark for the top material. Because of the weight and expense it normally is not used for anything but the tops. We highly recommend it on sailboats for our enclosures.
This vinyl coat makes the material waterproof under normal conditions (note: waterproofness is relative to amount of pressure). This material is not dependant on the waterproofing treatments like Sunbrella.
1. Heavy in weight.
2. Expensive Fabric.
3. Hard to Fabricate.
4. Has a high degree of stretch than Sunbrella. Can sag.
5. Must avoid puddles of water in fabric. They will grow.
6. Can mildew over time on the underside, but it is easily cleaned.
7. Like Sunbrella it cannot be used in the lighter colors and maintain cleanliness.
1. High degree of waterproofness.
2. Soft look on the boat.
3. Can be scrubbed to a moderate level.
4. Good color selection.
5. Has an excellent look if installed correctly due to its stretch. Even better then Sunbrella. (It stretches more than Sunbrella.)
Boat Tailors highly recommends this fabric for tops used in any type of enclosure. It is one of the best ways to keep things drier.
Stamoid is an extruded vinyl (PVC) coated fabric product of the highest quality. Boat Tailors uses this fabric almost exclusively for any light color applications. It has a polyester base fabric, which is the toughest of fabrics. The vinyl in molten form is extruded onto the fabric where a knife presses it into the fabric. The vinyl in itself has no strength and that is why it requires the base fabric. This fabric gives this material much of its characteristics. The knifing process gives the vinyl a superior bond to the base fabric. This product is offered in a single coat or double coat version. The single coat only has vinyl on the top and a clear coat is used for the bottom to seal the fabric. The single coat is much lighter and used for covers. The double coat has vinyl on both top and bottom and is used for enclosures. (See diagram below) The strength of the two products is almost identical. It also has a smooth finish and a clear coat like what is on your automobile, both of which helps the dirt to sheet off.
1. Wrinkles are more easily seen than in the acrylics.
2. Difficult to fabricate.
4. Hard look on the boat.
5. Limited color selection
1. Has great dimensional stability.
2. Stays flexible despite cold weather.
3. Because of the clear coat dirt retention is minimal.
4. Excellent selection of white and off white colors.
5. Very strong durable fabric.
6. Single coat is light weight but strong.
7. Excellent ultraviolet light resistance.
Boat Tailors uses this fabric in all our white and off white applications. We often use this fabric on our largest boats because they use white or off white. See: http://www.stamoidmarinefabrics.com/
Aqualon or Dockside (same fabric, different suppliers)
This is also an extruded vinyl coated fabric. This product has a stretchy, tough polyester base material. It has a textured surface decreasing the shine and giving is a little softer look. It also has a clear coat on the back side. This is used primarily in covers for trailer fishing and ski boats.
1. Retains dirt which makes it a bad choice in the light colors.
2. The vinyl on the surface does not take abrasions well.
3. Has a hard look on the boat.
4. Does not breathe and needs ventilation.
1. In colors it makes and excellent looking covers.
2. The base fabric is very tough and takes abrasion well.
3. Excellent color selection.
4. Good ultraviolet light resistance.
Boat Tailors uses this fabric extensively for its trailerable boats. It fits tight and looks nice. It is excellent for this application.