Boat Cover Fabric is maybe the most discussed subject in any custom marine canvas shop.
Everyone wants to know, which one is best?
Which boat cover fabric makes a waterproof boat cover?
The answer to that question is . . .
It depends on what type of boat cover you are building, where you are living and how you plan to use that cover.
How's that for a confusing answer?
Let me try and clarify why different applications do better with different fabrics.
Let's do that by looking at common covers you might be interested in.
Cockpit covers, full covers, mooring covers, and boat covers that completely snap or tie down – these covers do better with breathable boat fabrics.
Sunbrella Storage Cover
Courtesy Cover Girl Marine Canvas & Upholstery
Why breathable, because there is not much air flow beneath these types of covers.
The faster air can be released, the dryer the boat cover fabric will stay on the inside. The dryer the boat stays, less mildew growth beneath the cover.
Vents help even breathable fabrics such as Sunbrella stay dryer.
Learn more about boat cover vents visit our boat cover support page
Bimini tops - Sunbrella material is a popular choice for this type of boat cover.
It is a breathable, water resistant boat fabric. However, since Sunbrella outdoor fabric is water resistant and not waterproof, your boat cover may need re-waterproofing as it ages.
Keep in mind that bimini tops do great with all fabrics.
Travel boat covers or covers used to trailer your boat take a whole lot of abuse.
This application is where really tough boat cover fabric shows its value. High abrasion resistance and being breathable is important for this type of cover. If you decide on a waterproof boat cover fabric for your travel cover it should be well vented.
Weathermax 80 T-top boat cover
Courtesy Cover Girl Marine Canvas & Upholstery
All are considered mildew and UV resistant boat cover material.
Some are available on boat covers that are mass produced and for sale online. There are many, many more that are not listed below; we mention the following, because they make up a list of the more popular boat cover materials available.
Here at our shop we are firm believers in making covers out of boat cover materials with a minimum of a 5 year warranty.
Our thinking is that saving a few bucks on boat cover fabric isn't much of a deal at all, if the boat cover ultimately fails earlier. On the other hand we do understand budget plays a part in all purchases.
Top Notch Pontoon Seat Covers
Courtesy Cover Girl Marine Canvas & Upholstery
Acrylic boat fabrics
This group of boat cover fabric is considered a top line choice for boat covers. The reason is its ability to last for years and still look good.
Here is a list of the more common acrylics:
Sunbrella – 10 year limited warranty - The most popular acrylic in America.
Tempotest - 10 year limited warranty - This acrylic is from Italy, Not as many colors as Sunbrella
Recacril– 10 year limited warranty – is gaining popularity as a fine acrylic boat fabric.
Outdura – 5 year limited warranty – is also gaining popularity as a fine acrylic.
Dickson– 5 year limited warranty – a fine acrylic, very popular in Europe.
Sundowner – 10 year limited warranty- made in Spain, not readily available in the US yet.
Pros: Breathable, beautiful, UV resistant, and mildew resistant, available in a huge variety of colors.
Cons: Abrasion resistance is a little weak. Acrylic boat fabrics need to be carefully reinforced. Eventually this fabric will need to be waterproofed again.
Specialty Sunbrella Fabric Products
Sunbrella Plus– 5 Year Warranty – Same as Sunbrella, but treated to make it highly water resistant.
Sunbrella Supreme- 5 year limited warranty- flocking on bottom side (almost feels like velvet) 100 % waterproof. A lovely fabric, and expensive.
Seamark – is an acrylic that is bonded to vinyl. It has a 5 year limited warranty and is 100% waterproof.
Seamark fabric starts its life as Sunbrella, is purchased by the Haartz Company and coated with a vinyl backing.
Seamark is popular with Sea Ray for their bimini and camper tops.
It is an expensive fabric, but desirable for two main reasons. It is 100% waterproof and a perfect match for Sunbrella. This means you can use it for the bimini and camper top making them waterproof, then switch back to matching Sunbrella for the enclosures and canvas for the rest of the boat.
Polyester Boat Fabrics
There are some substantial differences among this group of boat cover material. So for that reason we group the polyesters into three groups . . .
Group 1 - Coated polyesters
This first group, have appearance similarities. There are many polyester fabrics used for retail, online boat covers, and they have similar characteristics. When buying a online boat covers, look at the warranty to see how they stand behind their fabrics.
Aqualon – 5 year limited warranty
Aqualon Edge - 7 year limited warranty - New in 2016, has superior heat reflection and heat reduction beneath the cover. We are very excited about this fabric and the heat reduction characteristics.
Harbor Time- 5 year limited warranty
Top Gun– 5 year limited warranty
Sure Last – 3 year limited warranty – Economy polyester
Pros: Easy to work with, looks good, easy to clean, long lasting, mildew resistant, tough, highly water resistant.
Cons: Some fading over time. Some crazing over time.
Group 2 – Vinyl Coated Polyesters and PVC
This group provides some popular boat cover material choices for the high end group of boaters.
CY4EZ ™ - 5 year limited warranty
Riviera – 5 year limited warranty
Stamoid - 5 year limited warranty tough , beautiful and more expensive.
Breakwater X - 10 year limited warranty. PVC coated polymers. Super reliable long lasting fabric. Similar to fabrics used on stadium roofs. Easy to clean and beautiful.
Pros: Very easy to clean, cool to the touch in very hot weather, tough.
Very long lasting, waterproof. Done right it makes a beautiful boat cover.
Cons - A little more difficult to fabricate with due to the lack of stretch (can show more wrinkles depending on the skill of the fabricator).
Group – 3 Solution dyed Polyesters
This boat cover material belongs to a new generation of polyesters.
Weathermax 80 - Light weight , stronger and more abrasion resistant than sunbrella - Can be sewn on a home sewing machine - 10 year limited warranty.
Top Notch 9 - 1 oz. heavier than Weathermax, sews and looks great, but if your looking for light weight, try Weathermax. 5 year warranty.
Top Notch – Heavier than Sunbrella, but looks nearly the same. Extremely tough and abrasion resistant. Makes a great travel cover. Not for home sewing machines. - 5 year warranty.
Pros: All of these fabrics are strong, UV stable, dimensionally stable, attractive, breathable, highly water resistant, makes beautiful long lasting covers.
Cons: None that we are aware of..
What about Nylon as a boat cover fabric?
Nylon doesn't hold up well in the sun, so the answer is no, unless you get it for free and make it for free. Don't waste your money!
Do we have a favorite?
Yes we do, and of course this is just our opinion.
We like any type of Acrylic.
We also like Top Notch, Top Notch 9 and Weathermax, as really tough long lasting boat materials. These are our boat cover material picks for your everyday canvas. Were pretty excited about Aqualon Edge and looking forward to trying it for it's cool to the touch ability and increased longevity.
We also love CY4EZ, Riviera, and Stamoid and Breakwater X. These are exceptionally long lasting fabrics and so easy to clean. If you use these fabrics, you should have a fabricator whose skill level is fairly high; this type of fabric requires a little more expertise to obtain a that high end look we all love.
We'd like to help you find a solution! You just might be able to help someone else trying to solve the same problem. Please include your email address. I may choose to contact you directly with an answer!
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aqualon edge vs weathermax 80 vs top notch 9
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I hear that seamark dries out and cracks within a few years. What can you tell me about that?
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Grill Cover Fabric
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What can I do to prevent water from entering my boat?
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How do you stop the puckering on Weathermax seams?
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learning how to make a boat cover
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what about shark or seal skin covers?
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Is there a snap available where one piece of Sunbrella can be snapped over another.
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l cleaned my boat covers and now they are sticky to the touch. How do I resolve this?
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What fabric do you like better Weathermax 80 or Aqualan?
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I have mildew/mold on my boat curtains and around my boat windows, do you have any suggestions on how to treat this problem?
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Have you ever heard of a boat cover scratching or wearing paint off (AwlGrip) from a boat's topsides?
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How do you treat old canvas that is no longer water resistant?
Canvas on my 24' Sea Ray Sun Deck is no longer water resistant. I want to treat the canvas with the best product for making the canvas water resistant …
Fabric tarp restore color
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Which material for dinghy cover
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Can boat covers that can be used in heavy snow fall areas
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can you wash a marine grade polyester fabric boat cover
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I have a bass buggy 18 ft 2000 year
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Non Moving Boat Cover
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Need a new trailering cover for my '89 Thundercraft Nova.
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Pontoon cover dropping blue dust on the boat
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A friend of mine is looking for some type of fabric or something that while he is out to sea fishing with his kids or something he can cover the front …
Should you wrap your boat cusions in plaice before covering them with Sunbrella fabric?
I am recovering boat cushions with Sunbrella fabric. Would you advise covering the foam cushions with plastic first? If so, what would you use to secure …
Why do you not list Sunbrella as one of your favorites? I am considering having a cover made locally and was going that route. How do I know I am getting Sunbrella? Thank You
Full Pontoon Boat Cover for summer use. I have had issues with previous 2 covers building up moisture underneath. Sunbrella is a great fabric, in fact …
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Top Notch - 'Marbling' problem.
I am a licensed aircraft engineer and custom aircraft cover maker from the UK and specialise in making light aircraft covers and engine intake/exhaust/storage …
is sun-dura available by the yard anywhere?
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30 yrs ago boat canvas was white and had snaps. The material was a thick but soft material. Usually see it used on some saddle bags for motorcycles. What is it and is it available anymore?
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Is there a light colored fabric that will live long in the tropical sun?
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good day. we need to replace the travelling cover for our Fazer boat.
Is ripstop 400 UV a suitble material for boat covers No ripstop is not a suitable fabric for boats. The sun will ruin it in no time. If your looking …
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What do u know about 1200 Superior Guard?
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can i use marine vinyl to drape and protect my cushions
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I am looking for a mold and mildew resistant material to cover pontoon boat seats
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What is the black reinforcing material around the inside edge of my pontoon boat cover. I would like to sew a 3 inch piece all the way around because …
1999 Crest DL pontoon 25ft snap on boat cover
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Where can I buy these fabrics in bolts
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15 ft 8 jon
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I am planning on making a boat cover using Top notch 9. What type of material should I use for reinforcing potential wear spot on the cover.
I am planning on making a boat cover using Top notch 9. What type of material should I use for reinforcing potential wear spot on the cover. Hi Gerry, …
What is the BEST thread for sewing Sunbrella fabric for a boat cover / Bimini top? Hello Mr. Couch, Bar none the best thread is Gortex lifetime thread. …
Best material for covering a restored wood baot
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Wat is the best outdoor storage boat cover fabric. Water proof , high UV
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what material do you recommend for making fender socks?
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What is the best cover material to use if you are storing a ski boat inside a fully covered boathouse on a lift?
We are on a lake in Central Virginia, and the summer gets hot with high humidity levels. In this case, the boat cover is primary used to keep the dust, …
What did they use back in the 60's 70's before these new products. for a bimini and enclosure?
No problem really, just curious. I've been learning to make boat stuff for the last few years in my spare time for myself, not others. So far I reupholstered …
Are you familiar with windstorm brand boat covers?
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What product breathes the best?
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what is the best material for towing
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you recommend Top Notch but say that you like any type of Acrylic but the Top Notch listed is coated polyester. That seams to disagree with itself ?
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Mold on coated surface of Sunbrella Plus Oyster
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can i put a 18oz vinyl tarp over my 22 foot boat thats covered to make it 100% waterroof.
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is a polyester tarp a good choice to toss over a parked pontoon for protection from sun, water, and mildew?
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compact boat cover
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Your best 2 material picks.
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what material do you suggest as covers for seat on a pontoon
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Dowco Climashield Plus
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how do 50/50 poly cotton fabrics hold up?
please see question above? Hi Bob, Poly cotton can hold up very well in the north. Not so great in the south. Back before current fabric making technologies …
How to replace snap studs on boat window
im in the process of fixing and restoring my boat canopy and the snap studs on the window are either corroded off or loose so i want to replace all of …
I used a household mold cleaner on my tan canvas Bimini and now the canvas is hard and brittle. Is there a treatment that I may apply to the canvas to restore softness and suppleness to it? Thank!
I used a household mildew cleaner on my tan canvas Bimini and now the canvas is hard and brittle. Is there a treatment that I may apply to the canvas …
Be Sure to Check Out EZ-Xtend Boat Zippers!
"I wanted to thank you for the fantastic results I have with the EZ-Xtend zipper solution you provided for my Sea Ray.
The isinglass had shrunk to the point that installing it was an all-morning job, with some snaps totally unusable due to the material shrinkage. I really was preparing to purchase a complete new canvas set, but hated to spend the money-especially since the canvas is still in excellent shape.
The EZ-Xtend zippers have made the canvas/isinglass installation and removal about a 10 minute job! (and looks great too!) Thanks again for the quick solution and the reasonable cost, I really do appreciate it.
The extend zippers have been a resounding success. Zippers were needed for the starboard stern section of my bimini top, and for both side curtains of my camper canvas. It is a clever design you came up with to increase the width of connectivity between my bimini top and camper canvas sections. I do not know what I would have done otherwise as the camper canvas sections have shown shrinkage over time.
I got a chance to install these yesterday and just thought I'd get back to you to let you know that they worked perfectly for me. I couldn't be happier with that simple to install solution to my problem now allowing me to properly and fully enclose my cockpit again. Such a great idea.
The Ez-xtend zippers were very easy to install---especially with a little lubricant ( which I always apply periodically to zippers)
"True skill and craftsmanship are rare traits in today's society. When they're held by a person that truly cares about her customers, brings honesty, creativity and passion to her work, you have just described Tammy Hampton. Better known as "The Cover Girl," Tammy has been both a friend, mentor and business partner for nearly twenty years.
I found Tammy by her name tag.... sewn to a sailboat cover, in a nearby marina. The boat cover was fitted with such precision, it clearly stood out from the others. In the years since, Tammy has 'dressed out' at least twenty boats for me. She has yet to meet a challenge for which she could not find a creative and effective solution.
Tammy has become a valuable resource to my Boatbutler business, and she has actually created sort of a "cult" following among my customers. Once they see the quality of her work, the choice is an easy one.
I am still grateful for that little tag on that sailboat cover I found nearly twenty years ago."
Owner, Boatbutler Marine Services, Inc.
WOW! I just got the EZ-Xtend Boat Zippers for my canvas and what a simple solution! Thank you for coming up with this. I am telling my friends about this product.
We just installed the zipper we received on our sea ray boat canvas- what an incredibly easy experience! It makes snapping the canvas so much easier with the zipper extension. Thanks for the crimper & tape - you made everything easy. We just ordered 5 more longer ones to completely update our canvas. Thank you so much for your quick response on our first order.
I love your website and wish we lived closer, so that I
could stop by your shop - sounds like a wonderful place!