Highlights on Bimini Tops for Boats:
Photo Courtesy Cover Girl Marine Canvas & Upholstery, Inc.
Buying bimini tops for boats should be easy, and it is if you know what you are getting. There are a few basic differences between a custom built bimini top and a retail or online version of a boat bimini top.
Let's break it down and take a look at the differences between buying a custom built bimini top vs retail or online version.
Price is the biggest difference that boaters notice when looking at the two different versions of bimini tops for boats, but there are also differences in materials, quality, fit and even thread.
You can get similar fabric choices in both custom and retail bimini tops for boats. Sunbrella is the fabric choice most people are familiar with, and it is available in both the custom and retail options.
I'm just going to go ahead and say that you should choose Sunbrella when buying retail bimini tops for boats. It's going to last longer, and it has the longest warranty. Avoid fabrics with three year warranties or less. At a custom shop, you will have far more excellent fabric choices. Some examples are: Weathermax 80, Top Notch 9, Stamoid, and more.
Bimini Straps are also worth mentioning. Retail bimini straps will most likely be polypropylene, and custom shops will use nylon, polyester, or acrylic. These are all better choices than polypropylene, and I have listed them in order of longevity.
Frames bought online are made of either aluminum or stainless steel, and they come shipped to you in pieces. You will be required to assemble the frame either by riveting or screwing.
Custom shops will make you a bimini top frame designed for your boat and you won't have to do a thing. A stainless steel frame is a better choice no matter where you buy as long as it is within your budget.
Online boat biminis most often come with plastic fittings. If you search really hard, you may find an upgrade to metal, but I have yet to see it. Plastic is weaker than metal, especially stainless steel. It also degrades in the sun. You can expect them to break and need replacing at some point.
Some custom canvas shops provide plastic, but they always offer upgrades when you request plastic. If your budget allows, go with stainless steel. Some canvas shops only offer stainless fittings and mine is one of them.
To learn more about bimini top hardware, check out our boat top parts web page.
If you are thinking about buying a pontoon boat bimini top, then you will most likely already have the frame.
If you do have the frame, any replacement bimini top you find online will not fit properly since it was designed for another frame. This leaves you with two choices. You could buy the frame and all, or you could have your bimini top cover custom made.
If you buy the frame and all online, then you will most likely have bought an inferior gauge of metal compared with what you already had. You will find that it will most likely be cheaper than having a custom bimini recover done on your old frame. This may be tempting, but keep in mind the inferior quality of the frame. If you need a frame, then just look carefully for size and gauge of the metal, fabric, and other comparable components.
Buying bimini boat tops online:
Sunbrella is a registered trademark of Glen Raven Inc.
Weathermax 80 is a registered trademark of Safety Components
Top Notch is a registered trademark of MarChem CFI
Stamoid is registered trademark of Ferrari Group
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