Boat Cover Snaps: Which One Should You Use?

This article takes an up-close look at the different boat cover snaps. There are different types of snaps for different applications, depending upon angles and wind factors.

Don't be afraid of replacing your existing snaps. This is a fairly straightforward DIY boat cover repair job, but you should read the following information carefully to familiarize yourself with each type of fastener.

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Boat Cover Snaps: Button Fasteners

The most common snap used on canvas boat covers are glove button fasteners, or durable-type snaps. Dot fasteners and Fasnap are two common names.

They consist of a button and socket which are crimped together and become the female snap in the canvas. Then you have the eyelet and stud that are crimped together and form the male snap in the canvas.

Durable Button

Stainless Steel- View in Store

Black- View in store

Durable Socket

Stainless Steel- View in Store

Black- View in Store

Durable Eyelet

Stainless Steel- View in Store

Black- View in Store

Durable Stud

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Windshield Clip

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Note: Boat owners assume that all snaps put on a boat are stainless steel. Actually only a few are. The boat cover snaps pictured above do come in stainless steel, but they also come in nickel-plated brass, and many shops still use them, which is not necessarily a problem.

Stainless steel holds its finish better, and is stronger than the brass crimp, but when seated properly into the canvas the nickle/brass does a fine job as well.

What you don't want to see is the the snap socket or stud spinning loosely on the material. I don't mean where you grab it and turn it, I mean where you use the tip of your index finger to spin it in a circle and it moves freely. A snug crimp puts less strain on the snap and the material.

Boat Cover Snaps: YKK Snads

YKK, the makers of marine zippers, has introduced the most recent line of new noat cover snaps, domed plastic with adhesive backs. They are compatible with all brands of button or durable snaps of the same size.

I am excited about Snads, since there are times when you just don't want to drill a hole into your boat, and for this application they can't be beaten.

Clean properly, peel and stick, it doesn't get easier that that. The high-tech VHB adhesive is strong and lasts a long time, and I see so many great reasons to try Snads if you're a DIY boat cover repairer.

Be sure to check Snads out as companions to EZ-Xtend Boat Zippers for re-aligning snaps already in the boat.

Click Here to view Snads in the new store!

Boat Cover Snaps: Screw Studs

#8 Stud 3/8"

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#8 Stud 5/8"

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#10 Stud 5/8"

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Screw studs basically speak for themselves, but look at the sizes and lengths.

These are male companion to the button fasteners. Note the #10 screw stud above. Ideal for enlarged holes that won't hold a #8 screw.

What are Directional Fasteners, and When to Use Them?

In order for button fasteners to stay snapped on a boat, the angle cannot be too sharp. Conventional boat cover snaps work best when the base is on the same plane as the fabric itself.

If the canvas is pulling too hard at the wrong angle, the snap will unsnap itself with the slightest pressure. This happens frequently on boats, since there are plenty of odd angles on boats. It can be a real challenge for boat covers to stay snapped.

With this in mind, there are several boat cover snaps that work well under stressed conditions. These types of snaps are called directional fasteners.

These three types are the most common directional fasteners used on boat enclosures and boat covers.

  • Pull-the-Dot
  • Curtain fasteners, aka twist fasteners
  • Lift-The-Dot

Boat Cover Snaps: Pull-the-Dot Snaps
The trickiest of all fasteners

Even though they look like glove buttons, note the words Pull the Dot on the top of the snap button. When you see these words you will know that they only come off in one direction.

Look closely at the socket on the second picture. You will see a little flat surface on the inside of the flange. This little flat surface is designed to hook over the edge of the flange on the third picture showing the stud.

Once the snap is snapped, you can try and lift from the direction of the flat surface and the snap will not lift off of the stud. This snap is convenient in areas where you'd need a very flat directional fastener, to keep from hurting yourself on the base protruding from the boat.

This is a very confusing snap for people, because it looks like any other snap and boaters will tug and jerk on it and still not be able to remove it and sometimes tear their canvas.

They also tend to be become a little sticky as they age, and need lubrication to keep this from happening. Although a little aggravating, they do come in handy if you know how to use them.

Pull-the-Dot Button

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Pull-the-Dot Socket

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Pull-the-Dot Stud

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Pull-the-Dot Screw Stud 3/8"

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Pull-the-Dot Screw Stud 7/8"

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Eyelets used for Pull-the-Dot

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Boat Cover Snaps: Curtain Fasteners

Curtain Fasteners are another type of directional fastener, commonly called twist fastener or turn fastener. This fastener is a favorite among boat owners. It's easy to use and has a low failure rate.

Long Twist Fastener

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Short Twist Fastener

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Short/Long Pronged Eyelet

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Curtain Fastener Back Plate

Sold with Eyelet

Curtain Fastener Flex Washer

Sold with Eyelet

The first two pictures are the male bases for the curtain fastener.

I have pictured only the 2/screw stud bases, since I never use the single screw bases. In my opinion, two screws are better than one.

Note how one base has a longer shank than the other. The short shank is in fact so short you can sometimes have difficulty turning the top once the female eyelet is on it. For me, the long shank curtains fastener are the way to go.

The pronged eyelet is installed in the canvas by first punching a hole. The hole has four small prong holes surrounding a larger center hole, just as the shape of the eyelet itself.

The eyelet goes on the outside of the canvas and the washer goes over the prongs on the back side of the canvas. There are two types of washers that can go on the back side of the canvas where the prongs crimp down on top of the washer.

Note the washer with the holes for the prongs. I like this style better than the flat smooth washer, as it's more secure when the prongs go through it and crimp down.

The flex washer goes between the eyelet and the canvas, creating a plastic surface for the sharp edged metal to lay against. This helps keep the eyelet from cutting the fabric.

Boat Cover Snaps: Lift-the-Dot Snaps

Lift-the-Dot Long/Short Prong Eyelet

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Lift-the-Dot Washer

Sold with LtD Eyelet

Lift-the-Dot Flex Washer

Sold with LtD Eyelet

Lift-the-Dot 2 Hole Base

Lift-the-Dot Screw Stud

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Lift-the-Dot Windshield Snap

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Lift-the-Dot Clinch Base

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Lift-the-Dot Clinch Plate

Sold with Clinch Base

Lift-the-Dot is the last directional fastener we will talk about here. It also only comes off from one direction. Note the words "Lift-the-Dot" written on the eyelet and the small dot also at the bottom between the words.

This is where you lift this fastener up from, and is the only direction the snap will unsnap from. This snap gets as much if not more use than the curtain fastener by fabricators.

The lift-The-Dot is a little lower profile than the base of a curtain fastener, making it a little less of knee banger or toe stub spot on your boat. As you can see, there is also a two screw hole base for added strength, and a windshield clip.

The biggest problem you see with the Lift-The-Dot fastener is the tiny spring inside the eyelet hole sometimes gets sprung and won't fit over top of the stud. If that happens they are easy to replace yourself.

Lubricating this snap twice a year is helps keep it working smoothly.

Most of these boat cover snaps you can install yourself without too much difficulty.

YKK is a trademark of YKK
Fasnap is a trademark of Fasnap
Lift-the-Dot and Pull-the-Dot are trademarks of DOT Fasteners

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