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  1. #1
    Fleet Admiral Mark42's Avatar
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    Default Best fabric for boat cover?

    Wondering what marine fabric is generally considered to be the best for making boat covers? Want something water proof, and will hold up to UV all year.

    Any recommendations?
    1985 Bayliner 1600 Capri Cuddy, 1965 MFG Niagara Custom. >> MFG Video<<. >> MFG Project<< >>Bayliner Hard Top Project<< >>Bayliner Repower Project<<


  2. #2
    Rear Admiral lncoop's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Sunbrella's hard to beat.
    Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
    21' Suntracker(for my girls), 16' Polarkraft MV w/ 25 HP Merc(for me), 14' Odyssey bucket raft, Square stern Ouachita canoe (finally confessed to the admiral) Cute little 2.5 Merc, 16' Purple Mad River Explorer; vice-admiral's boat, but she lets me use it as long as I don't forget it's hers. Blue Hole Sunburst; a piece of history (or a piece of something else if you ask the admiral)

  3. #3
    Lieutenant NelsonQ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Yeah, I`d look at the Sunbrella materials. If you maintain it, it`ll stay in great shape and last a long time (both from fading and waterproof)
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  4. #4
    Petty Officer 1st Class oceansbreeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    I talked to 2 canvas makers today, and I approved a new top finally, for my boat.... a complete convertible cover, with bow cover, and the bimini top as well...

    I was told by BOTH these places, as well as the place I spoke to last week, not to use Sunbrella. All 3 have told me they would use it if I wanted, but said, "if it tears, it is toast" and all 3 recommended Top Gun. There was another thread a couple of days ago which I replied in about this, and Top Gun is what seems to be "the most popular among canvas makers and buyers alike" maybe because of it's price?? But all 3 swore Top Gun is a heavier guage and more likely to last and be mroe durable than Sunbrella...

    I do not dispute sunbrella is quality cover, but just sayign what I was told. Sunbrella has darker colors, and Top Gun is offered in lighter covers.... lemme do a quick search here....

    ah yes, here is the thread:
    http://forums.iboats.com/boat-topics-questions-not-engine-topics/boat-covers-sunbrella-407426.html

    to each their own. I am satisfied with what I was told about Top Gun, and I'm gonna go with it....
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    I made my cover out of a material called WeatherMax 80:
    http://leesailcovers.com/_wsn/page8.html

    It's only a couple of months old at this point so I cannot attest to UV stability, but I can say that it is remarkably waterproof, breathable, and does not stretch and sag like Sunbrella does.

  6. #6
    Rear Admiral lncoop's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    My Sunbrella cover is ten years old. It has a couple of very small tears that have not expanded at all, so I'm not sure exactly what they mean by "toast". I've been extremely happy with it, but that doesn't mean there's not something better. Let us know your thoughts when it's done. Having a cover custom made is money well spent.
    Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
    21' Suntracker(for my girls), 16' Polarkraft MV w/ 25 HP Merc(for me), 14' Odyssey bucket raft, Square stern Ouachita canoe (finally confessed to the admiral) Cute little 2.5 Merc, 16' Purple Mad River Explorer; vice-admiral's boat, but she lets me use it as long as I don't forget it's hers. Blue Hole Sunburst; a piece of history (or a piece of something else if you ask the admiral)

  7. #7
    Fleet Admiral Mark42's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Quote Originally Posted by lncoop View Post
    My Sunbrella cover is ten years old. It has a couple of very small tears that have not expanded at all, so I'm not sure exactly what they mean by "toast". I've been extremely happy with it, but that doesn't mean there's not something better. Let us know your thoughts when it's done. Having a cover custom made is money well spent.
    Does you cover sit in the full sun all day? Mine will. Its a trailer queen and all but 6 or 8 weeks of the year, its parked in the back yard in the sun, summer heat and winter cold (NJ).

    Thanks!

    BTW, I know Topgun is a very good product, and its on my list.
    1985 Bayliner 1600 Capri Cuddy, 1965 MFG Niagara Custom. >> MFG Video<<. >> MFG Project<< >>Bayliner Hard Top Project<< >>Bayliner Repower Project<<


  8. #8
    Rear Admiral lncoop's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark42 View Post
    Does you cover sit in the full sun all day? Mine will. Its a trailer queen and all but 6 or 8 weeks of the year, its parked in the back yard in the sun, summer heat and winter cold (NJ).

    Thanks!

    BTW, I know Topgun is a very good product, and its on my list.
    Yes sir. Mine lives on a trailer as well and spends her off water time in the back yard or driveway. Our winters can't compare to yours, but I suspect the inverse is true for our summers. We're going into our ninth or tenth straight day of 95+ with a couple of triple digit days thrown in there for fun. Sort of makes you want to have a boat so you can go to the lake.
    Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
    21' Suntracker(for my girls), 16' Polarkraft MV w/ 25 HP Merc(for me), 14' Odyssey bucket raft, Square stern Ouachita canoe (finally confessed to the admiral) Cute little 2.5 Merc, 16' Purple Mad River Explorer; vice-admiral's boat, but she lets me use it as long as I don't forget it's hers. Blue Hole Sunburst; a piece of history (or a piece of something else if you ask the admiral)

  9. #9
    Commander bear_69cuda's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Hey Mark,

    Both my covers have been Top-Gun... My full waterline cover sits in the sun all day... I've seen no signs of degradation at all... I highly recommend this product... My canvas shop likes it better than Sunbrella...


    Bear

    " Jackson Lee II " 2003 Key West 1720 CC, 2003 Yamaha 115 TRLB

    Mods to my Key West http://www.keywestboatsforum.com/topic716.html

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    "SS Hurry Up" 1999 Bayliner Resto-mod: http://forums.iboats.com/boat-restoration-building-hull-repair/1999-bayliner-project-292511.html

  10. #10
    Rear Admiral lncoop's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Just curious. How does the cost compare between the two?
    Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
    21' Suntracker(for my girls), 16' Polarkraft MV w/ 25 HP Merc(for me), 14' Odyssey bucket raft, Square stern Ouachita canoe (finally confessed to the admiral) Cute little 2.5 Merc, 16' Purple Mad River Explorer; vice-admiral's boat, but she lets me use it as long as I don't forget it's hers. Blue Hole Sunburst; a piece of history (or a piece of something else if you ask the admiral)

  11. #11
    Commander bear_69cuda's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    My canvas maker has over 32 years in the business...

    Here are some facts about Sunbrella and Top-Gun

    Sunbrella data-

    More colors (every color in the book)
    The company is owned by one of the larges fabric company's in the world. (huge marketing budget)
    It is an acrylic fabric, (is similar to cotton under a microscope)
    It does not have very good abrasion or tear characteristics (Massive re-enforcement required for trailering on the road)
    After 3-5 years most customers re-treat/waterproof
    $14-19 a yard.
    Tends to stretch after being wet.
    Howard Lohause has ~ 2 doz customers aver a month in regards, to re-treating covers less than 3 years old.
    lasts 5-7 years
    very breathable
    good UV characteristics
    poor water and leak resistance


    Top-Gun data

    Great abrasion and tear characteristics
    good UV characteristics
    Does not stretch very strong
    superior water repelling and resistance
    lasts 12 years+
    $11-13 a yard
    Made of polyester (looks like wire under microscope)
    good breathing characteristics
    Only 20 colors

    a pic of my cover



    Bear

    " Jackson Lee II " 2003 Key West 1720 CC, 2003 Yamaha 115 TRLB

    Mods to my Key West http://www.keywestboatsforum.com/topic716.html

    Additions to my former Cobalt: http://www.boatingabc.com/forums/ubb.../514856/1.html

    "SS Hurry Up" 1999 Bayliner Resto-mod: http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=292511

  12. #12
    Commander bear_69cuda's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Also FYI.

    Sunbrella started out in the awning business.

    Top Gun started out in the marine covering business..


    Bear

    " Jackson Lee II " 2003 Key West 1720 CC, 2003 Yamaha 115 TRLB

    Mods to my Key West http://www.keywestboatsforum.com/topic716.html

    Additions to my former Cobalt: http://www.boatingabc.com/forums/ubb.../514856/1.html

    "SS Hurry Up" 1999 Bayliner Resto-mod: http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=292511

  13. #13
    Fleet Admiral Mark42's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Bear,

    Thanks for the info. Sounds like Top Gun is the way to go.
    1985 Bayliner 1600 Capri Cuddy, 1965 MFG Niagara Custom. >> MFG Video<<. >> MFG Project<< >>Bayliner Hard Top Project<< >>Bayliner Repower Project<<


  14. #14
    Rear Admiral lncoop's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Interesting. Certainly worth considering come new cover time. Thanks.
    Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
    21' Suntracker(for my girls), 16' Polarkraft MV w/ 25 HP Merc(for me), 14' Odyssey bucket raft, Square stern Ouachita canoe (finally confessed to the admiral) Cute little 2.5 Merc, 16' Purple Mad River Explorer; vice-admiral's boat, but she lets me use it as long as I don't forget it's hers. Blue Hole Sunburst; a piece of history (or a piece of something else if you ask the admiral)

  15. #15
    Supreme Mariner bruceb58's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Interesting comments. I make boat covers and I only use Sunbrella. My Sunbrella covers easily last 10 years. Its not the fabric that wears out on these covers...its the thread that sews them together that wears out. Most important thing to do to make a cover last is to keep it clean.

    I have never heard the comment that Top Gun lasts longer than Sunbrella. Usually the other way around if not equal. As far as price goes, the prices listed by bear_69cuda are totally inaccurate as the wholesale price that the canvas maker pays is way lower. In all reality, the difference in price of the fabric is pretty insignificant because the labor is most of the cost of the cover. Top Gun is more difficult to sew in my opinion which is one of the reasons I don't use it.

    Personally,the Top Gun doesn't breathe well enough. Even in California where I am that can be a problem. Its also not as color fast as Sunbrella.

    If you really want to learn about the differences in the fabrics, go to this forum where people in the business hang out.

    http://www.get-up-and-go.com/upholst...ex.php?board=1
    1998 Wellcraft Eclipse 24 Cuddy
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  16. #16
    Commander 45Auto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    My 87' Sea Ray Sundancer 300 has a full set of covers which are original to the boat and made of Sunbrella. They are 23 years old and look like new with the exception of one of the biminis has about 6 inches of pulled thread. I was so impressed with them that I went out and bought a Sunbrella cover for my 22' boat last year. The cheaper covers lasted me 2 or 3 years before they had to be replaced.
    Any opinions expressed above are worth exactly what you paid for them!

  17. #17
    Commander bear_69cuda's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Quote Originally Posted by bruceb58 View Post
    Interesting comments.
    the prices listed by bear_69cuda are totally inaccurate as the wholesale price that the canvas maker pays is way lower.

    If you really want to learn about the differences in the fabrics, go to this forum where people in the business hang out.

    http://www.get-up-and-go.com/upholst...ex.php?board=1
    So you're saying he's lying to me? His 32 years of making boat covers in all kinds of material doesn't mean squat? Curious then as to why people from Chicago, Milwaukee and other distant places, DNR boats, small boats , massive boats hear about Lohaus Covers, seek him and his small business out for their boat covers due high quality, and honest pricing... I'm no fabrics expert, but I know with all the thunderstorms my boat has been through, I never have water in my boat... And with the roof vents, I have more than adequate venting and breathing...


    Bear

    " Jackson Lee II " 2003 Key West 1720 CC, 2003 Yamaha 115 TRLB

    Mods to my Key West http://www.keywestboatsforum.com/topic716.html

    Additions to my former Cobalt: http://www.boatingabc.com/forums/ubb.../514856/1.html

    "SS Hurry Up" 1999 Bayliner Resto-mod: http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=292511

  18. #18
    Supreme Mariner bruceb58's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    He might be quoting the price after he adds his profit. I have been making covers for years as well and I also know how much Sunbrella costs and its not the price you are quoting!

    Again, the price of the fabric is a smaller percentage than what the labor is. For example, a small cockpit cover may only have 5 yards of material and the final cost is $400 depending on the labor in your area. So, even if the price difference was $5, the the total difference between the 2 tops would be $25 for material. The difference in price of a full cover would also be negligible.

    As far as a cockpit enclosure, I prefer the clean look of sunbrella without any silly looking roof vents.

    As far as your comment that I am saying your canvas maker is lying to you, not sure where you get that from. All I said was that your prices are inaccurate. I purchase my fabric from the largest wholesaler of Sunbrella in the nation and I am going by what I pay for the fabric if you buy it wholesale.

    Like I said before, one of the reasons I don't use Top Gun is because its a pain in the but to sew. If you look at the picture of the seams in the boat cover you posted there are all sort of creases and puckers along them. That is a characteristic of Top Gun and it drives me nuts. A lot of people have problems sewing the stuff.

    Use whatever you like or what the canvas maker is most comfortable with. The difference between two tops is really the skill of the guy making the top because both products are going to last a long time. Its the seams that fail so less seams is better.
    1998 Wellcraft Eclipse 24 Cuddy
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  19. #19
    Commander bear_69cuda's Avatar
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    Wink Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Quote Originally Posted by bruceb58 View Post
    He might be quoting the price after he adds his profit. I have been making covers for years as well and I also know how much Sunbrella costs and its not the price you are quoting!

    Again, the price of the fabric is a smaller percentage than what the labor is. For example, a small cockpit cover may only have 5 yards of material and the final cost is $400 depending on the labor in your area. So, even if the price difference was $5, the the total difference between the 2 tops would be $25 for material. The difference in price of a full cover would also be negligible.

    As far as a cockpit enclosure, I prefer the clean look of sunbrella without any silly looking roof vents.

    As far as your comment that I am saying your canvas maker is lying to you, not sure where you get that from. All I said was that your prices are inaccurate. I purchase my fabric from the largest wholesaler of Sunbrella in the nation and I am going by what I pay for the fabric if you buy it wholesale.

    Like I said before, one of the reasons I don't use Top Gun is because its a pain in the but to sew. If you look at the picture of the seams in the boat cover you posted there are all sort of creases and puckers along them. That is a characteristic of Top Gun and it drives me nuts. A lot of people have problems sewing the stuff.

    Use whatever you like or what the canvas maker is most comfortable with. The difference between two tops is really the skill of the guy making the top because both products are going to last a long time. Its the seams that fail so less seams is better.
    I respect your experience and opinions. I was just relaying information I received from my cover maker over the phone, to help Mark make a decision about material. Correct price or not, I was only a messenger... Can you tell us how much the cost actually is? Or is that bad politics on iboats? I'm only curious... I have a Sunbrella cockpit cover for my Hurricane, and do like how it fits. But personally for me, the outdoor storage, and my long distance trailering, I feel Top Gun is a good choice for my application...

    Peace brutha Bruce!


    Bear

    " Jackson Lee II " 2003 Key West 1720 CC, 2003 Yamaha 115 TRLB

    Mods to my Key West http://www.keywestboatsforum.com/topic716.html

    Additions to my former Cobalt: http://www.boatingabc.com/forums/ubb.../514856/1.html

    "SS Hurry Up" 1999 Bayliner Resto-mod: http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=292511

  20. #20
    Supreme Mariner bruceb58's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Most important factors to pick for a material are:

    1)Wear...both are good
    2)Breathable...Sunbrella is best.
    3)Color fastness...Sunbrella is best.
    4)Waterproof...Top Gun is best but at the cost of breathability.

    Price shouldn't be an issue for the consumer. For the shop making 100s of these a year, $50 per boat is significant and that is why many push other fabrics.
    1998 Wellcraft Eclipse 24 Cuddy
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    2006 Sun Tracker Party Barge 21
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    "Common sense is not very common"
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  21. #21
    Petty Officer 1st Class oceansbreeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    I had my custom cover made this morning, I'll post pics later - but I wanted to say I went with Top Gun. He gave me a sample of Top Gun, and he cut into it 2 inches, and told me to try and rip it. I couldn't tear it one bit, and I gave it my all!

    Now he gave me a piece of Sunbrella, and cut into the sample. I grabbed ahold of it the way I did the top gun, and with just a little bit more than minimal pulling, it started to rip, you could hear it, and I was all set to tear the piece in two...

    So yeah, they each have their advantages and disadvantages, but I have now seen first hand how the Top Gun is way stronger....
    http://forums.iboats.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=57030&dateline=124725  8064
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  22. #22
    Lieutenant jaxnjil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Quote Originally Posted by oceansbreeze View Post
    I had my custom cover made this morning, I'll post pics later - but I wanted to say I went with Top Gun. He gave me a sample of Top Gun, and he cut into it 2 inches, and told me to try and rip it. I couldn't tear it one bit, and I gave it my all!

    Now he gave me a piece of Sunbrella, and cut into the sample. I grabbed ahold of it the way I did the top gun, and with just a little bit more than minimal pulling, it started to rip, you could hear it, and I was all set to tear the piece in two...

    So yeah, they each have their advantages and disadvantages, but I have now seen first hand how the Top Gun is way stronger....
    i dont have a dog in this fight but have to call B S on this rip deal

    have seen worked with and handled both and this dosnt ring true

    Women are Angels.

  23. #23
    Petty Officer 1st Class oceansbreeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaxnjil View Post
    i dont have a dog in this fight but have to call B S on this rip deal

    have seen worked with and handled both and this dosnt ring true
    I kept a sample of the top gun, I'll try and get a piece of sunbrella somewhere and make a video.... I wouldn't make this up. Sunbrella was strong, but it did tear. I couldn't budge the top gun piece at all..

    The sunbrella had the strength of .... a good quality t-shirt at least.... but once it had the cut put in it, I had no problems continuing to rip it..
    http://forums.iboats.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=57030&dateline=124725  8064
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  24. #24
    Seaman mtbdudex's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    Quote Originally Posted by oceansbreeze View Post
    I kept a sample of the top gun, I'll try and get a piece of sunbrella somewhere and make a video.... I wouldn't make this up. Sunbrella was strong, but it did tear. I couldn't budge the top gun piece at all..

    The sunbrella had the strength of .... a good quality t-shirt at least.... but once it had the cut put in it, I had no problems continuing to rip it..
    Where did this end up? I'm interested.

    My 1996 Four Winns Horizon 170 is in need of replacement cover, the original one (14 years old) had strings come our, some tears. I live in SE Michigan and this boat is stored outside year round, boat used boating weekends and the twice/year trips. I don't need the 2-piece bowrider /main cabin custom cover with snaps per say.
    Mike R,P.E.
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  25. #25
    Petty Officer 2nd Class
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    Default Re: Best fabric for boat cover?

    I am curious about this too since I need a good waterproof cover. One thing I am curious about is when people say "Sunbrella" like it is one product is several colors. Aren't there different grades of Sunbrella?

    Wayne

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