What kind of material is ideal for boat covers?
Making a new boat cover requires a significant amount of DIY work, so you want to be sure it will last for a few years before beginning. Nobody wants to constantly resew or fix their covers. Choosing the proper fabric will help your cover keep its integrity for the next 5–10 years.
There are superior possibilities for each person’s preferences and needs; there is no clear-cut right or wrong option when it comes to selecting a cloth. Consider which fabric would work best for your lifestyle, your boat, and where you reside while weighing the pros and cons of the various options. We’ll give you an overview of a few of the characteristics you should take into account when picking fabric for your upcoming cover project.
Which is better, waterproof or water-resistant?
While the phrases “waterproof” and “water resistant” would appear to be synonymous, they are not. Even though the cloth is old, waterproof materials always reject water. Waterproof fabrics are typically made of vinyl, vinyl-coated fabric, or laminated fabric. Water-repellent fabrics are treated to prevent water from soaking through rather than naturally repelling water. The coating in these materials will eventually deteriorate and allow water to seep through. When water is permitted to collect on their surface, water-resistant materials can also leak.
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The obvious choice would then seem to be waterproof textiles, and they can be, with one caveat: they lack breathability. Air cannot pass through the surface of these materials because they are impenetrable. Mould and mildew can develop and lead to significant issues if air and moisture are kept inaccessible below a cover. You should include a boat cover vent (or vents) for ventilation when using a waterproof fabric to avoid moisture buildup. Herculite Riviera® and StamoidTM 8.3 oz. are two of our favourite waterproof cover materials.
You can pick a water-resistant fabric for your cover if you determine that breathability is more important to you than waterproofness. To prevent water from pooling, give your cover a proper pitch and add support poles as needed. Re-treat the cover with a fabric treatment like 303® Fabric Guard or Aqua-Tite® after a few years or after washing to regain its water repellency. For a breathable, water-resistant cover, consider Top Notch® 9, Sur Last®, or Sunbrella® Marine Grade.
Top Gun®, Top Gun® 1S, and Odyssey® textiles are in the middle of the waterproof/water resistant spectrum. Though barely breathable, they are almost waterproof. These materials are fantastic choices for covers; just keep in mind that they need to be vented.
1. iCOVER Trailerable Boat Cover- Water Proof Heavy Duty
2. iCOVER T-Top Boat Cover, for 22ft-24ft Long with T TOP Roof, 600D Heavy Duty
3. Boat Cover Support Poles 2 PK – Two Adjustable Small to Large Posts Boat Cover Pole
4. VINPATIO Jon Boat Cover 600D Solution-Dyed Polyester Heavy Duty Waterproof UV Resistant
Which is more resistant to UV or chafe?
Both chafe resistance and UV resistance are important in a cover fabric, but depending on where you live and sail, one of these qualities may take precedence over the other. UV protection is probably your biggest concern if you boat in offshore waters or near the shoreline. You’ll need a fabric that can withstand all that UV exposure because boats are frequently in the water and the sun is severe on the coast. We advise using a cloth made of Sunbrella Marine Grade for the highest UV resistance. Patches of Shelter-Rite® vinyl can be added in high-chafe locations to give additional chafe protection.
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If you sail inland or in a region with four distinct seasons, your boat has a respite from the elements during the winter, and the summer heat doesn’t become as scorching as it does on the coastlines. As a result, chafe resistance might become more important. Inland, a decent chafe-resistant cover will survive for a very long time and won’t need any additional reinforcement patches added. We suggest Top Notch 9, Top Gun, Top Gun 1S, Sur Last, and Odyssey for the best chafing resistance.
Strengthening Over Time
You might wish to think about the fabric’s durability over time when choosing between polyester and acrylic cover cloth. When new, polyester is more durable than acrylic. As a result, it is more dimensionally stable and abrasion-resistant than acrylic. However, acrylic maintains its strength over time, but polyester loses a significant amount of strength during the first five years (up to eight years for Top Notch).
If you don’t mind adding a few chafe-resistant patches to your acrylic cover, it will maintain its integrity for up to 10 years, even in higher UV regions. Choose polyester and receive superior strength for the first five years if you don’t want to deal with patches and fixes, and then evaluate your cover. Your polyester cover may even last longer than five years if you reside in a moderate area.
Choose Sunbrella Marine Grade material if you opt to use an acrylic cover. We advise Top Notch 9, Top Gun, Top Gun 1S, Sur Last, and Odyssey if you wish to utilise polyester.
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The following factors
Here are a few other factors to bear in mind as you give your cover cloth some serious thought:
the material’s weight. You should use a light cloth if your cover will be put on and taken off often. You can select a little heavier cloth if a storage cover’s longevity is more of a priority. The product page for each fabric includes a list of the fabric’s weights.
Colourfastness Look for a solution-dyed cloth if you intend to use a vividly coloured fabric that won’t fade. As a result, the colour penetrates every fibre, making it less likely to fade when exposed to UV radiation. Top Notch 9, Sur La, and Sunbrella Marine Grade are excellent examples of solution-dyed textiles.
choice of thread. If you determine that your cover needs maximum UV protection, you should also use lifetime thread when sewing it. Much like polyester cloth, UV polyester thread will significantly lose strength in the sun, and you won’t want to have to resew the cover after just a year or two. In our post titled “Selecting the Right Lifetime Thread” (#300000XHT), we discuss lifetime threads in more detail.
There is a lot to consider, but if you take the time to consider all your options, we believe you will choose a cover fabric that is ideal for your requirements. When you’re prepared to begin fabric shopping, go to our Marine Fabrics category and use the “Marine Uses” filter to find “Boat Covers.”