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Old 04-26-2012, 06:32 PM   #1
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Flybridge Enclosure - Sunbrella vs Vinyl

Getting a new enclosed flybridge cover. I need to select between sunbrella fabric vs vinyl fabric for the cover. Will be used primarily in the PNW in the summer and the SF bay area the rest of the year. Any opinions one way or the other?

Thanks.
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:57 PM   #2
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What's the vinyl fabric? Sunbrella is Sunbrella but there are lots of vinyl fabrics. Do you have the brand brand name?
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:08 PM   #3
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... Sunbrella is Sunbrella ............
Sunbrella has three or four different fabrics suitable for the application. Their website is a good source of information. So are the local canvas shops that might be making the enclosure.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:58 PM   #4
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I'd want something that 'breathes'. I don't think vinyl breathes...nothing like being in a sauna on the flybridge. Colors are pretty, but the darker ones are hotter.
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Old 04-26-2012, 08:24 PM   #5
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The canvas guy said that there were several types of sumbrella fabrics and several types of vinyl fabrics, but that the characteristics were basically the same for each individual type.

He told me that Sunbrella would be water proof for the first year and then would need to be cleaned and re-coated each year to stay that way. It also breathes better, which is obviously important in warmer climates (maybe colder ones too, I'm not sure).

And, he told me vinyl will stay water proof for as long as the fabric stays intact, but doesn't breathe at all. Also, periodic cleaning is the only maintenance required.

It was his opinion that vinyl would be better for the locations I'll be using the boat, but I would like to hear from you experienced TF members, including which type of Sunbrella material or which type of vinyl material you prefer, or recommend.

Thanks again.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:19 PM   #6
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I just redid my enclosure with sunbrella, though I'm not sure which type. I am under the opinion that vinyl would not last in the sun down here. My old bimini was 7 years old and still going strong (needed some stitching redone) when Irene took it.

I found that spraying it with a waterproofing coating (there are a lot of brands) every six months or so kept it plenty waterproof.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:23 PM   #7
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Here is my new today bimini. The enclosure, boom cover and window screens go on next. Do you guys like the new color?
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:08 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Nsail View Post
The canvas guy said that there were several types of sumbrella fabrics and several types of vinyl fabrics, but that the characteristics were basically the same for each individual type.

He told me that Sunbrella would be water proof for the first year and then would need to be cleaned and re-coated each year to stay that way. It also breathes better, which is obviously important in warmer climates (maybe colder ones too, I'm not sure).

And, he told me vinyl will stay water proof for as long as the fabric stays intact, but doesn't breathe at all. Also, periodic cleaning is the only maintenance required.

It was his opinion that vinyl would be better for the locations I'll be using the boat, but I would like to hear from you experienced TF members, including which type of Sunbrella material or which type of vinyl material you prefer, or recommend.

Thanks again.
As much as I hate to say it...I think I'm going with vinyl the next go around for my bimini. As far as I'm concerned...I'd never have ANY fabric outside of the boat if I could...it's just more practical than anything is some situations.

I don't like vinyl...but I hate paying the high price of sunbrella and then having it disintegrate faster than I would like.
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:27 PM   #9
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Hmm... he told me that the price was about the same for both, so I didn't consider that. If vinyl is less expensive and he's not telling me, then maybe I should look elsewhere. Any other opinions?
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:33 PM   #10
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Hmm... he told me that the price was about the same for both, so I didn't consider that. If vinyl is less expensive and he's not telling me, then maybe I should look elsewhere. Any other opinions?
Depends..there are vinyls that are a lot cheaper...look at some of the ready to buy biminis at Bass Pro or Cabelas...places like that..the prices are rock bottom for the cheaper vinyl ones.

Good vinyl is expensive...but in my experience and I don't have a lot or recent with ordering fabric made stuff...but usually you could get a nice vinyl for significantly less.
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:53 PM   #11
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Do you guys like the new color?
Refreshingly, it's not blue.
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:31 PM   #12
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Or Yellow!!!
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:52 PM   #13
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Here is my new today bimini. The enclosure, boom cover and window screens go on next. Do you guys like the new color?
Very nice, Doug. It looks great with the brightwork.
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:59 PM   #14
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There is Sunbrella and there is Sunbrella. Some grades of it, while they come in the same favorite marine colors--- including Mark's special favorite, blue---- are NOT resistant to UV. Exposed to UV and the weather they wil fade badly within a year. The non-fade-resistant Sunbrellas are generally lighter in weight than the UV and weather resistant grades.

Most canvas shops should know the difference and use the right stuff on a boat project like a bimini or whatever. But if you're doing a project yourself make sure you get the proper type of Sunbrella for the job.

My wife thought she was getting a bargain a few years ago in a Portland fabric shop where they had rolls of Sunbrella on sale. She bought one--- fortunately it was very inexpensive--- and used it for a patch on our ancient flying bridge cover that should have blown apart a decade ago but hasn't.

The fabric matched the color of the cover perfectly until...... it started to fade in a matter of months. Today the fabric in the patch is still strong but it has faded to a light blue-gray. And my wife has gone back to buying her Sunbrella at a proper tent and awning store.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:19 AM   #15
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I had Sunbrella on the previous boat. The stuff held up for 17 years. The top did get thin, you could see the sun thru it near the end but it didn't leak much if you kept it coated. The operative word is much. If I were to do another one I might choose vinyl. Especially if it were a top that was high enough to not be totally visible. The stuff I'm thinking of might not be vinyl, but rather a urethane coated nylon or polyester. They use it for transport truck tarps. It is available in more colors than black, but not nearly the colors of sunbrella. I don't see the need in breathable for a top if the side curtains are not up. Hardtops don't breath either.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:45 AM   #16
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Hardtops don't breathe either.
Good point! I was thinking the same thing. If it's only the top, which you effectively can't even see, it could be anything that matches colorwise and holds up to the given weather conditions for years. The side curtains (especially if they roll up) should be breathable, though...
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:57 AM   #17
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What ever fabric you chose, make sure your canvas guy uses Tendra (Gortex) thread. Tendra will last the life of the fabric, other wise you'll be restitching in several years. It's more expansive but the over all cost is minimal.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:04 AM   #18
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What ever fabric you chose, make sure your canvas guy uses Tendra (Gortex) thread. Tendra will last the life of the fabric, other wise you'll be restitching in several years. It's more expansive but the over all cost is minimal.

I think this is where most fabrics used on a boat fall short of what they should...bad thread/stitching....the other weak point is the clear vinyl windows...unless you get the good stuff and treat it better than your kids...
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:49 AM   #19
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Is Stamoid vinyl? We had stamoid 2 boats ago- liked it a lot but it was a job keeping the white color looking white and clean. I liked it though- kept things cooler on the bridge and it held up well.
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:22 AM   #20
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Sunbrella (the type used for outdoor marine applications will last for many, many years. Ten, fifteen, and more. It does have to be treated with a waterproofing product after cleaning or every few years.

At least one of the Sunbrella products used in marine applications has a vinyl layer laminated to one side (the underside or inside if installed correctly). They have products with one color on one side and another on the other side so you could have black or blue on the outside and white or light grey on the inside.

Again, check the Sunbrella website.
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