General Information

Today’s “marine canvas” is a sophisticated woven composite textile made from a variety of fibers, mostly synthetic. But the canvas-maker’s tradition continues, with modern materials combined with old-world craftsmanship.

The benefits of quality canvas products include Protection, Comfort, Safety, Style, Reduced Maintenance, and Increased Resale Value.

We can custom-craft nearly any item for you, including the popular products listed within our website. We can also sell you supplies and materials if you prefer to make or repair it yourself.

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General Questions

How long will it take to get my new canvas items?
That depends on several factors. Simple projects & repairs can require only a few days, more complex and larger projects can take weeks or longer. Accurate scheduling is a constant challenge. In busy seasons is not uncommon for canvas shops to be booked for months in advance. Material availability, location of the boat, complexity of the job, other work being done on the boat at the same time, and the weather all factor into the equation. We will work out a schedule with you that meets your needs, and do our best to meet that schedule. Remember, your canvas product is hand-made to your specifications from raw materials, and is a one-of-a-kind item. It will be worth waiting for! We work late and long to deliver your project.

How long will my new fabric canvas last?
Sunbrella now has a 10 year warranty, WeatherMax 80 have a 5 year limited warranty. If you keep the fabric clean, replace worn/broken fasteners and stitching as needed, and avoid excessive abrasive action (including loose canvas flapping in the wind), you will get maximum life. Less than good care and hard use will reduce the lifespan of your canvas significantly, and these items are not covered under the warranty.

The stitching usually goes first, because it is exposed to abrasion, constant tension, flexing, pollution, sunlight UV rays, water, cleaning agents, and being snagged with sharp items. You should check the stitching periodically by rubbing it with your fingernail in a high-wear area. If the stitching starts to fall apart, have the item restitched promptly. Once seams begin to loosen and part, the fabric will lose its shape and become difficult and expensive to salvage. One option to extend thread life is to use a Teflon (PTFE) thread like SolarFix (see next answer).

Proper tension and fit is also important- baggy, loose, or torn tops that flap in the wind wear out much faster. Mold, moss, and mildew from poor ventilation can also do much damage in a short time.

How can I avoid the cost of re-stitching every few years?
Regardless of material quality and craftsmanship, the thread is usually the weakest link in the durability of a canvas product. At some point, perhaps around halfway through the life of the canvas fabric, the stitching will need to be re-done. The goal is to hold this off as long as possible; or even avoid it entirely.

The best conventional solution to this is to use high-tech PTFE threads (PTFE is commonly known by the DuPont brand name Teflon®) like SolarFix. This thread is guaranteed to last the life of the fabric in which it is used. Compared to the best bonded UVR 138 poly threads, PTFE thread is more expensive, doesn’t come in as many colors, can be tricky to sew with, and is not quite as strong as heavy-duty 138 poly thread when both are new. But after a few years, the poly thread loses much of its strength, while PTFE thread stays as strong as new. It’s a wise investment that will pay for itself several times over. whether you keep your boat a long time or sell it.

Why do prices vary between canvas shops?
There are differences in regional costs of doing business, shop overhead, and shop efficiency. Reputable shops also have the additional costs of insurance and the proper business licenses to operate legally. You do want someone to come back to if there’s a problem, right?

Also, the quality of materials quoted for the job can vary. For instance, good window vinyl is much more expensive than cheap, and is a big part of the overall cost of a job with windows. Cutting corners on vinyl quality can save hundreds of dollars on the estimate, and the customer may not know the difference… at first. But it shows up soon enough! There are many ways to cut corners on fabrication, and most of them give an inferior result.

Stick with name brands that have stood the test of time. It also pays to do business with a shop that will be in business next year when you need a little repair work or that new canvas item. A reputable shop will guide you to the best overall solution for your specific needs, not necessarily the cheapest or the most expensive.

Also, good canvas work is very labor-intensive. Patterning and measuring can be quite tricky. Any experienced canvas shop will tell you that no boat is made plumb, level, and square, which is why we do new measurements and patterns for each job, even if we just finished one “just like it”. It’s the difference in an “off the rack” fit vs. a custom tailored suit. 

Remember, sometimes it’s much easier to make money to pay for something than to learn a new trade from scratch.

Can’t I just buy a pre-made Bimini or cover?
Yes, pre-made covers and tops of several types are available from marine stores, mail-order, and Internet vendors. Some of these (like sail covers, dinghy covers, etc.) may be acceptable if your boat is a common make & model, you have made no changes and added no equipment, don’t need to match existing canvas, don’t have any specific requirements, and are on a strict budget.

However, these products are generally mass-produced with inferior fabrics, hardware, and construction, and are disposable, not really built to last. Knock-off copies of brand names like Sunbrella and LenZip Zippers are common. They are also generic in fit, even by specific model & year, so they often don’t look right despite your best efforts. We see many of them fail within a year, and they aren’t worth repairing. They are made to a price; after all, that’s what you were looking for, right?!

Actually, the best pre-made covers & tops can approach the cost of a locally-made custom job. If the budget is a concern, discuss it with your local canvas shop; they may well be able to work with you to make that “just for you” job surprisingly affordable!

Can you just copy my old canvas piece to make the new one?
We can do it, but it probably will not fit properly. New materials have different characteristics than old materials. The old material has had years of stretching and weathering, and supporting frames also take a set, become loose, etc. The surest way to get a proper fit with your new canvas is to make a new pattern using the actual boat. The exception to this might be hatch covers, sail covers, or other items that are non-tensioned.

Can you make me a new top using the old side panels?
The best way to get a proper fit for a custom canvas soft enclosure is to build from the top down, not the sides up. Think of it as if you were building a house; You have to have a foundation to build upon. It is better to keep the old top repaired until the top and sides can be done at the same time.

What’s the right type, weight, and size fabric for my canvas?
Different applications and environments require different fabric and weight solutions. There are many trade-offs between physical strength, weight, UV resistance, water repellency, abrasion resistance, cost, colors, etc. That’s why we discuss your needs with you before making recommendations on the right fabric, weight, and size.

Generally, fabric weight is stated in ounces per square yard before coating and treatments are applied. Heavy fabrics are not necessarily more durable than lighter ones. For instance, a boat cover made with lightweight 6.5 oz polyester fabric can be twice as strong as 10 oz cotton canvas, and also have better abrasion resistance. Also, marine fabric is sold by the running yard, which is a yard long piece at whatever the production width is; this could be 36″, 48″, 60″, 65″, 72″ wide or more. The roll width of the fabric chosen will have design and construction implications. Bottom line, modern materials have quite a lot of technology behind them, and require knowledge for best application.

How do I make the right choice for my new windows?
You have a lot of choices in today’s marine window material. The right choice for you depends on how you use your boat, and the budget for the project. Good quality windows are possible in a range of prices if properly designed.

Flexible Windows are typically made of vinyl, in thicknesses from .020 to .040, and in both roll and polished sheet forms. The general principle is that the thicker materials are more optically true and last longer, but cost more and are stiffer and harder to roll up in colder temperatures. Pressed/polished sheet material is significantly better optical quality than rolled vinyl. The best quality vinyl available is a patented brand called Strataglass, available with an anti-scratch & UV protective coating. It’s more expensive than garden-variety vinyl, but once you’ve tried this material, you will never go back. It also pays for itself over time with much longer life.

Semi Rigid Windows are typically polycarbonate or acrylic, from .030 to .080. Lakeside uses Makrolon® AR. They offer superb strength and optical characteristics, and the .060 and .080 thicknesses have anti-scratch & UV coatings for long life. Designing for ventilation openings etc. can be a challenge since semi-rigid windows can’t be rolled up, but if conditions allow, these windows are the absolute ultimate experience.

Make sure your marine fabricator takes the time to explain the benefits of each type of window material, helps you choose the right system for your specific needs, and creates a thoughtful design that gives you the best overall results.

Is stainless steel really “stainless”?
Actually, no. There are two main types of stainless steel commonly used in marine applications; 304 and 316. Both resist most oxidizing acids and can withstand all ordinary rusting. However, they both will tarnish!

Type 304, or one of its modifications, has slightly higher strength and wear resistance than type 316, and is used for components where both strength and corrosion resistance are needed.

Type 316 has molybdenum added to increase corrosion resistance, but it is still not resistant to warm sea water. In many marine environments 316 does exhibit surface corrosion, usually visible as brown staining. This is particularly associated with crevices and rough surface finish.

To care for stainless tubing & fittings, rinse with fresh water when possible, especially in cracks & crevices. Don’t use harsh chemicals or abrasives on it, and clean when needed with your favorite marine metal polish.

This information was used with the expressed permission of:Alameda Canvas and CoveringsGrand Marina 2021 Alaska Packer Place #108, Mailbox 20 Alameda, CA 94501phone/fax: 510-769-8885email:

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