When the time comes to replace the canvas top for your boat-whether it’s a traditional three bow bimini top, an attached bimini on a cruiser, or a big top on a house boat-we’ve got options for you. Before you decide to go with Sunbrella, which is the most popular choice, we encourage you to look at a few other options that might work for you as well. There are a few important questions to ask while searching for your next top, so be sure you’re taking a few things into consideration.
Are you mainly looking for shade (wally, ski or small fishing boats) or overall protection from the elements (larger cruisers, sailboats, or houseboats)?
The two main fabric manufacturers that we recommend for any top are Sunbrella and Ferrari Stamoid. There are many other fabrics on the market, but these are the two most recommended in our shop.
Sunbrella has a couple of downsides to it and the first is its issues with lighter colors. From our experience, the lighter colors just don’t last as long. They’re also harder to keep clean-white fabrics more than any other. On the flipside, however, Sunbrella’s darker colors seem to outlast most other fabrics.
One of the most common misconceptions with Sunbrella is that it’s waterproof, when it’s actually just water repellent. Sunbrella Plus and Sunbrella Supreme are a couple of bona-fide waterproof options, but the fabric itself isn’t the waterproof part. The protection comes from the undercoating on the Plus and the bonded soft headliner fabric for the Supreme. We love Sunbrella Supreme, and with its soft headliner, you can get a black top with a linen interior that will really make a big difference in the look and feel of your boat. It’s our preferred and recommended option if you’re leaning towards Sunbrella.
Some of the other upsides are the life expectancy and easy maintenance. Sunbrella comes with a 10-year warranty and you should have no trouble keeping it looking great. There is a line of 303 cleaning and care products that can help extend the water repellency and the UV life. There is already a wide color pallet with new colors and patterns being added each year. Regular Sunbrella is also the most economical option of these fabrics as well (Sunbrella Plus and Premium both tend to run about 20-50% more).
Serge Ferrari Stamoid
The major downside to Ferrari Stamoid is the price increase, which puts it closer in range to the Sunbrella Supreme. The color options are also much more limited aside from the standard marine colors and a few bi-colored choices (color on the outside and white on the inside). There’s also a much shorter warranty of 5 years (7 on the silicone options).
On the upside, Ferrari Stamoid is coated polyester which makes it genuinely waterproof everywhere we haven’t sewn. It’s also weldable so we don’t have to sew large pieces together while making a big top for a houseboat. It’s also a remarkably UV, dirt and mold resistant material. There are 4 different shades of white to best match your gel coat, and its smooth coating keeps it very clean. There’s also a silicone coating option which keeps it from getting dirty, and its unique flexibility makes storage very easy. With all that we’ve seen and our experience with its life expectancy, Ferrari Stamoid is just about as good as Sunbrella.