While coming up with how we were going to run our leaky seam test, Justin’s son was assigned a science project at school. We twisted his arm a bit and got him and his partner to do a test on the fabrics we have on our shelve for water tightness. Justin helped him design a similar “bag” that they could tie on a bucket and pour water into. We gave them five different fabrics, had them cut them out and with Justin’s help, sew them up. They tested Aqualon Edge, Top Notch 9, WeatherMax 80, Recacril and, Sunbrella. They tied the bags on to the buckets, put one gallon of water in each and hit record on the GoPro. Little did we know the next morning we would be in for a surprise.
TEST 1 – NEW FABRIC
TEST 2 – “WORN” FABRIC
Our shop uses TopNotch 9 and has written a blog or two on why we like it and recommend people use it. But when we came in in the morning and found that all the buckets were essentially full except the Top Notch 9, that pallet of fabric we just received is looking like a mistake and we might need to rethink our fabric selection. After about 24 hours the remaining water was dumped out and we noticed that all of the fabrics had beads of water on the underside, indicating that water was making its way through, even if it was very slow. The Aqualon Edge had the smallest amount of water clinging to it followed by the (in order of performance) Sunbrella, WeatherMax, Recacril and already stated TopNotch9. Recacril is also a fabric we use a lot of but at this point in the testing, the top performers were all so close we didn’t see any red flags there. The second part of this test was where we felt we would really get a good feeling for the best performing fabric. They took the 5 covers home and tossed them in the washing machine with 2 towels on the spin cycle for about 2 hours and NO detergent. The point of this was best simulate a “worn” cover. They let them fully air dry and repeated the test on the bucket with one gallon of water. We all expected every fabrics performance to decrease. We expected the TopNotch9 to be like a towel and have the water just fall through it. We expected the other woven products to leak more than the initial test but to leak at a similar rate to each other. Well again the Aqualon Edge did the best, as it should being a coated product. However, it did leak more water than anticipated. But the real question was, how did the woven products hold up? To our astonishment and relief, the best performing woven product was Top Notch 9, it performed BETTER after being run through the washer than it did brand new. In order of performance, the full results on our “weathered” test were Aqualon Edge, TopNotch 9, Sunbrella, with WeatherMax and Recacril looking very similar. This did give us something to think about. Sunbrella really outperformed Recacril, but we really like the tighter weave of Recacril and we have seen it hold its shape a bit better over the long run because of that. And what is the deal with Top Notch 9, how did it seem to improve? We have more tests to run. Our conclusion is, wide and ranging. In this test Sunbrella out preformed Recacril, a fabric we use a lot of. WeatherMax initially outperformed Top Notch 9, begging the question what’s more important the brand new or aged product. Do you want more maintenance in treating your cover or something that leaks a bit more initially but maintains what it has longer? We have other tests we now need to run. We want to run the same test comparing a few different coated products. We want to run some stress and load tests, to test stretching and deformation. We would like to run some tests on worn products that are treated with 303 Fabric Guard or Aquatite. We have questions for our vendors and the manufactures. So ultimately we have more work to do in our search for the best fabric, to suit your specific application and need.