Canvas Care

Top quality canvas products are quite durable and will last for many seasons.
But the life of each item is greatly affected by how it is cared for and maintained after it is made.
That's where you come in- regular preventive maintenance will add years to your canvas and $ to your pocket.
Check out these tips below.
Further questions? Feel free to call/email us with questions or comments.
We will give you specific detailed Care Sheets for the items we use in your products, and the recommended maintenance products are available in our shop.

Common Care

How Do I Clean My Sunbrella Marine Fabric?

The best way to keep Sunbrella fabric looking good and to delay the need for deep cleanings is to hose it off regularly with clear water. In most environments, a thorough cleaning will be needed every two to three years.

Note: We will give you specific detailed Care Sheets for the materials used in your products.
We also carry the recommended maintenance and restoration products in the shop for purchase.

Here is some additional useful manufacturer information:
- How to Clean Sunbrella Marine Canvas (exterior)
- How to Clean Sunbrella Marine Upholstery
- Sunbrella Stain and Performance Fabric Cleaning Resource Page

How Do I Care for My Zippers, Snaps, and Other Fasteners?

Zippers and fasteners carry strong loads. The less unnecessary stress placed on them during normal operation, the less frequently you’ll have to replace or repair them. Good canvas design will have zippers out of sight behind the fabric for sun protection, and thicker reinforcement behind fasteners. Sometimes you can fix broken or missing fasteners yourself with the proper tools and parts. For larger/tougher jobs, we have the industrial-grade materials and tools of the trade to take care of you in the shop.

Note: We can repair/replace the zippers and fasteners in your marine canvas.
We also carry the recommended maintenance products in the shop for purchase.

Fasteners are made to be tight. They should be unsnapped by pulling as close to the fastener itself as possible. Don't remove canvas by jerking the edge of the material. This can damage the canvas as well as the fasteners. Use a tool like the Top Snapper if possible.

Zippers should be opened & closed monthly to be sure they operate freely. Operate smoothly top to bottom, don't jerk on the pull tab. Be sure the pin and box parts at the start of the zipper are lined up together before closing. A broken zipper cannot be repaired, it must be replaced.

Zippers and fasteners should be periodically cleaned and lubricated. Flushing with a strong stream of fresh water and a light brushing to remove salt & grit is usually sufficient.

With a zipper closed, lubricate it down the teeth. Metal fasteners can be treated with a thin film of lube applied with a finger. Good lubricants include products such as Star Brite, IOSSO, etc. These products contain ingredients specifically for this task. For old/flaking zippers, you may be able to get by (very) short term with Vaseline or a waxy lube stick until you can get it to a shop.

Remember, oily or excessive lubricant or wax will attract and retain grit which will wear the zipper or fastener out faster. Whichever product you use, be sure not to contact the canvas, windows, or any other surface besides the fastener. Silicone will damage the water-repellent coating on Sunbrella, for instance, and it is terrible for your vinyl windows.

Here is some additional useful zipper information:
- A Guide to Zippers

How can I get the best life from my canvas?

A simple formula will get you the best results, longest life, and best value for money with your canvas item(s):
1: Specify the best materials. We can determine that in the initial design discussion with you.
2: Have the piece built with "best practice" craftsmanship.That's our part!
3: Take the time to care for & maintain the piece(s) as recommended by us and the mfr. We will instruct you in the best care for your specific situation, and have available in our shop the proper cleaning/maintenance supplies for fabrics, windows, fasteners, and zippers.

Can I do some canvas repairs myself?

Yes you can if you have the tools, materials, and expertise.
First, you can help avoid repairs in the first place by following a regular maintenance program. Doing so can nearly double the useful life of your expensive canvas items.
Second, stay on top of small repairs before they become big. For instance, stitching that is beginning to deteriorate or pull apart can sometimes be fixed short-term by careful use of a home sewing machine and proper materials.

Fastener replacement and small sewing projects can also be very satisfying if you have the time and patience. Major repairs to your canvas or covers are usually best left to a professional canvas repair shop. A good repair shop has the industrial-strength machines, large tables, materials, and experience needed to make these repairs cost-effectively for you. If you aren't sure, call us and we can discuss it with you.

Remember though, it's can be easier and cheaper to make money in your business to pay for something than to learn a new business from scratch!

How Do I Care For My Vinyl or Polycarbonate Windows?

Top quality vinyl windows are surprisingly expensive, and wrinkle-free polycarbonate windows even more so. The key to long life is to protect the surface from scratching, rubbing, or folding, and avoiding harsh cleaners that quickly age the clear material. Periodically maintaining a protective coating with a recommended polish product completes the process. You will not be able to restore the finish if it gets severely damaged… maintain it correctly from the beginning!

Note: We will give you specific detailed Care Sheets for the materials used in your products.
We also carry the recommended maintenance and restoration products in the shop for purchase.

Proper care includes regular rinsing of salt spray and debris, periodic cleaning with a soft cloth, mild detergent, and warm water. Heat and harsh UV (sunlight) exposure hasten deterioration significantly. Don’t let bird droppings or other stains remain long- they can etch or stain the windows.
For vinyl, try not to handle the windows with sunscreen, hand creams, or other oily substances on your hands.
For polycarbonate, don’t bend the window through a tight radius to avoid micro-cracking. Don’t “pinch” it, the material can show a permanent “dimple” if creased.

Keeping the windows under cover, whether a whole boat cover or individual snap-on covers, can extend their life considerably. If your boat's windows will have full exposure for long periods, an investment in canvas window covers will pay back many times over.

Note: The Strataglass and O'Sea coated clear vinyls are different from standard uncoated clear vinyl! They have a special coating that requires special care, see below.

Here is some additional useful manufacturer information:
- How to Clean Vinyl Boat Windows - Strataglass Co.
- How to Care for Strataglass CrystalClear Windows
- How to Care for Strataglass Coated Windows
- How to Care for Regalite and O'Sea Marine Vinyl Windows
- PDF- Product Info and Care Brochure, Makrolon/Tuffak Marine Polycarbonates

How long will my new canvas items last?

There is no specific answer, but there are proven guidelines. It depends on which materials you have, the exposure of the boat to the elements, and how you take care of the canvas. Also, the various components age at different rates.
There are exceptions, but generally The woven fabrics will last the longest - top quality fabrics like Sunbrella & Weathermax have 10 year guarantees. Vinyls will usually be less. Stitching will deteriorate in high UV after a few years unless PTFE (Teflon) thread is used. Clear vinyl windows will last longer with covers. Zippers can be cleaned and maintained for longer life. Bottom line: with the best materials & construction and user care, a typical window panel, dodger, enclosure, or cover can last 5-10 years, even longer with good care. Cheap material not cared for can be essentially worn out after just a few seasons.

Should I buy marine-specific cleaning and care products?

This is a subject that constantly appears in social media and on YouTube. Everyone has an opinion, but most come from a very limited background that is not well informed.
In short,  if you value your investment, yes marine-specific products are best. Why?

Think about it. Top quality fabric and window material brands such as Sunbrella and Strataglass spend thousands of hours and dollars in research to make the best products possible for the harsh marine environment.  There is a lot of advanced technology and materials engineering used that the average customer is not aware of. They know exactly what chemicals and formulas will help or hurt their products. And they deal with warranty issues and customers who have done all sorts of things to their products.

Why would they recommend something less than the best care products? We know these manufacturers personally, and they do not use everyday products and charge double the price because it says "marine". There are very specific reasons the best products give the best life, and good ingredients cost more. In some cases warranties are restricted if the recommended care products are not used.

There are many options when it comes to cleaning and protecting, but if you value your many thousand $ enclosure, dodger, or cover, you will not use discount store products made for tents or shoes, especially when the good stuff is not much more.  You can call us for our specific recommendations for your situation to do it the right way.