Frequently Asked Questions

We get lots of questions about canvas!
There is almost always more than one way to do anything on a boat, and that includes marine canvas.
Craftsmanship, technology, ingenuity, intended use, environment, and tradition are all involved.

Every shop will have something different to offer. Each craftsperson will be giving you the benefit of personal experiences, regional techniques, and opinions on the best approach to providing good canvas.
Opinions and practices may vary somewhat, but the points covered here will keep you on the right track...
Feel free to call/email us with questions or comments.

How do I begin with my project?

Whether a simple repair or large project, the best way to begin is to contact us for a discussion. You can call, email, or stop by the shop. Currently email is fastest for us to respond.
Photos of the project, the type of boat and location, and your timeframe are important.
We can make good progress even by phone and email if we get good information from you, so you don't need to stop at the shop first. If you do, please note the COVID 19 protocols below.

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. 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. (See above for COVID 19 affect on shop) delivery

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 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.

Can you just copy my old canvas piece to make the new one?

We can do it, but it likely 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. That's why we need access to the boat in most cases to do our best work. The exception to this might be hatch covers, sail covers, or other items that are non-tensioned.

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 often mass-produced with price-point materials and construction, and have a limited life expectancy. Knock-off copies of brand fabrics and hardware 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 low price; after all, that's what you were looking for, right?!

Some aftermarket vendors do produce good products, and there are times when it makes sense to use them. We can advise you of the ones we have had good experiences with.

Actually, the best pre-made covers & tops can approach the cost of a locally-made custom canvas 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!

Is stainless steel really "stainless"?

Actually, no. The stainless steel used on boats will resist most oxidizing acids and can withstand ordinary rusting. However, it will tarnish.

There are two main types of stainless steel commonly used in marine applications.
Type 304 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.

Be sure to get high quality buffed finish tubing to get the kind of look you are used to seeing on railings, stanchions, etc. We use American made ASTI tubing. It's more expensive but worth it!