Guide to Boat Bimini Top Fabrics
A Bimini top provides protection from UV rays and rain to bring comfort and relaxation to your boat. And the right one can make your boat look great!
Bimini Top Frames and Fittings
Bimini top frames are made of either aluminum or stainless steel. Aluminum is cheaper and therefore more common, while stainless steel is more expensive but stronger and much less prone to corrosion.
Aluminum Bimini top frames are fine for most boaters, particularly those on a budget. However, stainless steel Bimini frames are more durable and best for saltwater use.
Bimini top fittings come in various materials, with nylon and stainless steel being the most common. Nylon fittings are the cheapest but also the weakest. Stainless steel fittings on the other hand are the most durable and highly recommended regardless of the frame material.
What to Look for in Bimini Top Fabrics
The fabric is arguably the most important thing to look for in a Bimini top. These fabrics come in a wide variety of options, and of course the higher quality fabric you get, the better it looks and the longer it lasts.
All Bimini top fabrics need to be replaced eventually, but choosing the best quality fabric available means not having to replace it as often. It’s usually cheaper to buy the most expensive fabric once if it lasts 10 years than buying a lesser fabric you’ll have to replace more often.
When choosing Bimini top fabric, seek out the following qualities:
- UV resistant
- Water resistant/waterproof
- Fade and mold-mildew resistant
- Easy to clean and handle
- Compliments your boat
- Comes with a lengthy warranty
Types of Bimini Top Fabrics
Bimini tops fabrics are made of either acrylic, or polyester variants. Acrylic is considered the best fabric, followed by solution-dyed polyester, polyester-vinyl composite and lastly, plain polyester.
Acrylic is a highly durable woven fabric that’s soft and strong. It’s UV resistant and breathable, which makes it mold and mildew resistant. Acrylic is also fade-resistant and holds its color longer. Its only weakness is that it needs to be waterproofed every few years, and being the best quality fabric, it also means it’s the most expensive.
Solution-dyed Polyester Fabric
Solution-dyed polyester is a relatively new Bimini top fabric some claim is just as good as acrylic. It’s more water-repellant than acrylic fabric, and comparable in UV, fade and mold-and-mildew resistance to acrylic. However, it’s not as durable as acrylic fabric.
Vinyl-coated Polyester Fabric
The polyester-vinyl composite is a very popular fabric for Bimini tops. It’s extremely waterproof, easy to clean and more affordable than acrylic. However, it’s not as durable as acrylic, it’s non-breathable and the colors fade faster.
Polyester Bimini tops are the most affordable, so they score highly for boaters seeking a budget-friendly top. It’s water and mold-and-mildew resistant. However, polyester fabric colors fade over time and it’s not as durable as the other fabric options.
Bimini Top Thread
Find out the type of thread used to stitch the Bimini top. If the thread isn’t durable enough, your Bimini top will deteriorate no matter how high the fabric quality.
A thread that isn’t UV resistant will also quickly deteriorate under direct sunlight and may only last one or two boating seasons.
PRO TIP: PTFE thread is the strongest on the market and supposedly outlasts any fabric it’s used with. However, PTFE is expensive, so if you’re on a budget, seek out other high tensile threads such as polyester and polydacron thread.
PRO TIP 2: Sunbrella is widely regarded as the most durable Bimini top fabric brand. A Sunbrella top is the most expensive, but it’s extremely resistant to UV rays, fading, water, mildew, shrinking and stretching, and typically comes with a 10-year warranty.
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