Re: Good prices on Sunbrella?
There are several other companies that make outdoor materials, and some even make them for the marine environment. But Sunbrella is the market leader and has established a reputation for quality. Plus, most boat manufaturers, and most sail lofts/canvas makers, use Sunbrella and not other brands. I may need a dodger and bimini for the new (to us) boat - the frames were there, but I didn't see any of the fabric pieces when I was aboard last time. So, I'm trying to see if there is a good source for Sunbrella or Sunbrella-like fabric that I could use to make the Bimini and dodger. The mainsail cover is coming apart and will need to be replaced or repaired. If it weren't for the fact that the jib has a Sunbrella cover (roller furling), I'd probably try a different brand of fabric. But I'm 80-90% sure that the jib cover is Sunbrella, and the main's cover is likely to be Sunbrella too, so I'd like the bimini and dodger to match as close as I can.
As an aside, I bought some "Pacific Blue" marine fabric on eBay for my old boat. It wasn't Sunbrella, and when it arrived, it didn't match the existing, Sunbrella Pacific Blue dodger or the mainsail cover, but I decided I was OK with it being mismatched because the price was right, and the colors were complimentary. Over last winter, I made lifeline pads and covers, storage bags that hung over the stern rail, sheet bags, a tiller cover, a hatchboard bag, and a bunch of other stuff with the fabric. When spring came and I put them on the boat, she looked sharp (I was proud of my very amateurish work). By the time September came, the fabric that was left outside had faded a LOT, and was dry and brittle. Snaps pulled through 2 and 3 layers of the material, and it just wasn't living up to my expectations. Now, I may have been able to make the material last longer by treating it with 303 or something like that, but I THOUGHT I was buying outdoor fabric that was comparable to Sunbrella (which doesn't need that kind of treatment the first year). So, I'm a little gun-shy at this point. Given the labor that will go into making the bimini and dodger (and a binnacle cover, and winch covers, and a companionway cover, and...), I think I'd rather spend a few dollars more and get a known quantity. Weathermax might work, but I'd need to know more about it.
I know Practical Sailor did a review of two different outdoor fabrics (one of which was Sunbrella) and they thought both were decent, though Sunbrella was a better choice for biminis because it blocked more sunlight than the other brand.
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