View Full Version : Boat Cover Sunbrella or Sunbrella Plus?
10-16-2011, 03:33 AM
I'm getting ready to order material for a year round cover for my 15' sailing/rowing skiff (running out of garage space...).
I had been planning to use regular Sunbrella marine fabric, but ran across a website that insisted boat covers should be fabricated from Sunbrella Plus and never from regular marine Sunbrella. Info was from an outfit called CSC Textiles, http://reviews.ebay.com/SUNBRELLA-Outdoor-FABRIC-Different-Series-FACTS?ugid=10000000000697707
I live on the coast of Washington (Ocean Shores, WA) so we get a lot of rain and wind during the winter. The cover will need to function as both a summer cover (i.e., boat covered when not being used, but cover removed often and boat covered at night or within a couple of days), and as a winter cover (i.e., boat covered without removing the cover for weeks at a time).
I know several posters have previously posted on making covers and cover materials (particularly the very nice thread on making a cover for Rowan). Based on those threads it seems that regular Sunbrella should be fine since I don't recall any specific mention of Sunbrella Plus. Any opinions on whether regular Sunbrella is OK, or should I go with Sunbrella Plus (as always $ are a factor).
BTW, the boat is ply/epoxy, sheathed on outside and interior bottom (interior bottom sheathed recently as, after 10+ years, the fir ply was checking thru the epoxy only coating), epoxy coated only rest of interior, and yes I've read all of the various posts on the pluses/minuses of epoxy, but regardless of opinions, that's what I've got.
10-16-2011, 10:25 AM
I have a 12 year old regular sunbrella cover on a small boat, it is in great shape. I put and additional pitched,(does not lay on) , poly cover over it. And a light bulb runs in the winter.
My sunbrella boom tent on another boat gets a bit of chafe damage. 20 minutes on the sewing table per year fixes that.
What is the apparent plus of "plus"?
10-16-2011, 06:11 PM
Sunbrella Plus is urethane coated on one side. The info on that review is Bull. Thousands of year-round boat covers have been built from regular Sunbrella and have worked just fine for decades in weather a lot more severe that what you will ever see. Build the cover with enough support and shape that the water won't pool on it, refresh the finish every couple of years with 303 Fabric Guard spray and you will be just fine with regular Sunbrella. As wet as it is in your area, you're probably actually better off with regular Sunbrella because it breathes a lot better than anything with a coating, and breathability is just as important, or more important, in good covers than excessive amounts of water resistance.
I have built some sort of full or cockpit cover for almost every sailboat I've ever owned, even including my iceboat, and they usually sat outside year round. I can buy any material I want at wholesale cost and regular Sunbrella is all I have ever used for my own boats. They don't get water in them and they don't grow mold inside.
10-16-2011, 07:00 PM
Thank you both for your posts.
Regular Sunbrella it will be. This confirms my own thinking about using regular Sunbrella to get the superior breathability.
I had assumed previous posts mentioning Sunbrella were, in fact, discussing regular Sunbrella, just wanted to make sure before I order material.
10-18-2011, 09:38 AM
Just to confirm the information provided by Todd -- Sunbrella is water repellant and breathable. Sunbrella Plus is highly water repellent due to the urethane coating on the underside (it's also stiffer due to the coating). Our concern in opting for Plus in this application would be breathability. In a rainy region such as you describe, having a cover that doesn't breathe could promote mildew growth. You could still opt for Plus but you would need to make sure you provide adequate venting. We hope this helps.
The Sunbrella Team
10-19-2011, 11:40 AM
I have a sunbrella cover on my peapod thats 20 years old! Mostly stored outside, in the exact conditions as you describe (im just a few hours north of you).
Still looks great.
I highly recommend adding vents. I have two stern-facing "dorades" on my cover that provide lots of ventilation. They are little more than small "Scoops" that are maybe 4" tall. SInce they face the stern, you can leave it on when trailering to protect the boat. I can put up a picture if you wish.
If you haven't seen it, James McMullen did an excellent thread on building a complete cover for Rowan. Its well worth searching out.
10-19-2011, 01:40 PM
Again, thanks to all who have posted, I've ordered the Sunbrella and it's on the way.
BBSebens, I'd appreciate pictures of your vents.
10-19-2011, 02:44 PM
Sailrite carries the vents to sew into your top.
Vent Aire Ventilator (http://www.sailrite.com/Vent-Aire-Ventilator)
10-19-2011, 05:03 PM
That is precisely what I have. Just sew some left-overs onto the plastic to cover it. Pretty easy. I have a pair, one at the bow and one at the stern. You may want to change your layout for your boat, but it seems to work well for me.
Ill try to get some pics up soon though.
10-19-2011, 05:50 PM
I had a hooded vent on the stren of the full cover for my Star that was pretty easy to make. The cover went over the boom like a boom tent, so at the aft peak I sewed in a triangle of heavy mesh maybe 6" on a side, both to reinforce the shape of the hole so that it wouldn't distort, and to keep bugs out. Over that, I sewed a Sunbrella hood/flap piece that was open at the bottom and had a piece of heavy weed-eater line in the bottom edge to keep the hood open. Worked well, was cheap, and unbreakable. You can even buy ring mounts for Nicro day/night solar-powered vent fans that are designed to fit a hole cut in the canvas if you want forced-air venting.
One thing that always sounded interesting, but I have yet to try it is contrasting colors. The guys who designed most of the fancy tents for The North Face used to routinely mix up light and dark-colored panels on their tents. I asked one of them once why they did it. The answer was (1) it makes the tents more colorful, so they sell better, and (2) the color difference creates uneven heating from the sun, and that promotes air movement inside the tent. I don't have any idea whether this concept is a big enough deal to bother with, but air movement inside a covered boat can be quite valuable, so it might be worth trying sometime.
10-19-2011, 07:41 PM
I'm having a Sunbrella boom tent made for my sailboat as we speak. I'd considered a pattern or design for it like Todd mentions, but will go with a single color for now. We can always sew a design or pattern onto it inn overlay after considering the appearance of the finished product. I had not considered the airflow promoting possibility, but airflow won't be a problem since the boat is on a mooring where there's enough wind most every day. I can imagine it might help for a boat on a trailer or in a protected marina.
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