You need a bimini top but are overwhelmed at the number of different materials that are available. There are quite a few differences in how the many materials are made and what they will do for you. First of all it is important to point out that most materials are water resistant and not water proof. Sunbrella included. Sunbrella and others do offer water proof materials but when it comes to a bimini top water resistant is normally good enough.
This means water will bead up and roll off the material. Thus preventing saturation. Should water be allowed to collect on the material over a period of time or should you be caught in a long terrifying downpour, water will begin to seap through the material. More often than not this is not an issue.
A bimini top ideally should be made with a material that is at least an 8 oz weight material. Lighter materials can be used but given how fast most boats travel while underway the heavier materials hold up longer. If you own a boat that you typically do not go over 20 mph or so then a lighter weight material will suffice. Sunbrella, Outdura, and Recassins all offer a 9.25 oz material. Polyesters tend to run in a lighter ounce weight that can range from 4 to 8 oz.
Solution dyed materials will hold their color best. There are solution dyed acrylics such as Sunbrella, Outdura, and Recassins. There are also solution dyed polyesters such as Top Notch and Weathermax. Solution dyed polyesters are typically stronger than solution dyed acrylics. These materials get their color pigment before it is made into the finished product.
Polyester and polyester blends will not hold their color as well. They are produced as Grey Goods first and then the pigment is added to the material after it it woven into fabric. Aqualon, Surlast, Odyssey III and Top Gun are all polyester and polyester blends that perform very well in the market for bimini top material.
There really is no typical warranty. They range from 3 years on most polyesters up to 10 years on solution dyed acrylics. Though that warranty is nice, it is important to know that as long as you take care of your canvas, even in expensive polyester blend such as Odyssey III can give you many, many years of shade and protection from the rain.
So you know a little about what to look for but still need some recommendations. The first list is what I see in my industry by popularity. I always tell people that if they just need a bimini top to keep the rain and sun off their head not to be afraid to go to a more economical road and choose polyester. However, if you want to make sure your bimini top doesn't just function but will look like brand new for as long as possible you must consider solution dyed acrylics and solutions dyed polyesters.
Sunbrella has the best warranty right now that guarantees the fabric for 10 years against fading and deterioration.
1. Sunbrella (solution dyed acrylic)
2. Odyssey III (polyester blend)
3. Outdura (solution dyed acrylic)
4. Aqualon (polyester)
5. Weathermax 80 (solution dyed polyester)
Northstar Products' mission is to provide boat owners with high quality parts and products for their boats. We strive to do this at the lowest possible prices while still retaining a high level of customer service. We will exceed your expectations with our quality, timeliness, and professionalism. We are committed to making sure you are pleased with your purchase now and in the future. Northstar has been designing and building canvas for boats for over 35 years. Let our expertise and experience help guide you in making a good decision. If we can't help you we will point you in the direction of someone who can. Our goal as a fellow boater is to give you the best products at the best prices with the best warranties.