Recently I was asked this question in an online cruising forum: "
Since this seems to be a common theme for people doing research and trying to choose a fabric for their next boat canvas project I thought it might be useful to address the answer publicly.
The chart above shows the data that I was able to find for each fabric but those numbers don't mean a whole lot to most people. So here is a less-scientific breakdown:
What is Sunbrella? Sunbrella is a fluorocarbon-finished 9.25 oz./yd² (314 g/m²) ( solution-dyed acrylic fabric. It is produced by Glen Raven, Inc.
What is Stamoid? Stamoid is a vinyl-coated 12.64 oz.yd² (430 g/m²) high-tenacity polyester fabric produced by Ferrari Textiles Corp.
What is WeatherMAX? WeatherMAX is an 8 oz./yd² (271 g/m²) HydroMax-finished SaturaMax solution-dyed filament-yarn polymer fabric produced by Safety Components Fabric Technologies, Inc.
What is Coastguard? Coastguard is a 9 oz./yd² (305 g/m²) solution-dyed acrylic fabric produced by Glen Raven, Inc.
What is Recacril? Recacril is a 9 oz./yd² (305 g/m²) solution-dyed acrylic fabric produced by Recasens USA.
Sunbrella marine fabrics are, by far, the most common marine fabrics found in most areas of the United States (definitely here in Annapolis!). As a fabric that has been around for over 50 years Sunbrella is a well-known quantity, a great brand, and a great product backed by a 10-year warranty! As such Sunbrella is the first recommendation of most marine canvas shops for almost any top or cover, so much so that it might even be considered over-used. Sunbrella's main strengths are its color-fastness, and the combination of water-resistance with breathability.
Stamoid Top is a vinly-laminated (both sides) high-tenacity polyester. Although Ferrari Stamoid makes a wide variety of yachting textiles I chose Stamoid Top due to its prevalence compared to the other Ferrari Stamoid products. Here in Annapolis I would say that the most common usage of Stamoid is in the panel borders of a powerboat enclosure such as a flybridge enclosure on a sport-fishing yacht. This fabric is very durable and tolerates extreme long-term exposure quite well considering that many of the applications for which it is favored tend to remain installed year-round. Stamoid should only be used for applications which do not require the fabric to breath since as a vinyl-coated fabric Stamoid will not breathe.
WeatherMAX 80 is made using SaturaMAX solution-dyed filament polymer yarns in an "ottoman weave". The fabric is finished with a HydroMax finish which provides excellent water- and mildew-resistance while maintaining the breathability of the woven fabric. WeatherMAX makes for a great choice when lightness of the fabric and protection from the elements are paramount concerns.
Coastguard is a solution-dyed acrylic fabric from Glen Raven, Inc. This product offers many of the benefits of Sunbrella and in most ways is indistinguishable from Sunbrella. The biggest difference seems to be that Coastguard is available in a narrower array of colors. Coastguard is a great option when breathable water-resistance is needed.
Recacril is a solution-dyed acrylic fabric from Recasens USA. This product is available in a wide array of colors. Again, like the other acrylics listed here, Recacril offers water-resistance combined with breathability and color-fastness. Recacril is available in three widths: 47", 60" and 98".
So What Are These Fabrics Good For?
Although these fabrics are used interchangeably for a lot of marine applications (especially for consistency through various canvas applications) there are definitely some recommended uses:
Sunbrella: Mainsail Covers, Dodgers, Biminis, Enclosure Panels, Awnings & Sun Fly applications
Stamoid Top: Biminis, Awning, Shade Sail (Not great for dodgers due to potential for condensation over the companionway).
WeatherMAX: Dodgers, Biminis, Sail Covers, Roller-furling covers (could also use WeatherMAX LT), Enclosure Panels, Sun Fly
Coastguard: Biminis, Sail Covers, Roller-furling covers, Hatch Covers, Enclosure Panels
Recacril: Sail Covers, Roller-furling covers, Hatch Covers, Enclosure Panels
Tell Us About Your Experience!
If you have had good, bad, or cautionary experiences with these fabrics or other fabrics that are used in marine canvas applications please let us know in the comments, we would love to hear about it!