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Marine canvas refers to a varied array of materials and substrates used in the fabrication and production of awnings, covers, tarps, sunshades, signs and banners for the advertising, boating, trucking, tenting, structural and medical industries.
Marine canvas is a catch–all phrase that covers hundreds of materials, for instance: acrylics, PVC coated polyester vinyls, silicone treated substrates and many coated meshes suitable for outdoor use. Most ¨marine canvas¨ materials offer UV and UVB resistance, and, to some extent, water resistance or waterproofness. One of the most popular fabrics used today is solution dyed acrylic such as Sunbrella. Such synthetic fabrics last for many years before deteriorating due to harsh UV rays. UV damages varnish (causes degradation, loss of color and elasticity and finally cracking and peeling) and the materials of which sails are made (often Dacron today). To avoid constant boat repair, covers are fabricated for all sails that are left outside, and all brightwork, or highly varnished wood. Hatches are covered for interior sun protection and winches are covered to protect them from deterioration of airborne particles and rain.
Other marine canvas includes biminis and dodgers and similar enclosures that protect some part or section of a boat from the weather and/or to create a more comfortable environment for the boat owner.
In some instances, these covers are purely created to add to the aesthetics of the motor or sail boat.
The design of these covers requires the fabricator to either pattern the object being covered, by creating templates out of disposable paper or plastic that are laid directly onto the area or object, or by laying the fabric to be used directly onto the object and fitting it. Marks for seams, fasteners and chafe protection are then applied to the pattern, and then transferred to the fabric, or directly onto the fabric.
Many American marine canvas fabricators use an Acrylic fabric as well as those listed above. The lighter color materials reflect heat and sunlight and provides more cooling as any darker materials does the opposite and will produce a hotter environment but a darker shade.
The thread used to stitch marine type canvas has often been Polyester thread with sizes ranging from #69, #92, #138 but with the popularity of PTFE threads that offer protection from the effects of UV, acids and many chemicals, Polyester thread is becoming more of a standby due to the far greater resistance of PTFE to ultraviolet radiation and the cost effectiveness of PTFE to the final product. Nylon is never used as it usually doesn't last longer than six months in direct sunlight. Polyester threads V138 can last many years in the northern portions of the United States and of course all of Canada.