Boat enclosures like bimini tops, windows, and awnings come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Choosing the right one can be tricky and that’s why educating yourself before making a purchase is important; after all, you don’t want to buy the wrong textile for your project.
So, what are the different types of boat enclosure materials? Basically, there are three main types: vinyl, polycarbonate (rigid glass), and acrylic. The differences in these three options vary; here’s a quick run-down on each one:
- Vinyl: This is a great choice for many boat owners because of its breathability, suppleness, and recent advances in technology like Strataglass’ scratch resistance and UV ray resistant coatings. This material is a clear plastic and is soft and flexible, so it can be rolled up when not in use. Vinyl also has excellent stability and durability, and is inherently fire retardant, waterproof, and mildew resistant.
- Polycarbonate (Rigid Glass): This is also a clear plastic, but it’s semi-rigid — making it a hard glass that’s nearly unbreakable. The material can also be coated with uv ray resistant technology, and is also waterproof. However, it can’t be rolled up like vinyl and it can cost more to replace when damaged.
- Acrylic: Another semi-rigid option that is inherently UV ray resistant. It’s clear and strong, however it’s not as scratch resistant as others. It’s also not flexible enough to be rolled up. Acrylic can often cost less up-front, but will need to be replaced much more frequently.
The three different types of boat enclosure materials presented above all have pros and cons. If you’re looking for a flexible enclosure that you can roll up but still be stable when deployed, vinyl is perfect. However, if you want a rigid-material that won’t ever be removed then polycarbonate might be a better fit for your enclosure.
Really, the choice is up to you. But remember that when choosing a boat enclosure material you also have to consider what environment you’re in: Are you on a lake or do you boat out on the sea? Are your boating conditions typically rough or calm? There are many factors that go into choosing the right material that involve more than just cost and style. When in doubt, always consult a professional.