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Fabrics & Thread

Fabric Types

We can build your cover in any type of fabric that's available to us or - if you prefer - we'll work with a material that you provide.

Fabric samples
Fabric sample swatchesZoom

Among the fabrics we offer are:

  • Traditional Cotton Duck Canvas
  • Polyester/Cotton canvas
  • Acrylic Canvas
  • Top Gun Cover Fabric
  • Odyssey Cover Fabric
  • Odyssey Softouch Fabric
  • Sunbrella Cover Fabric
  • Sunbrella Firesist Fabric
  • PVC Matt finish Cover Fabric
  • PVC Cape Grain Cover Fabric
  • PVC Window Material clear
  • PVC Window Material smoked

Needless to say, this list is far from exhaustive, new fabrics are being added all the time. Most of these materials are available in a variety of weights or thicknesses. We will of course be pleased to advise on a suitable material for your particular application.

Here are a few points which may help you to decide which particular material is best for your application.

Cover materials need to have certain characteristics in order to fulfil their function, but, so far as we are aware, no one material has them all. Some of these are:

  • Water resistance
  • Rot resistance
  • Breathability
  • Colour stability
  • Ultra-Violet resistance
  • Dimensional stability
  • Softness

For each application, these features have to be prioritised, having regard to the following observations, which are based on our experience.

Material stock
Material stock rollsZoom

A material which is totally water resistant, i.e. waterproof, is not going to be breathable, so condensation may form beneath it unless through ventilation is provided. PVC, for example, is waterproof, but will not breathe; on the other hand, cotton duck canvas is water resistant so if a quantity of water collects a drip may find its way through, but breathes very well and can enclose a boat, for example, with little risk of condensation.

Fabrics containing cotton tend to shrink when they become wet; this effect is reduced with a cotton/polyester mix. So for a cover over a truck or boat, for example, this can work in our favour, tightening the fabric when this is needed. But it then needs to be held down with rope or elastics, so that there is some 'give' in the fastening. A canopy or tonneau cover built in cotton canvas and held down by fittings such as press studs would become too tight when wet. Acrylics or PVCs therefore are the materials of choice in this case.

Softness can apply to the feel and handling of a cover material, or to its effect where it rubs on the article covered. Cotton based fabrics tend not to abrade gelcoat or varnish with mild rubbing, but - rarely - an acrylic may be slightly harsher and can mark a glossy finish if allowed to rub. This can, however, be cancelled out by the better dimensional stability of acrylics over canvas. A special example is Odyssey Softouch, a lightweight material which has a soft, furry backing to give worry-free protection.

Cotton, a natural material, can be affected by rot but cover fabrics are treated against this during manufacture; cotton, though, is very resistant to the effects of ulta-violet light. Conversely, man-made materials are highly resistant to rot, and are treated to resist ultra-violet light.

Material stock
Material stock rollsZoom

The pigment used to give colour to cotton-based fabrics is, in the main, applied with the proofing. This means that some colour leaches out during use resulting in fading over time. Other materials, however, are dyed during manufacture and have greatly increased colour stability, even in strong sunlight.

Is there a conclusion to be reached? Only that no one material is best for all purposes. Common practice over many years is usually a good guide as to what works best - so a tilt over a military truck is best in heavy cotton canvas because it's supple, easy to roll up and flaps less at speed. A boat's canopy, with windows, metal fasteners, zips and so on, needs to be dimensionally stable, light in weight and be able to look smart for several years, so acrylic canvas, available in a wide range of colours, is normally chosen here. For a winter cover, where appearance is less important but breathability is paramount, we would recommend either cotton or cotton/polyester canvas.

Our experience over many years of using and designing covers in the marine and other fields will help us to suggest the most appropriate material for your purpose.

Some of the cover fabrics listed above are also available with a fire retardant finish. This is for special applications and we would be pleased to advise if required.

Sewing Threads

No matter what fabric is used for a cover, its component parts have to be assembled together somehow. From experience, we consider the best method to be sewing. Over the years we have watched sewing threads develop so as to perform their role in the best way.

Also over the years we've taken the opportunity to observe defects on older covers and canopies while carrying out repairs, and one of the major lessons learned from this is that, in many cases, either inappropriate threads have been used or at best the thread has proved to have a shorter life than the fabric.

As a result we've always taken great care to employ the very best threads available in our own work, while also using a thicker grade than is common, so as to offer the maximum thread life.

Tenara® Sewing Thread with 15 year guarantee

Tenara thread
Tenara threadZoom

In 2010 a new thread became available to us, offering a radical departure from traditional technology. Manufactured by W.L. Gore & Associates, Tenara® Sewing Thread was presented to us as an answer to the earlier problems encountered - primarily degradation by ultra violet light from long term exposure to the sun. Much more information can be found at www.gore.com/tenara.

Tenara thread
Tenara threadZoom

Tenara is a monofilament, rather than twisted construction, thread made from ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene) and, importantly, carries a guarantee from its manufacturer that it will last for 15 years - which is, realistically, more than the life of most fabrics when subjected to continuous exposure.

After carrying out our own informal tests for strength and 'sewability', which Tenara passed with flying colours, we decided to make this thread available to our customers. We're therefore proud to offer it at a small extra cost on any of our covers with, of course, the benefit of the manufacturers' 15-year guarantee.