Boat Cover Materials
The first detail to check out with any boat cover is what it’s made of. Boat covers are made of a variety of materials including polyester, acrylic, nylon, and cotton-poly blends – each of which has its pros and cons.
Polyester is considered an excellent choice for boat cover construction, thanks to its abrasion, UV, and water resistance; good breathability; long useable lifespan; and reasonable cost. This is the most commonly used cover material and you’ll notice that most boat covers (including our SharkSkin® line) are made of polyester.
The only boat cover material generally considered to be superior to polyester is acrylic. Our premium Sunbrella canvas is made of acrylic and is the accepted gold standard of boat cover materials. Acrylic material is known for its breathability and fade resistance. But — no surprise here — it’s also one of the most expensive.
Nylon and Blends
As you shop around, you’ll also see cotton-poly blends and nylon covers on the market. But these can’t be expected to last long because they have poor UV- resistance and are extremely lightweight. The best boat covers will not be made of these materials. You should be a bit skeptical when it isn’t stated clearly up-front whether the cover is made from polyester, acrylic, nylon, or a blend. And when you see a shipping weight of 3.5 pounds for a cover intended to fit a 19-foot boat, that’s a pretty big clue that you’re not purchasing a quality boat cover
Another telltale detail that will help you determine quality again relates to the fabric’s weight. Google “cheap boat cover” and you’ll find plenty of options, even some made of polyester, that cost significantly less than a Westland cover. While these may seem like attractive offers, you’ll see that these are made with “3.0-ounce” or “4.0-ounce” cloth, meaning that the material they’re using weighs three or four ounces per square yard (as opposed to the 6.5-, 7.5-, and 9.25-ounce materials we use). You may also notice that many of these covers come with one-year warranties, as opposed to the five-, seven-, and 10-year warranties that protect Westland’s boat covers. The bottom line? When it comes to ruggedness and longevity, the higher that ounce figure is, the better protected your boat will be. And while it’s true that lighter covers may be easier to handle and stow, you won’t enjoy that advantage for very long — because a lightweight cover simply won’t last.
Terms like “solution dyed” and “pigment coated” will also offer insight into a boat cover’s quality. Solution dyed fibers are superior and highly preferred as this means the fibers are dyed before being woven into cloth. This method allows the color to go all the way through the material and increases its resistance to fading and UV degradation. Pigment coated materials, on the other hand, receive color after the cloth is woven, meaning that the color is only surface level and does not fully penetrate the fibers.
Pro Tip: Lighter color boat covers often last longer than darker colored ones, since the the lighter colors reflect the sun which increases their UV resistance.
Some polyesters are also coated with acrylic, urethane, and occasionally vinyl to enhance their UV, water, and abrasion resistance. All Westland polyester is coated. These are usually a step up from untreated polyester, but in some cases, they can cut down on a cover’s ability to breathe.
As you shop around you’ll also see cotton-poly blends and nylon covers on the market. But these can’t be expected to last long because they have poor UV resistance and are extremely lightweight. The best boat covers will not be made of these materials, and some manufacturers will try to cover up the true nature of their covers by giving the material a fancy name dreamed up by their marketing department. You should be a bit skeptical when it isn’t stated clearly up-front whether the cover is made from polyester, acrylic, nylon, or a blend. And when you see a shipping weight of 3.5 pounds for a cover intended to fit a 19-foot boat, well, that’s a pretty big clue.