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Old 08-01-2013, 20:21   #1
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Sunbrella vs WeatherMax?

Anyone done a real life comparison (purchased both historically an have feedback ?).

I'm sticking with good ole Sunbrella, but it ain't cheap! WeaterMax looks like 30-40% cheaper but is newer and has less sailboat use cases to compare to.

Anyone have any insight?
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Old 08-01-2013, 20:27   #2
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Re: Sunbrella vs WeatherMax?

I'm awaiting a good response. Need to canvas this year and the price of WeatherMax is attractive.
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Old 08-01-2013, 21:53   #3
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If you are in a high heat area IE: tropics go with sunbrela the other stuff does not last. Learned from expearance.
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Old 08-01-2013, 22:42   #4
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Re: Sunbrella vs WeatherMax?

Hi, guys,

I do most of my own canvas work. I have Sunbrella weather cloths, a stamoid hatch dodger (to keep rain out while letting air in), and a Weather Max awning. Been cruising 25 yrs. In my experience the plain old blue Sunbrella lasts the longest of anything so far. (The stamoid is only about 5 yrs. old, half its advertised life span, doing fine so far, but stamoid requires careful handling, not the easiest to work with. It is lighter than Sunbrella.) The Weather Max in my opinion is easier to work with (because I candle sunbrella, or cut it with a hot knife). My dark red Sunbrella is rather faded after 9-1/2 years. And of course Sunbrella has little chafe resistance, so requires chafe patches in a lot of places, some of them, hidden. The awning, which doubles as a raincatcher, hasn't been used much yet, though it's about 5 yrs. old, has been used as far north as 14 deg. 40 min. S. lat., so lots of UV exposure, but, as it zips in and out of the dodger, is not in constant service. The fabric is easy for my old Pfaff home sewing machine to handle, does not require a hot knife, weighs about half what Sunbrella weighs, has good chafe resistance, but only guaranteed 5 years. So far, I'm happy with it. The chafe strip on our furling staysail is also WM, and it does not appear to be chafing.

When we get our mainsail bag replaced, I might give the Weather Max a go for it, because of the lower weight and chafe resistance. Yet the dark red dyes are so fade-prone, my concern is that the WM would fade even more than the Sunbrella did. However, when it's time again on the weather cloths (easier to make than our rather complicated boom bag), I plan to try out the WM for them. I like the "hand" of the fabric (how it feels to the touch),too. It has seemed to be good value. When I bought it, it was half the cost of Sunbrella and the other acrylic canvasses. I like having the projects from time to time, so if the WM gets horrid or loses its waterproofing in the next year or so, it's the work of one to two days to re-make it, it does not "feel" a risky experiment.

There are trade-offs with all the fabrics, simply put: price vs. longevity possibly the major consideration if someone is going to be hired to do the job.

By the way, do require the stitching be made of tedlar thread, or its equivalent. My boom bag's stitching is still as new--amazing, really. There is only one row of UV resistant stitching on my dodger, the rest is tedlar, and the UVR dacron row is shot, and already been hand-stitched. And now I can really see what a huge difference it makes.

Hope this helps.

Ann Cate, s/v Insatiable II
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Old 16-01-2013, 08:35   #5
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Re: Sunbrella vs WeatherMax?

Hey Hermanns,

As someone with a lot of experience I thought I would jump in and share my experiences:

- The cost of the materials is a very small part of the job even if you do the work yourself if you value your time.

- WeatherMAX is a great material to make canvas out of but be sure to go with the heavier weatherMAX (80, not LT) for something like a dodger or bimini.

- WeatherMAX does need to be hot-knifed if you are going to have exposed cut edges (non selvage/factory edges)

- PTFE (the generic formula for teflon) thread is what you should use or insist upon (Tedlar is a film that is used to repair mylar sails and make air sampling bags, not a thread).

- Seamstick doesn't stick well to either Sunbrella or WeatherMAX but less-so to weatherMAX, pushpins on plywood is a good way to layout seams and then staple them in place for sewing.

- Dark Reds such as the Sunbrella burgundy actually last the very longest before fading just due to the sheer amount of dye that goes into making the yarns, pacific blue fades the quickest (that's the blue you see all over the place that's not navy).

- SolarFix PTFE is a great thread to sew with if you will be doing your own work and if you plan for the canvas to hold up longer than about three years it's worth the price. Other brands are Tenara by Gore, Solar Thread by Pennsylvania Thread Co., etc.


If you're going to be doing your own work I would be happy to provide you with some pointers as to how to get a good pattern and a proper fit for pieces like a bimini or dodger! Good luck with it, don't be afraid of the WeatherMAX but if you're unsure about it then go with Sunbrella, you'll never regret going with the industry-standard.

Hope that helps.
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Old 16-01-2013, 08:54   #6
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I have just received a sample of weathermax80 it seams to be a great fabric. Nice and light and breathable. Will be ordering soon to redo my canvas top and side panels
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Old 16-01-2013, 15:52   #7
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Thanks much WMarineCanvas - much appreciated

That's the type of feedback I was looking for - looks like Sunbrella Navy it is!

Will keep WeatherMax in mind for sail bags too, great idea.
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Old 17-01-2013, 07:04   #8
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Re: Sunbrella vs WeatherMax?

Quote:
Thanks much WMarineCanvas - much appreciated

That's the type of feedback I was looking for - looks like Sunbrella Navy it is!

Will keep WeatherMax in mind for sail bags too, great idea.
Not a problem, glad I could be of assistance.
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Old 17-01-2013, 08:10   #9
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Re: Sunbrella vs WeatherMax?

I had not been aware that Sunbrella upped their warranty to 10 years. My last purchase was when it was still 5 years.

Has Sunbrella improved that much since 2007?
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Old 17-01-2013, 08:19   #10
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Re: Sunbrella vs WeatherMax?

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I had not been aware that Sunbrella upped their warranty to 10 years. My last purchase was when it was still 5 years.

Has Sunbrella improved that much since 2007?
Yep, Glen Raven upped the warranty to 10 years for installations completed after 2008.

Honestly I can't say for sure whether or not the product has changed although I somehow doubt it. I would imagine that the the thing that changed could be the consistency with which they were able to produce the acrylic yarns as well as the woven fabric itself. Also, I would imagine that some long-term tests had been done to compare and contrast the risk/reward ratio of providing a longer-term warranty.

From personal experience I can tell you that if Sunbrella doesn't last in a particular application the only reason for that would either be improper construction which allowed for poor fit (essentially abusing the fabric by flapping or pooling water) or a poor choice of application (Sunbrella is a great fabric for a lot of things but it's not the only choice to consider on a boat).
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Old 17-01-2013, 08:46   #11
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Re: Sunbrella vs WeatherMax?

my linen sunbrella sailcover is really faded and wearing thin at 7 or 8 years. no way would it make it to 10.
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Old 17-01-2013, 08:58   #12
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Re: Sunbrella vs WeatherMax?

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my linen sunbrella sailcover is really faded and wearing thin at 7 or 8 years. no way would it make it to 10.
Good point, I assume that you are leaving the sailcover on year-round instead of removing the sail and cover in the off-season? I know of biminis that are 18 years old and have had only minor repairs but they get removed during the winter.

I don't know how Sunbrella's warranty would work in three or four years on a sailcover that was installed in 2008, unfortunately yours was built a few years before that. Also, I know that there are uses, as I mentioned, which Sunbrella will not warranty just due to the abuse that the fabric takes. For example, a Sunbrella UV cover on a roller-furling sail is not covered under the Sunbrella warranty at all once the Sunbrella is installed on a sail. Can't say that I blame them for that one, especially with all of the UV covers I see sitting exposed all winter and then being taken out for a flogging in the breeze a few times each year
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