It's "Maintenance Monday", and today we're discussing how to maintain the waterproof attributes of your boat's canvas surfaces.
Acrylic canvas, like yesteryear's cotton canvas, is a tight-weave fabric. It is initially waterproof, yet breathes; it stands up to ultraviolet radiation (sun exposure) better than any other fabric; it snubs mildew; it resists staining; it is colorfast and comes in every color imaginable; and it looks great. Not surprisingly, acrylic canvas--Sunbrella being the best known--is the most popular marine fabric by a wide margin.
Acrylic canvas does have one negative characteristic, other than high cost. It gets its water repellency from a chemical treatment, not from swelling fibers, and eventually that treatment loses some of its effectiveness. Generally speaking, acrylic canvas in continuous use may start to leak after about three years. Scrubbing or the use of detergents to clean the canvas may hasten the failure of the coating. Fortunately, reproofing the canvas can be done.
The Right Treatment:
Do not use a waterproofing treatment that contains silicone on acrylic canvas. This is important. Silicone is incompatible with the original treatment. The factory waterproofing chemical, which is a fluorocarbon, will repel the silicone, resulting in patchy coverage. The silicone is also likely to compromise the stain-resistance of the fabric.
The best treatment for acrylic canvas is a fluoropolymer-based product. This type of treatment is compatible with the original finish, and it gives excellent and long-lasting results.
Since you are going to be renewing the waterproofing anyway, now is the time to give the canvas a good cleaning. Hose the fabric and, if needed, scrub it with a soft brush and a mild detergent, such as Ivory Soap. Stubborn stains can be treated by soaking for 15 minutes in gallon of warm water containing 1/4 cup of Ivory and 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach. Do not use hot water. Do not use a harsh detergent. Do not machine wash the canvas. And never, ever, put acrylic canvas in a dryer.
Rinse the canvas well and let it air dry completely before continuing.
Spray It On:
The application instructions for the particular product you choose will be on the container, but most call for spraying on two light coats, the second applied perpendicular to the first. This "plaid" pattern tends to yield more uniform coverage.
Let the treatment dry completely before reinstalling the canvas. Again, the container will provide the drying time. After drying, the treated canvas should once again be completely waterproof. The treatment does not affect the fabric's other qualities, including breathability.
How often you will need to reapply a waterproofing product to acrylic canvas depends on the kind of use the fabric gets, but even in harsh conditions, the treatment should be effective for at least a year.
If you'd like us to tackle a maintenance project on your vessel's canvas, give us a call today at#MarinerServicesInc. at (239)776-4253 for a free quote!