Sunbrella offers several great lines of marine fabrics, most of which come in standard, solid colors. We love these products and their color line, but when so many fabrics look alike it can be hard to know if you’ve ordered the best one for your application. Each of Sunbrella’s lines has its own unique properties that make it perfectly suited to different projects. We’re going to break down the differences between all these marine solids, so you can rest assured you’re making the best choice for your next project.
Sunbrella Marine Grade
Sunbrella Marine Grade is the standard cover cloth of the marine industry. Like all Sunbrella fabrics, it is a 100% solution-dyed acrylic fabric and is soft, breathable and UV, water, and mildew resistant. Sunbrella Marine Grade will not noticeably shrink or stretch and both sides of this fabric are the same, so either side can face out. Sunbrella Marine Grade is suitable for use in awnings, dodgers, biminis, sun bands, boat tops, sail covers, outdoor covers, outdoor furniture, cockpit cushions and enclosure curtains. Marine Grade fabrics are 46” wide, but select colors also come in 60” width. These fabrics are exactly the same, just wider.
Sunbrella Plus features all the same properties as Sunbrella Marine Grade fabric but with an additional urethane coating on one side of the fabric. This coating gives Sunbrella Plus fabrics more moisture and abrasion resistance than regular Marine Grade. Sunbrella Plus fabric should be used with the urethane-coated side facing down. As the coating does reduce the breathability a bit, this fabric is most suitable for awnings, dodgers, biminis, boat tops, and enclosure curtains but not cover applications unless vented.
Sunbrella Supreme features an acrylic flocking adhered to the back of regular Sunbrella Marine Grade fabric with a urethane adhesive. This bonding process makes the fabric almost completely waterproof. The flocking is short cut fibers that create a soft surface that won’t scratch varnish, paint, gel coat and plastic. Use Sunbrella Supreme in applications where the canvas lays against delicate surfaces and for dodgers, biminis, and enclosures. Some Supreme fabrics have a dark top but lighter flocking, which is great if you want all your boat canvas to match but also want to brighten up the interior of your cockpit. Sunbrella Supreme should be used with the flocking side facing in.
Sunbrella Clarity is very different from the other three, in that it was specially engineered for awnings, not necessarily for marine applications. Clarity features a durable polyurethane undercoating for excellent water resistance and a special finish on the top that uses sunlight and rain to remove organic contaminants and stains (like roof-run off) from the fabric. How this works is that when sunlight hits the awning the properties in the fabric are triggered to cause organic materials like oil, mold, mildew, grime and VOCs to decompose. Then the rain washes these materials away. Unlike other Sunbrella fabrics, water doesn’t bead up on Clarity, rather it wets out, which is part of the cleaning process. This technology makes Clarity the perfect choice for hard to reach awning applications, as it’s mostly self-cleaning. We recommend Clarity for commercial and residential awnings, canopies, market umbrellas, and other hard-to-reach shade structures as well as marine tops and boat awnings. Clarity should be used with the smooth, soft, uncoated side facing up (exposed to the outside).
Sunbrella has a lot of great acrylic fabrics to offer and hopefully now the choice between them will be a little less daunting.
See the full line of all Sunbrella Marine Grade & other exterior fabrics at Sailrite.com.
Have you used any of Sunbrella’s specialty fabrics like Plus, Supreme or Clarity on your projects? What do you think of them? Share your experiences and opinions with us in the comments section below.