DIY vs. Professional Boat Canvas Repair

Docked boat with canvas cover on top

Boat canvas or marine canvas refers to any materials used to manufacture awnings, covers, tarps, sunshades, signs and banners on boats of all sizes. Most boat companies and owners prefer canvas because of its high performance and resilience in coastal climates. When you take your boat out, you depend on your canvas covering to deliver exceptional results every time.

However, the canvas can tear or crack, making it necessary to perform repairs or maintenance on occasion. When the time comes to repair your canvas, should you attempt a DIY job or leave it up to a professional? The answer depends on the job, the condition of the canvas and your experience with boat canvas repair. Let’s look at DIY vs. professional boat canvas repair and compare the pros and cons of each.

DIY Boat Canvas Repair 

If you are adventurous, motivated and don’t mind putting in the time to make repairs on your boat, you may want to opt for a DIY boat canvas repair. The obvious benefit is that you save money on labor costs. Plus, you feel the pride of a job well done, as well as learning or a new skill that you can invest in your boat. Which DIY boat canvas repair jobs can you do yourself? 

Cleaning the Vinyl Cover 

Clean the boat canvas by hand with warm soap and water or a commercial canvas cleaner. You can also put it in your washing machine with a small amount of laundry detergent and clean it on the gentle cycle. Hang out the cover to dry.

Seam Repair 

You can repair split seams on your canvas. However, you need a sewing machine that can handle a tough canvas seam. Use a high-grade, pro sewing machine with UV-resistant thread. Use the biggest gauge your sewing machine can handle. The best seam is a flat felt stitch that hides the stitches from the sun.

Canvas Cover Protection 

To protect the boat canvas cover, use a canvas fabric guard. Wait about a week and apply waterproofing protection to improve the cover’s water resistance capabilities. When you’re storing canvas for the winter, make sure it’s dry. A wet cover will cause mildew growth.

Replacing a Bungee 

One of the easiest jobs is to replace a bungee. After about three years, a bungee may stretch or break due to weather exposure. To remove the broken bungee, pry off the backing piece with a screwdriver. To replace, position the canvas between the two halves and press the barbed male side into the female side. It’s that simple. 

Professional Boat Canvas Repair 

The upside to professional boat canvas repair is that you have peace of mind knowing that the job is done right. Some boat repair professionals may offer a labor warranty in addition to a manufacturer warranty, guaranteeing their work. While some jobs give you a DIY option, others need to be performed by a skilled professional.  

Clear Vinyl/Canvas Split 

A short split-seam repair is more challenging to perform than an all-fabric seam repair. It is more difficult to stitch the vinyl because it is thicker. Therefore, you should leave the job to a pro. It takes a stronger machine and more skill to punch through the thicker vinyl of the windows.

Replace Fasteners 

Two types of fasteners – common sense and lift-the-dot – are high-tech components that require more than a conventional stud or a female combination. While a DIY job is possible, the pliers you need to complete the job cost $300, making the job far less cost-effective. You can hire a professional to complete the job quickly and affordably.

Clear Vinyl Replacement 

Clear vinyl becomes foggy or brown over time. A professional can sew new clear vinyl panels onto the existing canvas, saving you money in the long run. Plus, repair requires an industrial strength sewing machine to punch through the canvas and the two layers of vinyl. With the new vinyl in place, you will have a clearer vision. However, a full professional replacement would cost 70 percent less than repairing the old clear vinyl.

Zipper Replacement 

Once a zipper separates behind the slider, you can’t repair it. The only option you have is a professional zipper repair or replacement. The plastic teeth on the zipper are shaped like a mushroom that expands to hold the seam closed. As the plastic teeth degrade, they lose their grip, and the zipper needs to be replaced. You can’t replace the zipper yourself unless you have an industrial-strength sewing machine to penetrate a material such as Sunbrella and the zipper with the appropriate UV-resistant thread.

Schedule Professional Boat Canvas Repair in Pensacola, Florida 

Pensacola Shipyard has the facilities and crew you need to make all essential boat repairs. We offer comprehensive boat canvas repair in Pensacola, Florida. We also offer maintenance for all types of boats. 

Contact us today at 850.780.8441 to schedule boat maintenance services.