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Faded Sunbrella (or equivalent) Boat Canvas

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
My very expensive dodger, bimini, and sail cover are badly faded. Assuming it's Subrella (no label or maker's label, unfortunately), the color is "Toast," or "Sand."

I can get a few more years out of it, but I was wishing there was some kind of color-restoring dye or other klind of spray I could apply to bring it back to looking the right color.

I came upon fabric and vinyl paint from both Rustoleum and Dupli-color. One Amazon review of Rustoleum said it was too thick, and Dupli-color was better for fabric.

I was wondering - has anyone tried either of these on boat canvas?

Thanks,

jv
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,779
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
This is a million dollar question!! Unfortunately once a fabric has lost it's color, not much can be done based on my experience. There are a variety of marine fabrics on the market. Vinyl-coated polyester and vinyl-coated acrylic are two examples. Some are heavier than others. Some are more colorfast and UV-resistant than others. Sunbrella’s solution-dyed acrylic fabric is shrink-resistant, colorfast, i.e., holds it color the best, and UV-resistant.
 
Last edited:
Sep 25, 2008
6,315
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
Sunbrella color seems to last forever here. I’m surprised it would fade in the New England climate. Might be something else. As to restoration, I’d ask your local canvas or sailmaker.
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,884
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
The only options are to clean the fabric with mild soap & water, let it dry thoroughly, and spray it with 303 fabric guard or replace with new fabric. I am afraid that attempting to coat it with a paint or vinyl application is going to ruin it to the extent that it will definitely need replacement.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
The only options are to clean the fabric with mild soap & water, let it dry thoroughly, and spray it with 303 fabric guard or replace with new fabric. I am afraid that attempting to coat it with a paint or vinyl application is going to ruin it to the extent that it will definitely need replacement.
Do you have personal experience with this, or are you speculating? I mean, look at the reviews for these products on Amazon, and see pics of restored umbrellas, cloth patio chair cushions, etc.
 
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Jun 21, 2004
1,884
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
Do you have personal experience with this, or are you speculating?
I do have experience with 303 protectant. Ideally, you should apply it annually to protect the fabric and color as well as to waterproof. It is the one and only product that Sunbrella / Glenn Raven Mills recommends for their products.
It will not restore the color, once it has faded. Before you try fabric vinyl & paint, I would talk to someone from Sunbrella or sailrite, who has lots of experience dealing with these fabrics.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
I do have experience with 303 protectant. Ideally, you should apply it annually to protect the fabric and color as well as to waterproof. It is the one and only product that Sunbrella / Glenn Raven Mills recommends for their products.
It will not restore the color, once it has faded. Before you try fabric vinyl & paint, I would talk to someone from Sunbrella or sailrite, who has lots of experience dealing with these fabrics.
That's great, but I can't go back in time and apply 303 to the canvas! I use 303 on my new RIB, but the canvas was faded when I got it. What will talking to Sunbrella do to restore the color? Nothing.

I know full well that new things can be preserved, and I endeavor to do so. But I'm looking for a solution to this poor looking faded canvas.
 
Jul 26, 2009
258
. . .
No personal experience, but having recently purchased all new canvas I can appreciate your desire to extend it's life. As you point out, we don't know the exact nature of the material, so any direct experience someone could share about Sunbrella may or may not be relevant.

The conspiracist in me thinks that if such a product were ever invented, Sunbrella would have purchased the IP and tucked it away in a drawer to never be found again...

As a public service, you could give it a shot in an inconspicuous location and report back. Do you have a connector panel or side skirt for the dodger that you could test first to measure it's efficacy? Perhaps spray the inside of a panel first? Uncertain which product(s) your looking at, but another consideration would be the compatibility with waterproofing agents like 303. Perhaps you've found an all in one dye/waterproof formulation which would preclude the use of a waterproofing agent.

It's certainly been asked before but the answers echo the responses here so far and/or are based in conjecture. Another approach may be to research it through some of the furniture, craft or seamstress forums (see Rit Dye below). The challenge there is any result is unlikely to be exposed to the same weathering conditions post treatment.

Faded bimini?
Sunbrella Restoration
Color Brightening of Sunbrella Fabric
How to dye sunbrella fabric
Rit DyeMore Synthetic Fiber Dye Product Guide
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
No personal experience, but having recently purchased all new canvas I can appreciate your desire to extend it's life. As you point out, we don't know the exact nature of the material, so any direct experience someone could share about Sunbrella may or may not be relevant.

The conspiracist in me thinks that if such a product were ever invented, Sunbrella would have purchased the IP and tucked it away in a drawer to never be found again...

As a public service, you could give it a shot in an inconspicuous location and report back. Do you have a connector panel or side skirt for the dodger that you could test first to measure it's efficacy? Perhaps spray the inside of a panel first? Uncertain which product(s) your looking at, but another consideration would be the compatibility with waterproofing agents like 303. Perhaps you've found an all in one dye/waterproof formulation which would preclude the use of a waterproofing agent.

It's certainly been asked before but the answers echo the responses here so far and/or are based in conjecture. Another approach may be to research it through some of the furniture, craft or seamstress forums (see Rit Dye below). The challenge there is any result is unlikely to be exposed to the same weathering conditions post treatment.

Faded bimini?
Sunbrella Restoration
Color Brightening of Sunbrella Fabric
How to dye sunbrella fabric
Rit DyeMore Synthetic Fiber Dye Product Guide
Wow, great reply, helpful, and with links to other resources! I'm blown away. Thank you.

jv
 
Jan 19, 2010
10,003
Hunter 26 Charleston
No personal experience, but having recently purchased all new canvas I can appreciate your desire to extend it's life. As you point out, we don't know the exact nature of the material, so any direct experience someone could share about Sunbrella may or may not be relevant.

The conspiracist in me thinks that if such a product were ever invented, Sunbrella would have purchased the IP and tucked it away in a drawer to never be found again...

As a public service, you could give it a shot in an inconspicuous location and report back. Do you have a connector panel or side skirt for the dodger that you could test first to measure it's efficacy? Perhaps spray the inside of a panel first? Uncertain which product(s) your looking at, but another consideration would be the compatibility with waterproofing agents like 303. Perhaps you've found an all in one dye/waterproof formulation which would preclude the use of a waterproofing agent.

It's certainly been asked before but the answers echo the responses here so far and/or are based in conjecture. Another approach may be to research it through some of the furniture, craft or seamstress forums (see Rit Dye below). The challenge there is any result is unlikely to be exposed to the same weathering conditions post treatment.

Faded bimini?
Sunbrella Restoration
Color Brightening of Sunbrella Fabric
How to dye sunbrella fabric
Rit DyeMore Synthetic Fiber Dye Product Guide
Well I don't have any first hand experience with dying a dodger but I have dyed a navy blue sail cover once. I had so-so results. I used RIT dye. I first washed the fabric with a strong detergent and then rinced it very well. I had a few spots where the dye did not take as well and I think I still had some oils embedded in the fabric but overall it looked better after.

I took the sailcover and put it in a bushel sized tub and filled it with hot water and then added three bottles of rit dye and then put the sailcover in the tub. Pushed it around with a broom handle. I let it soak for three days and then laid it out on a saw horse to dry. Rinced it in the washing maching on cold it looked better than it did before.

I've also used RIT dye on a few black dress shirts with very good results. I think the difference there was I was able to get the shirt very clean first so the dye could take uniformly.

There are a lot of colors to choose from.... I guess I would take the position of... If I'm ready to replace it anyway, I might as well try this first and see if I like the results. But be ready in your mind to replace if it comes out bad...

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Jun 21, 2004
1,884
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
That's great, but What will talking to Sunbrella do to restore the color? Nothing.
The idea is to determine if Sunbrella has any suggestions to extend the life & renew the color of your canvas before you try some product that ruins it completely.
 
Sep 24, 2018
1,475
O'Day 25 Chicago
Well I don't have any first hand experience with dying a dodger but I have dyed a navy blue sail cover once. I had so-so results. I used RIT dye. I first washed the fabric with a strong detergent and then rinced it very well. I had a few spots where the dye did not take as well and I think I still had some oils embedded in the fabric but overall it looked better after.

I took the sailcover and put it in a bushel sized tub and filled it with hot water and then added three bottles of rit dye and then put the sailcover in the tub. Pushed it around with a broom handle. I let it soak for three days and then laid it out on a saw horse to dry. Rinced it in the washing maching on cold it looked better than it did before.

I've also used RIT dye on a few black dress shirts with very good results. I think the difference there was I was able to get the shirt very clean first so the dye could take uniformly.

There are a lot of colors to choose from.... I guess I would take the position of... If I'm ready to replace it anyway, I might as well try this first and see if I like the results. But be ready in your mind to replace if it comes out bad...

View attachment 198342
RIT dye fades rather quickly. My mother was into professional tie dying when I was a kid. The pro grade dies faded a little bit after the first wash but held up after that
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Thanks for all the replies. I will probably just leave it, and look into having my canvas guy duplicate the existing parts, dodger and bimini. The sail cover I'll wait 'til I get the new mainsail, so I know it will fit properly; the current one is too baggy.

When I get new canvas I'm going to make covers for that! I've seen them, a simple, fitted, sacrificial cover for the dodger, at least. The dodger is the most complicated and expensive part.

(I have 5 yd x 60" of Sunbrella in "toast," plus a big spool of Sunbrella thread, and a walking foot sewing machine.)
 
Last edited:
May 17, 2004
3,475
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
The sail cover I'll wait 'til I get the new mainsail, so I know it will fit properly; the current one is too baggy.
You’ll probably find that a new main will be so much crisper and harder to fold that the baggy cover is the right size again. But as you said waiting to get the right size is a good idea.