There are a lot of variables to consider other than just price when selecting the right canvas shop to work on your boat. The methods and materials used very greatly from shop to shop, and those choices not only affect the price you will pay, but also how long it will be before you will have problems or need replacement or repairs.
One midweek day early last summer Barbara and I walked a few marinas and looked at the various canvas jobs and enclosures on the boats. We saw a few factory jobs on newer boats, but most of the boats in the Clayton NY area are older and had replacement tops and windows done by various canvas shops.
The diversity of the manufacturing methods and the materials used was shocking, and while they looked ok from 50 feet away, the low budget jobs stood out in the crowd upon closer inspection.
What we saw was that many were made using the cheapest possible materials and methods for fast production and a low manufacturing cost. The end result is canvas that will need to be repaired or replaced well before its recommended lifespan, which in the thousand islands area should be at least 10 years.
While most shops are using Sunbrella, there’s a lot more to a canvas project than just the fabric itself. One of the easiest short cuts to hide is simply by using the cheapest thread possible. The end result is canvas seams that rot in about 4 years and require major repairs. An 8oz spool of thread can vary in price from $30 to $200 depending on what is used. The higher quality threads are often harder to sew with and add time to the job, hence the reason a shortcut may be taken using cheaper materials.
Next is how the canvas was seamed and how it was cut. The right method is to use a hot knife to cut the fabric and melt the seam so it doesn’t fray and to double stitch a seam when two panels are joined together, which is how most tops are made.
Other considerations include what’s used for facing, which is the inside 1 ½ inches of fabric around the perimeter of canvas and vinyl windows. Was it custom cut or is it lapped over and sewed down around curves or pieced together using small scraps? Did they use actual facing made from fabric or did they use webbing? Did they reinforce the stress points?
Then of course there is the vinyl used in the windows. While many of the smaller boats do very well with the cheaper products that are easy to rollup in our climate, many boaters demand a crystal clear wrinkle free product and there are huge differences in those prices. If it wasn’t discussed when your job was quoted, you are probably getting the low end of the product line.
And lets not forget about framing, the base of your entire enclosure. The choices vary from those made with cheap aluminum using plastic fittings to stainless steel frames in a variety of thickness, grades and tube sizes.
So if you’re shopping for replacement canvas and are only focused on price and finding the cheapest shop, you will most likely get exactly what you paid for.
River Custom Canvas is committed to providing the highest quality manufacturing methods using only high quality materials that will last. We take the time to explain the differences in our manufacturing and give our customers several options to choose from when quoting a project, but we will always maintain a higher standard in the actual production methods. The end result is a beautiful finished project that will last for years with proper care and maintenance.
We are located in the heart of the 1000 islands in Clayton, NY. Our target markets are Clayton, cape Vincent, Alexandra Bay, Watertown, and the surrounding areas in Jefferson County.
written by David Huntington