Cover Care


Cover Care, Bimini Tops and Campers


tips to help your cover or top to last as long as possible



tip 1 - If you don't want to clean and re-treat your canvas, send it to

tip 2 - Use "Shoe Glue" for patches and to glue seams together.
please.. don't use Duck Tape on a boat cover. Duck tape has no purpose in any marine application that we have looked at. If you want to repair a cover yourself, use a needle and thread, you will do fine, just stitch it up. I will give you some good marine thread for free(cust pick-up and supply the empty spool).

What is so bad about Duck Tape? You can not get the sticky glue off the fabric without totally ruining the fabric.
Your only chance is to put it out in the HOT sun for as long as it takes to dry out the glue. Eventually, it will turn to white dust.
Typically, we have to put a patch that covers the duck taped area to cover up the glue left when tape is removed.

tip 3 - Never put a tarp or plastic over a cover for storage. You may need a temporary tarp if you are painting the house or some other project with the boat there. You may need a temporary tarp if the boat is parked under a tree dripping sap. The tarp or plastic does not breathe and traps moisture in the boat cover which will cause mildew to form. The tarp or plastic can leave scuff marks or wear holes in the boat cover from the wind moving the tarp. I see lots of canvas damaged or ruined from tarp's or plastic used on top of covers during the winter. If you want to use a tarp or plastic for storage, see tip 15 about winter storage using a tarp.

tip 4 - Winter weather for mooring covers * Please make sure poles are up high to hold the cover tight. * Tighten thumb screw on poles an extra 1/4 turn with pliers so they won't slip under the weight of the snow. * You must brush or drag the snow off the cover every time it snows. * Do not let the snow melt off, the temperature can drop before the snow melts and it will turn to a block of ice. I use my mooring covers every winter with no problems. I never put plastic or a tarp over my boat covers. You must brush or drag the snow off the cover every time we have a snow fall. see tip 17

tip 5 - Clean or wash your Acrylic cover or top. Periodically bush the dirt off the fabric. You can hang it up and beat it with a broom like an old carpet. If you have Compressed Air, you can use a blow gun to get the dirt off. works very well

Or Wash the cover with some mild soap and water (not detergent) and a brush. Dish soap works well or hair shampoo if you want it stronger. You can wash it on the boat, on the grass, or on Smooth Concrete. Rinse with plenty of water. Use pressure washers at less than 200 psi. pressure, or it can damage the fabric. If you have an extreme need for industrial cleaner, use biodegradable De-greaser, a plastic bristle brush and water. But you must rinse it 4 times, use a lot of water and do not let it dry until it is completely rinsed. Get it at the auto parts store.

I have run across a company that cleans covers by hand. You may want to check it out. You just fold it, put it in a box, send it UPS. will clean and treat the canvas for you. When is done, they will send it back UPS. Real Easy..

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tip 6 - your coated canvas cover needs washed too. Washing and Treating vinyl-coated canvas: Aqualon, DockSide, Seacover, Sport Topping, and others. Wash same as above with mild soapy water, but use a softer brush, if you have one. Use pressure washers at less than 200 lb. pressure, or it can damage the fabric.

tip 7 - re-treating your coated canvas cover helps it last. Your canvas has a 'vinyl surface' and so Marine Vinyl Treatment is used. A good one is 303 Aerospace Protectant, it also has sun screen. Use 1 paper towel, folded 2 times, fits your hand. Spray the protectant on the canvas or vinyl sparingly and rub it around with the paper towel. Just like putting sun tan oil on. Let it soak in to the cover and dry. That's it, done. Retreat every 6 to 8 weeks during the summer for best results.

tip 8 - re-treating your Acrylic cover or top helps it last. Retreat Sunbrella after washing, or every year for a long lasting cover or Bimini top. (all brands of acrylic, polyester, nylon, olefin, and cotton canvas) A 16oz spray bottle will do 2 coats on a 18 foot pontoon. A 32oz spray bottle will do 3 coats on a 24 foot pontoon cover. Be sure to let it dry 24 hours between coats. Use 303HTFG (high tech fabric guard) works best, or Star-brite Teflon treatment. Both keep stains and dirt from getting into the fabric while allowing it the breathe, like scotch guard. You can easily apply the treatment, it will make the water bead up and run off. Test your cover simply by throwing some water on it. If the water beads up, you are fine, if not, retreat it.

tip 9 - Applying 303 High Tech Fabric Guard to a cover or top. You must spray the treatment on a Hot Sunny, 80 degree day, with NO wind. The best time to do it in Ohio is in middle or late summer...the dog days of summer, when it's hot and NO WIND.

I have used 303HTFG on lots of covers, and you really need hot weather and no wind. You only need to treat the top side. Spray a light mist on the cover, like spraying a house plant. Please Note to open the nozzle just a very small amount to provide a FINE MIST. You can spray the cover while it's on the boat, or lay it out on the grass, NOT on concrete! If you spray it on a cover that is laying on concrete, it will not work. I found this out the hard way. Let the canvas dry 24 hours between coats.After it is completely dry, you can test it by throwing some water on the cover, if the water beads up, your done.

You can hang the cover up in the garage, warm it up to 80, shut off all flames and pilot lights, and then spray it. The spray is highly flammable.

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tip 10 - Applying Silicon or Paraffin base waterproofing to a cover or top. Waterproofing older covers, worn covers, cotton duck, and canvas tents. The best thing for these is using Silicon or Paraffin based coatings. These are waterproof coatings and will seal the fabric. It is best to add vents to the cover after applying these. Canvak is in the home improvement store, or Aqua-seal at the marine supply. Canvak is a paraffin based waterproofing that can be brushed or sprayed on. Aqua-seal is a silicon based waterproofing that you spray on. You can use a yard sprayer to apply these. Lay the the cover out anyplace. Spray a damp even coat and let it dry 24 hours. Then give it a second coat and let that one dry. Both treatments will make the fabric heavier, and the color darker.

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tip 11 - Tears, holes, and rotted thread should be fixed. The problem will only get worse, and duct tape will not help. You can check the thread very easily. Locate a top seam and try to scratch ONE STITCH with your fingernail, if it breaks, then the thread is rotted. Wash the cover and then have a canvas shop re-stitch and patch the cover.

tip 12 - A cover that has pockets of water on it after it rains will rot and collect dirt in the area where the water lays. (have a tuck put in the cover so the water will run off) I have seen people put life jackets, beach balls, or an extra pole under the cover to make the water run off.

tip 13 - Towing the boat with the mooring cover on can cause damage. If you must use the mooring cover for towing, it must be tied down very tight. If your cover snaps to the boat, adjust the poles up tight and use pliers to tighten the set screw 1/4 turn extra.

tip 14 - A cover that has been folded and stored wet or damp can cause irreversible damage. This rots the thread and causes mildew, which can rot the fabric. Same problem with covers that don't breathe while on the boat, and the condensation can't get out. (vents can be added to solve the problem)

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tip 15 - How to rig the boat with a tarp for winter storage. The whole idea here is to make your mooring cover last an extra 5 to 7 years and save you money in the long run.

Step by Step Instructions to rig the boat with a tarp for winter storage.

* Take the boat cover off, dry it, fold it and stow it.
* Put the Bimini top down before you start.
* Pontoons: Remove the wing-nut for the light-stick and set the light-stick on it's side out of the way.
* Use wood for your poles, and tie them up with 3/16 or smaller rope. Use two half-hitches to tie your knots.


(1" x 1"), or (1/2" x 1") wood from the home improvement store----reuse them every year.
You will need any type of saw to cut the wood to 5 or 5.5 foot [they are 8' when you get them].
any staple gun that has 3/8" or 1/2" staples.
You can use electrical or romex staples and a hammer if you have too.
Use 3/16" or 1/8" braided nylon or poly rope from the home improvement store.
50 foot rope package for 16-21 ft. vee hull --- 100 foot rope package for pontoons and larger boats.
Pontoon Tarp: 14 foot wide and enough length to cover the boat. overlap two tarps for more length.
When two tarps are used, allow a 4 foot overlap.
1 piece of old carpet to pad the top and bottom of the posts.
Some old sheets, blankets or towels to cover tops of seats and sharp objects that will damage or poke holes in the plastic.

* Cut the wood to 5 or 5.5 foot. We want them tall for good run off.
* Position the posts with the front one 18" back from the front railing or gate(pontoon) 18" back from the windshield(vee-Hull), and space the rest of them no more than 5 feet apart.

* Use a staple gun and staple the rope to the tops of the wood poles.
* Tie all the ropes that hold the posts tight and go around and make sure they are very tight.
* Then staple a 4" square piece of old carpet on top of each pole, to protect the plastic.
* You should put a 4" square piece of old carpet under each pole also. Use old towels or old carpet to pad any vinyl and sharp objects [protects the tarp and the seats].
* Then put the plastic on and tie it down tight as you can, to keep the wind from taking it away.
* Make sure the rope or bungee cords that hold the tarp on are very tight.
* When that is done, you may want to finish up with a rope around the bottom to pull the tarp tight to the deck (pontoon) or rub rail (vee hull). The shrink wrappers do it most of the time.
This project will take 60 to 90 minutes to complete, and will add years of life to your cover.

Click the thumbnails for a large photo.


tip 16 - Shrink wrapping can be used over, and over, and over,, and again and again..

If the life span of a shrink wrapping on a boat is 36 months(3years).....
then I know that the wrap will last 6 months of storage(winter), and do that for 6 years(36 months). And it could go longer,, or maybe you get only 5 years..

Do the math,, divide the cost for shrink wrapping by the number of years you get from the wrap,, it's a good deal for the boat owner.

  • When you remove the wrapping,, take your time.
  • Do Not cut the wrapping when removing it.
  • Cut the cord or webbing they used to hold it down.
  • Try to work the wrap off the boat without any cuts,, if you need to make a cut, choose a place that will be easy to tape-up over the next 5 or 6 years.
    On a Pontoon boat, make your cut in the back, close to one of the back corners.
    On a vee hull boat, make your cut in the back, close to one of the back corners.
  • After the wrap is off, measure the height and position of the poles, (map it out for future years,, to put it back on) take a photo.
  • If you can keep the poles with all the cord still attached, makes it easyier next winter....
  • Lay the wraping out on the ground, fold the sides over like a boat cover, roll it up, like a sleeping-bag pushing all the air out as you go, tie a rope around it and store it. It should be dry..
  • PURCHACE 1 roll of 2" shrink tape from, and maybe a small roll of 1/2 " poyester webbing, to use for tieing down the wrap and the poles.
  • Next fall, put the whole thing back on the boat,,,, the exact same way it was when the boat was shrink wraped.
  • Be sure to tie the wrapping down, just so the wind won't take it away.
  • Tape up any cuts and holes with shrink tape. Do Not Use Duck Tape
  • As the old shrink tape goes bad, just pull it off, wipe the old dry glue off and re-tape it. easy
  • If you do it the xact same way it was,,, the shrink wrap will be tight and will work fine for many years.....
  • You see,, 14 bucks a foot is cheap. Over 6 years, that works out to be $2.40 a foot per winter.

tip 17 - Heavy snow on the mooring cover during winter storage is hard on the fabric. All you have to do is go out after it snows and brush or drag the snow off the cover with a broom. Use a garage broom that has the metal supports on the brush. The weight of the snow is what damages the cover. You should not let the snow get to more than 3 inches before cleaning it off. Do not let the snow melt off the cover...the temperature can drop before the snow melts and it will turn to a block of ice.


Brushing Snow Off CoverBrushing Snow Off Cover

Garage broom with metal supports works great for dragging snow off the cover.

Always clean the snow off .
It is easy to do and takes less than 10 minutes.
As a result, your cover will never need any repairs in the spring.


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