Marine Upholstery: Trends That Are Here To Stay
Configuring your boat is an exciting time, but it’s often a confusing one. You might want fabrics that look appealing, last a long time and are easy to clean. It’s not easy to satisfy all these demands in the challenging marine environment, but innovation in the marine fabrics industry has put products on the market that can meet your needs.
Canvas: The Original Marine Fabric
The history of marine fabrics begins with canvas. Canvas is a heavy fabric that is closely woven, giving it a wide variety of uses.
The word “canvas” comes from the Arabic word for cannabis, which is Latin for “hemp”.
Canvas has an extremely simple weave, involving one thread going over and then under the other. This produces a very durable and often water-resistant fabric.
Hemp is the oldest fabric-yielding plant in the world. As far back as 3000 B.C., the Chinese were making cloth out of hemp. Records show that in 1500 B.C. India cotton was being weaved into fabrics. The Saracens and Moors from North Africa brought cotton to Europe. Cotton canvas was made into ship sails in Barcelona and Venice, and the practice soon spread throughout Europe.
The Introduction Of Synthetics- 19th Century
Scientists first created synthetic fibers in the 19th century. Synthetic fibers are fabricated from synthesized polymers or small molecules as opposed to natural or organic fibers which come from plants such as cotton or insect silk. The first widely available synthetic fiber-Nylon was developed by DuPont and Wallace Carothers in the 1930s as a replacement for silk. Since then, four synthetic fibers have come to dominate the market:
Acrylic and polyester are the most popular synthetic fibers used in the production of yacht fabric. They tend to be significantly more durable than natural fibers.
They can also offer stretching, waterproofing, stain-resistance and — when treated properly — UV and UVB resistance. Boat fabrics made with synthetic fibers are constantly being improved, ensuring today’s fabrics perform better in harsh marine conditions than their predecessors.
Innovations-Boat Fabric Trends Inside
The acrylic fabrics used most often in today’s marine applications are called “solution dyed acrylics”. This refers to their manufacturing process.
The fabric does not begin as a colorless or neutrally colored fabric, only to be dyed whatever color the manufacturer chooses, such as cotton.
The solution from which the acrylic fibers are made is green, so the fabric is green from its inception.
Coated materials —
usually vinyl coated polyester or vinyl
and polyester composites —
are also very popular.
These polyesters are typically woven in their standard color and then the desired color is applied using a coating substance.
Because they have a top coat, these composites tend to be less breathable than acrylics but offer superior performance in other areas.