Are you covered – Fishing Boat Canvas

Are you covered? What you need to know about boat canvas…

There is no product that is more instrumental to the immediate and long-term appearance and life of your boat than canvas. These days you can’t even buy a pontoon or a deck boat without some canvas that comes standard. And, if you are remodeling, one of the best things you can do to enhance the appearance of your boat is to add canvas.

But, of all the material on boat canvas is probably one of the most
misunderstood and often most often neglected. The prevailing thought tends to be that canvas is there to protect and therefore, by some reason of logic, doesn’t need to be protected or taken care of itself.

Countless are the marinas where canvas boat covers can be found severely beaten, ripped, faded, leaking, downright ugly or ineffective in what they are meant to do. Like any product, canvas has its lifespan. Despite the inherent problems, you can prolong the life of your canvas and make it look good in the process. Just keep it clean and protect it well. You will be surprised what the canvas can do for you in return.

Before you start cleaning your canvas, you should first examine for broken or chaffed stitching and seams. Do the drip test by pouring a cup of water onto the indent in the canvas. If it instantly leaks through (some acrylics are only water-repellant and eventually leak), apply a quality water repellant. Replace when canvas tears (natural fibers) or becomes very soft and pliable (acrylics).

Keep it Clean:

Cleaning a boat’s canvas is, in some ways, more important than cleaning its hull and brightwork. Canvas is more prone to water and moss damage. And, those bird droppings that discolor it are more than just unsightly. They can add to the deterioration. So wash it!

Soap, water, and vinegar should do the job. While washing continue to check for worn spots. Let it dry a few days and then spray it with water repellant. The repellant goes on best in warm weather.

Never put your canvas in the washing machine, as it will probably shrink. The whole idea of the cover is to protect the boat from getting dirty, so if the cover itself is mucky, then it is doing a good job.

Just store it:

Unless you have an indoor storage facility to keep your pontoon or deck boat in a while, not in use, the elements of Mother Nature are just waiting to wreak havoc on your precious craft.

Even covered slips, as lovely as they are, don’t eliminate all the destructive elements. A boat cover is your best means of protection.

Believe it or not, the sun is enemy number one, UV rays are very destructive over time. They will fade and stiffen your vinyl and fade your carpet. Mold and Mildews are also damaging.

But, just throwing a canvas cover on your boat won’t necessarily do. You have got to “install” it correctly. The worst thing you can do is not prop it up in the middle, thus allowing a place for ice and water to pool. Eventually, the weight of the moisture will stretch to the bottom, breaking boat parts and maybe even ripping the canvas in the process.

Leaving your canvas cover improperly secured to the boat is a big no-no as well. Even a little loose area where wind can get under may turn into a massive rip over the course of several months.

Many boat covers come with eyelets and rope. If yours doesn’t, you may want to run some rope over the top of the canvas tying it onto the trailer or boat railing as you zigzag up and down, back and forth, crossing over every square yard of the cover.

Be aware also that sharp corners on your boat such as windshields can spell doom for your cover. Some cover manufacturers like Taylor Made will build reinforcements where your sharp edges are. If you are getting a custom made cover, be sure to have extra material or padding added in at the right spots.

If you are storing your boat in an RV lot, a good thing to do is request a slot in between two large camping trailers or motor homes. These big objects can provide your smaller boat with some sun and wind protection. Just be mindful of storing it near a building because you may find that accumulated snow cause damage to your craft during the winter. Even water that runs off the roof during a rainstorm can be very hard on your cover and your boat.

Trees aren’t all that great either. Though they will provide great shade and be a decent windbreak, they will tend to sap all over your boat and cover, some worse than others. The result you’re left with is a sticky mess.


Do not neglect your canvas. If treated properly and protected, you can keep it looking new for many years to come. Its main purpose is to protect your boat, but there is no reason why it has to look worn, beaten, ripped, or faded. Through proper maintenance and following these tips you can be the envy at your dock.