Because they often look and feel the same, marine vinyl fabric can be a mystery to everyday buyers with an untrained eye. Vinyl fabric has differentiators from traditional fabric that put it ahead of its competitors, like its UV deterrence, resilience, and safety.
Here are three of the most common questions new buyers ask when buying vinyl fabric.
1. How Will Marine Vinyl Hold Up in The Sun?
If you spend hours wading in the water under the hot summer sun, a primary concern is the impact UV rays have on your boat. To get a better understanding of its impact, complete the Light Fastness Test. This uses a special UV light to replicate the impact of sun, salt water, humidity, and other harsh environments.
The material is observed in a machine over an extended period of time to see how long it takes for the material to break down. Most vinyl brands claim their fabric is UV Resistant, but that doesn’t give you a clear idea of its lifecycle. This test will tell you exactly how long untl it’s completely discolored.
Marine vinyl fabric has specific additives that improve its deterrence from sun damage. However, any product left in direct sunlight over a long period of time will eventually break down, no matter how many additives it has. That’s why it is recommended to store or cover outdoor materials in order to boost the life of your material.
2. Is It Durable?
Marine vinyl is notorious for its durability. Scratches and scuffs can be removed with a damp cloth, but puncturing the material is another threat. Before you buy, check to see if your fabric has undergone the EN388 puncture test. These tests are done to see how much force the material can handle before breaking.
Most fabric companies use the Wyzenbeek or Martindale test. The Wyzenbeek test takes a rod and places a piece of fabric on the end. The rod moves back and forth on the fabric until the fabric tears. The Martindale test method places a rotating disk with standard wool fabric on top of the marine vinyl and keeps track of how many times the fabric circulates it fails.
To understand the durability of the marine vinyl fabric, the specification sheet will list what abrasion tests were completed. Thoroughly inspect this sheet to ensure the fabric’s strength.
3/ Is It Safe?
Even though most marine vinyl is naturally flame resistant, double check the fabric’s specifications first. If you bought the materials from overseas, the needed flame-resistant chemicals may have been neglected. This mishap can make it very dangerous and unstable, causing a faster ignition than fabrics that were made correctly. Tests like UFAC, Cal TB117-2013, and MvSS302 test for cigarette ignition, how quickly it can ignite, and the burn rate.
The next safety requirement to check for is its adherence to “CPSIA”— the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. This test exclusively measures the amount of lead within a given material. For any product that encounters children ages twelve and younger, manufacturers must pass this test.
RoHS is a similar test to CPSIA in that it checks for lead, but it also tests for other hazardous substances that can lead to cancer, birth defects, and prenatal dangers. To ensure safety for you and all your passengers, double check that the marine vinyl fabric you purchased has passed these tests.
There are dozens of fabric companies out there, but it’s important to choose a vinyl company that cares about your well-being and safety. Look no further than All Vinyl Fabrics. Talk to vinyl experts to learn more about our specifications and what is best for your project. Contact us or call (877)518-4695 today to get started.