Preparing Your Tops, Covers, And Boat Seating In The Off Season

Winter is officially here, which means spring is just around the corner. Before you know it, it will be warm enough to take your boat out again! Before boating season hits, use this time to make sure there are no unwelcome surprises that will delay you getting back on the water. Chris Ruhlander, owner of Argo Custom Canvas & Upholstery in Mokena, Illinois, recently shared some tips with us to help you prepare your boat’s fabrics in the off season.


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Our #1 tip? Be proactive!


Be Proactive

In terms of marine upholstery, “There really isn’t much you have to do for maintenance in the off season,” advises Ruhlander. “Just make sure it’s clean and that you use a high-quality cleaner with a UV protectant.” He advises boaters to give boat seating, tops, and covers a once-over while cleaning: “See if a thread is failing or if your vinyl is getting hard; maybe it’s not as flexible as it used to be. That’s when you might want to start thinking about budgeting to get some work done.” The same goes for tears or holes: “If you leave them exposed and the foam goes bad or gets dug out, it can get pretty expensive.” Instead of “out of sight, out of mind,” Ruhlander urges boaters to be proactive. Check your boat seating, tops, and covers before storing for the winter months. Small repairs can be a lot more simple and less expensive. 

Book in Advance

When boating season is underway, fabricators and repair shops are often slammed with last-minute requests, so be proactive when scheduling your appointments with your local boat shop or fabricator. Bonus: when you get this done during the off season, you’ll be all set to hit the water as soon as weather permits.  


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Get your boat in shape for spring and summer by taking good care of it in the off season.


Care and Cleaning

While you may be primarily concerned about repair appointments, don’t forget about cleaning your boat seating, tops and covers. Ruhlander advises having your boat cleaned before service appointments; otherwise, it could cause serious damage to your fabricator’s sewing machines. Sunbrella Horizon is UV protective and resistant to water, stains, mold, and mildew, but undergoing cleaning services will keep your seating, tops, and covers extra fresh season after season.


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Use high-quality products (like Sunbrella Horizon) for longevity and durability.


Use Quality Products

“Sunbrella is the standard for marine canvas,” said Ruhlander. “I always like the hand and the way it works, and the 10-year warranty is a good selling point for my customers.” Ruhlander has seen boats with Sunbrella fabric that date back 20 years and are still in good shape, thanks to thoughtful maintenance. Ruhlander is especially fond of our newest Sunbrella marine vinyl offering, Horizon. “The four-way stretch material sits really nice and I appreciate the availability of colors,” said Ruhlander. When customers visit Argo Custom Canvas & Upholstery, Ruhlander lets them feel the difference between the products he carries in store. “Horizon is very close to a leather,” he said. “It has a soft texture, but it holds up.” He also praised Horizon’s longevity, saying, “You don’t have to worry about it drying out and cracking on you. It’s pretty much become my exclusive.”  

When it comes to extending the lifetime of your marine fabrics, it’s all about choosing the right products and taking good care of them by being proactive about maintenance. Learn more about caring for your Horizon marine vinyl


Chris Ruhlander owns Argo Custom Canvas & Upholstery, where he is helped by his 18-, 13- and 8-year-old sons, and Marley, the family’s Australian cattle dog who serves as the store’s beloved mascot. Ruhlander does higher-end, custom work, as well as some repairs. He opened Argo in 2014 and will soon be opening another location in Stuart, Florida. If you’re in the Mokena area, be sure to reach out to Argo Custom Canvas & Upholstery at (630) 667-8173 for your Horizon needs. 

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