Ask the Expert: How Do I Choose a Bimini Top?

May 7, 2019

Bimini tops made with Sunbrella marine fabrics set the standard for durable, high-quality marine coverings. Enjoy more time on the water, where you belong, without worrying about sun or rain. Proper covering can not only enhance your fun but protect the condition of your boat as well, especially in the harsh Utah sunshine. To help… Read More

Bimini tops made with Sunbrella marine fabrics set the standard for durable, high-quality marine coverings. Enjoy more time on the water, where you belong, without worrying about sun or rain. Proper covering can not only enhance your fun but protect the condition of your boat as well, especially in the harsh Utah sunshine. To help make your shopping experience easier, we’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about bimini tops below.

What’s the fabric made of? Does the fabric have UV inhibitors so it doesn’t fade and special finishes so it doesn’t grow mold or deteriorate over time? 

 With a 10-year warranty against fading, Sunbrella fabrics hold their vibrant color even with constant exposure to the sun, salt, and chlorine of harsh marine environments. All Sunbrella fabrics are mold- and mildew-resistant. If exposure to dirt, debris, and the elements does lead to mildew or mold, Sunbrella marine canvas is quickly and easily cleaned with a simple bleach solution without losing color. And unlike some marine fabrics that trap heat in, Sunbrella fabrics allow air to pass through, creating a comfortable boating experience for all aboard.

Are there any issues that can come up when using aluminum tubing with stainless steel fittings?

 When combining these two metals, you can run into what’s called a galvanic reaction. This is where the combination can cause corrosion of the aluminum. Although this can sometimes be an issue, in desert-like conditions with low humidity and freshwater lakes like Utah, it is not very common. Any time you are building a bimini for ocean use, or for use on the Great Salt Lake in the case of Utah boat owners, be sure to use only all stainless fittings, tubing, and rivets to prevent corrosion from happening.

Is the bimini top frame made of aluminum or stainless steel? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both stainless and aluminum tubing?

 For most small runabouts, an aluminum frame is sufficient to supply the strength and durability needed for a bimini top. The other advantage of aluminum is that it weighs less than stainless, which can cause less wear on the boat and on the mounting locations in the fiberglass long term. The plus of stainless steel tubing is that it is very durable. It also has a nice polished finish, unlike aluminum. Stainless tubing is typically seen on higher-end boats of any size and all cruisers. Another big advantage of a stainless steel frame, besides strength, is its malleability. This flexibility allows the frames to bend but not break. It can also be bent back into shape. Although it can be a pricey upgrade, stainless steel could prevent customers from having to replace the whole framework if something unfortunate were to happen.

Is the hardware made of nylon or stainless steel?

 There are multiple options for bimini hardware. We find that nylon fittings give a flexible and durable fitting that gives you years of use at an entry-level price point. The stainless steel fittings not only are very durable but they are available in a variety of different options to fit your style of mount. The stainless mounts look great as well. Some boat shops do offer a fitting made of diecast zinc alloy, called Zamac. These can look nice, but they tend to break fairly easily if put on a bind. We ourselves don’t offer them, because we don’t believe there are enough advantages to justify the price.

What does the hardware include?

 All the connecting pieces between the ends of bimini bows are referred to as the hardware. Most of our standard bimini tops include 6 eye ends and 4 jawslides. Some customers opt for upgrades such as support bars, which add an additional 4 eye ends and 2 jawslides.

What are the connector pieces made from? 

 Most marine connecting pieces on the market are made in either nylon, Zamac (a cheaper metal that is more brittle and less durable), or stainless steel.

What speeds are bimini tops rated up to?

  Industry standard is that bimini tops should not be used at speeds faster than 35 mph while deployed on and off the lake. Thirty-five mph covers most speeds used during watersports, such as wakeboarding, waterskiing, knee boarding, or wake surfing. For any type of freeway travel, tops should always be wrapped up and stowed in the storage area, especially for long trips.

What optional features are available? 

 Bimini tops can be made to custom fit any boat. Customers buying a custom bimini top have the option of choosing the length (up to 8’ long) and the height (most commonly between 5’9” and 6’4”.) Optional surfboard pockets are a popular add-on among our customers.

Is the bimini American made? 

 YES! We are proud to manufacture all of our bimini tops in our Midvale, Utah, facility.

What’s the warranty on a bimini?

Our bimini frames come with a 2-Year Workmanship Warranty. The canvas component of the bimini top comes with a 10-Year Material and Workmanship Warranty.

How soon will the bimini be ready? 

 Custom biminis can take as few as four days and as many as seven, depending on the time of year and current backlog of orders. We will do our best to always deliver before the deadline, but be sure to give yourself at least a week before you plan on using the bimini top.

Why not just buy a bimini top online?

Although the price might look enticing online, you do get exactly what you paid for. Tops purchased online are likely mass produced and require assembly. The framework will most likely splice together in several spots across the top and, once assembled, will be very flimsy. Mass-produced frames also usually have a mounting width and top width designed to fit a large range of measurements. Chances are, once the top is installed on your boat, it will look out of place with a bad fit. It may be too tall or not tall enough for what you desire. Our custom-made tops are designed for your boat with a specific mounting location decided before the top is ever made. Our frames are bent in house and constructed out of one continuous piece of tubing, giving it extra strength and durability. The assembly and installation will be done by one of our trusted professionals, and our custom tops are usually finished before your online purchase has even arrived.

Our custom-built bimini tops are made of the highest-quality materials, right here in the USA. When you shop with SugarHouse Industries, you not only get a custom fit that lasts longer but every frame we sell is backed by a warranty. Take care of your boat with attention to detail now, and you’ll be sailing worry free for years. Contact our marine top experts today!


SugarHouse Industries is the largest provider of custom awnings, boat tops and specialty canvas covers in the Intermountain West. Established in 1941, our family-owned business remains committed to putting a personal touch into everything we do. That is why we custom-make every product we offer to fit the unique needs of our clients. Read our Google Reviews to see why our customers have been choosing SugarHouse for the past 75 years.