A Guide to Marine Vinyl

If you’re looking for a durable, easy clean, weather-proof fabric, then you might want to consider vinyl. Vinyl fabric comes in a variety of textures, types and colours. For this reason vinyl fabrics are often classified into different grades depending on the intended use. It is through this fabric guide, were going to take a closer look and this ultra strong synthetic fabric and the history it entails.

The History of Vinyl

First off, what is vinyl? Essentially man-made, vinyl is made up of ethylene (a chemical compound) and chlorine (a chemical element) processed together. PVC is one of the oldest synthetic materials with the longest history in industrial production.

It all started in 1872 when a German chemist, Eugen Baumann created Polyvinyl chloride (a chemical gas). Baumann made the mistake of never patenting his discovery and another German, Friedrich Klatte devised a new method for the polymerization of Polyvinyl chloride where he used sunlight to heat the gas. However it wasn’t until the 1920s, a man by the name of Dr Waldo Semon, a scientist working for BF Goodrich was trying to create an adhesive that would bond rubber and metal. Semon experimented with discarded materials, mixing chemicals together while applying heat. His experiments again produced polyvinyl chloride. This led to the development of Polyvinyl chloride, also know as PVC or Vinyl.

During World War II when rubber was scarce, vinyl was first used in shock absorber seals where it grew in popularity. PVC quickly replaced traditional material to insulate wiring on military ships. It was also used to create golf balls and shoe heals. Developers quickly found further, innovative uses through the decade and refined methods to enhance durability, opening the door to applications in the building trades. Today, about 60% of vinyl produced is used by the construction industry, but it’s also used for packaging, transportation and textiles.

Marine Vinyl

What separates marine vinyl from standard vinyl is the additional UV protection and its high level of mildew and rot resistance. Marine grade vinyl has been specifically designed and developed to withstand the weather conditions that come with life on a boat. Today, marine vinyl has become an ideal material in commercial upholstery. Its strength, resilience and durability make for a very practical and cost-effective choice for upholstering furniture and accessories that receive daily wear-and-tear in business settings and communal areas used by the public.

As well as being a great alternative to leather, marine vinyl can be used across a variety of applications including indoor and outdoor upholstery, medical upholstery, hospitality & resorts applications, gym equipment, transport seating, bags and wallets. Marine vinyl has the rich look and feel of genuine leather with all the advantages of a heavy-duty commercial vinyl.

Advantages of Marine Vinyl

Marine Vinyl is UV stabilised, flame retardant, anti bacterial, anti microbial and tear resistant. Anti-mildew formulations are added as well as colourfast pigments to keep the material lasting in the sun.

Disadvantages of Marine Vinyl

Another drawback to vinyl is that some vinyl has a plastic-like feel and doesn’t breathe well, making it sticky and hot to sit on. This can be avoided by spending a bit more for a nicer quality vinyl and also by selecting the right vinyl product for the right application. Look for a vinyl that’s recommended for seating if that’s the desired use.

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