Comparing Sunbrella® & Top Gun® Marine Fabrics

SKU: X-HT-300202



When looking for the best marine textile for your specific needs, the plethora of brands and fabric collections can be daunting. There are so many choices that selecting your fabric can be the hardest part of planning your project. No need to panic! In this blog, we’ll compare Sunbrella® marine fabrics and Top Gun® fabrics to give you the information you need in order to make the right decision when it comes to fabric selection.

Marlen Textiles’ Top Gun fabric collection is ideal for protective covers, trailering covers, biminis and dodgers. Top Gun 1S is well suited for biminis, T-tops, and pontoon, mooring and short-range travel covers. Sunbrella Marine Grade, by Glen Raven, is recommended for awnings, dodgers, biminis, boat and sail covers, other outdoor covers, and even outdoor patio furniture, pillows and cushions.

Sunbrella fabrics are all 100% solution-dyed acrylic, which means the color is dyed to the core of the fibers, resulting in a fade-resistant fabric that won’t wash out or get bleached by the sun. Sunbrella fabrics are also mildew, mold and stain resistant. Sunbrella’s fabric collections have varying levels of water resistance: Marine Grade is water resistant and reversible, meaning both sides of the fabric can be exposed to the outside. Marine Grade has a very high breathability rating.

Top Gun and Top Gun 1S are acrylic-coated 100% woven polyester fabrics and are known for their UV performance, water repellency and mildew resistance. The original Top Gun collection features a coating on both sides, which makes it a reversible fabric and ideal for applications where both sides of the fabric will be seen. Top Gun 1S has no pigmentation on one side, making it nonreversible and a great choice if you’re concerned about color rub-off or color transferring to your RV or boat. While Top Gun fabrics have very high water resistance, the coating on the fabric means it’s not a very breathable fabric.

Both Top Gun and Sunbrella fabrics are known for their durability and long lifespan. Top Gun fabrics are known for their strength and durability. In fact, Marlen Textiles boasts a five- to 10-year life expectancy for its fabric lines. Top Gun will not noticeably shrink or stretch and is also tear and abrasion resistant. The special acrylic coating found on both Top Gun fabric collections means the fabric will not crack or peel, even in extreme heat and subzero temperatures. Sunbrella fabrics are also stretch and shrink proof, and their tear and break strength are very high, although not as highly rated as Top Gun. Top Gun has a higher abrasion resistance rating than Sunbrella. Sunbrella fabrics are not only durable with a long lifespan, they’re also easy to sew, making them both high quality and user-friendly.

Both Top Gun and Sunbrella Marine Grade are reasonably priced, but Top Gun and Top Gun 1S are the more economical choices. They have a slightly lower retail value than Marine Grade.

Due to Sunbrella’s exceptional color quality and the fact that the color saturates to the core of fibers, Sunbrella fabrics can be cleaned with a bleach and water solution, and even a bleach and soap solution, without the risk of the vibrancy and richness of the colors fading or discoloring. Sunbrella fabrics are treated with a fluorocarbon finish, which enhances water repellency, so after cleaning them it is important to re-treat the fabric with 303® Fabric Guard in order to protect its water-resistant qualities and keep it looking and functioning at its best.

Top Gun fabrics can also be cleaned in a mild bleach and soap solution; detergents should never be used. Fabrics should be cleaned periodically in order to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Cleaning your Top Gun fabrics may reduce the water resistance of the fabric. Therefore, after cleaning and thoroughly drying the fabric, treat it with Aqua-Tite® Green to keep your Top Gun fabric looking its best and brightest.

Both Sunbrella and Top Gun fabrics offer generous warranties. Marlen Textiles are so confident that their fabrics will have a five- to 10-year life expectancy, that they offer a five-year limited warranty. This limited warranty covers the replacement or reimbursement of your Top Gun fabric if it should experience excessive loss of color or strength or other damage under normal conditions; it does not cover consequential or incidental damage. Sunbrella offers a 10-year limited warranty for Marine Grade—the best warranty in the textile industry. Sunbrella’s 10-year warranty covers normal usage of Sunbrella fabrics, including damage or discoloration due to sunlight, mildew and atmospheric chemicals.

Both Sunbrella and Top Gun are great choices for your marine shading applications. Sunbrella Marine Grade is recommended for the widest variety of home and marine applications, while Top Gun is exclusive to non-enclosed boating applications or for fully enclosed and vented items like boat covers. However, Top Gun beats Sunbrella on price and abrasion resistance, while Sunbrella is the best in breathability and colorfastness. Both fabric lines are from leaders in the textile industry and offer top-of-the-line fabric collections. For more information and a thorough star rating of all Sailrite’s marine fabrics, please check out our “Outdoor Fabric Selection Guide" (300080XHT).