Grommet vs. Eyelet: What's the Difference?
If you’re building a sail, tarp, boat awning or flag, you’ll probably find yourself in need of grommets or eyelets. Both are used to strengthen holes in the fabric, so what’s the difference? This is a common question, and we’re going to take a look at what sets these two useful pieces of hardware apart.
A grommet is a two-part piece of hardware that is pressed together through a pre-punched hole in a piece of fabric. A quality grommet is normally made from brass or stainless steel. These malleable metals will flare and roll when the grommet is installed to lock the two parts together, sealing the fabric in between. Grommets install quickly and easily but do require the use of a special setting die. For an extra-strong hold, choose the spur grommet. This grommet has small teeth or “spurs” that bite into the fabric to keep the grommet from spinning and coming loose over time.
Eyelets can be confusing because sometimes very small regular grommets are referred to as eyelets, like the holes your shoelaces go through. However, in the marine industry and beyond, generally an eyelet refers to a more specific style of hardware. An eyelet is one piece of a more traditional and time-consuming method of hole reinforcement. Eyelets are used in conjunction with brass rings. First, a brass ring must be hand-sewn over a pre-punched hole in the fabric with waxed twine. Then the eyelet, which is made of a soft brass, is pressed into the center of the ring and locked in place using a setting die. The eyelet protects the twine, which is the strength of the assembly.
Eyelets and grommets each have uses where they are best suited. In general, use a plain grommet for small projects like flags, awnings, or curtains. If you need to install a large number of grommets and each will have a relatively low load, go for the spur grommets. For higher loads or at the corners of large canvas pieces or sails, use an eyelet grommet.
Now you can select grommets and eyelets for all your projects like a pro! Are you working on any new projects? Something with grommets? Tell us about it in the comments!