[GUIDE] How to choose your aluminum or stainless steel bimini?

[GUIDE] How to choose your aluminum or stainless steel bimini?

The bimini (also called boat cover) is a retractable roof dedicated to boat cockpits. Designed to protect the sailor from the sun and the rain, it consists of a canvas supported by a frame, most often metallic. In this article, we answer the questions that most people have when they buy this type of equipment. How to choose your bimini for his boat? Should you opt for an aluminum or stainless steel bimini? Which boat cover to choose according to the size of my boat? Find out the main criteria you will need to consider in choosing the roof model that best suits your needs.

What are the parameters to take into account to choose the right bimini?

The most important parameters to consider when choosing a bimini are:

  • The type of use: bimini tops are designed for use when anchored or slow sailing. The models which will be used in slow navigation must be more robust than those whose use will be limited to anchorage. Because, the winds collected by the awning of a boat in navigation are stronger.
  • The desired location: the location of a bimini depends on the position of the cockpit on the boat. This parameter is important for determining the center point of the area to be covered.
  • The length of the boat: the larger a boat, the greater the surface to be protected. You will therefore have to take this data into account to be fixed on criteria such as the number of arches or the size of the boat cover (width and length).
  • The type of boat: depending on whether the boat is motor, a sailboat or a small boat.

How to choose your boat cover according to the number of arches?

The hoops are the side bars on which is fixed the bimini top. Like the size of the roof, the number of arches depends on the width of the boat. The larger a boat, the more arches in the boat cover dedicated to it. We distinguish: bimini 2 arches, 3 arches and 4 arches. So here is how to choose your bimini :

  • Boat awning 2 arches: they are dedicated to boats whose width is between 120 cm and 150 cm.
  • Boat awning 3 arches: they are designed for boat widths between 150 cm and 200 cm.
  • Boat awning 4 arches: regulations require that they be used on boats with a width between 200 cm and 240 cm.

Buy an aluminum or stainless steel bimini?

Aluminum bimini

Aluminum biminis are characterized by their lightness. They are strong and particularly resistant to corrosion in the marine environment, UV radiation and humidity. It is for these reasons that their lifespan is so long. In addition, aluminum does not require any special maintenance, as its smooth surface prevents the accumulation of dusty deposits and lubricants.

Stainless steel bimini (inox)

Strength is the main characteristic of stainless steel. More robust than aluminum, it resists friction, shocks and temperature variations. Best of all, it is easy to maintain. Its Achilles heel is its price - much higher than aluminum. Moreover, it is heavier than aluminum.

What material for my boat cover?

Prefer an aluminum boat cover for use at anchor. The only reason to buy a stainless steel bimini is if you want to sail slowly with the bimini open. In this specific case, the robustness of stainless steel will be useful to you.

A guide that explains how to choose your bimini for your boat, whether it is aluminum or stainless steel.

How to choose your boat cover taking into account the size of your boat?

Before choosing a boat cover, check if its dimensions match the characteristics of your boat.

  • The height : the height of a bimini is the size it measures, from the fixings to the tip of the roof. Once the bimini is installed on the sides of your boat, the height under the bimini is the distance between the boat deck and the top end of the roof. So to have the total height under the bimini once installed, you have to add the height of the sides of the boat to the height of the bimini. For example, you buy a 120cm high bimini and the edges of your boat are 90cm high (distance between the deck and where the bimini will be attached), then the total height under the bimini when installed will be 90 + 120 = 210 cm.
  • The length : this value is calculated when the boat cover is fully unfolded. It corresponds to the distance between the hoops located at the two ends of the canvas. If you notice correctly, the female end caps designed to secure the awning to the boat are half that distance.
  • The width : the width of a bimini is substantially equal to the width of the boat on which it is fixed. This means that the width of the bimini is the distance between the two edges of the boat from side to side. Just deduct the centimeters that separate the gunwale from the outside of the boat and you will have your width.

Note: the width of a boat cover can be adjusted by approximately 5%. So an awning width of 150cm will suit boats that have a width between 140cm and 160cm.

Which brands of boat cover should I choose for my boat?

 Carvid Marine: the biminis specialist

Carvid Marine is a company specializing in the development and marketing of awnings for boats. It provides you with a range of high quality bimini tops and accessories available online and in store. All of their products are practical, easy to install and can withstand winds of 40 knots. Besides that, Carvid Marine also offers quality customer service.

Osculati: the notoriety of a major nautical brand

Osculati is a designer and producer of nautical accessories. In business since 1958, the company is today the official distributor for Italy of several major brands of boat equipment. Its boat covers are characterized by their quality and robustness. Present on the French market for several years, this great brand knows how to convince. Try it out and you won't be disappointed!

VidaXL: the ideal brand for small budgets

VidaXL is not a brand of nautical equipment but it has gained a lot of market share in the biminis segment! Indeed, this company relies on these low prices without compromising on sustainability. It succeeds in combining quality and competitive price thanks in particular to its purchasing strategy. The company negotiates directly with the manufacturers of boat covers already in activity and buys en masse. VidaXL is perfect for small budgets.

Conclusion: which brands of bimini to choose?

If you need to buy a aluminum bimini, then we recommend the biminis from Carvid Marine. The company specializes in this segment and you can contact them very easily if there is any problem. On the other hand, if you are looking for a stainless steel bimini, then we recommend the robustness of the Osculati biminis. Finally, if your budget is tight, you should turn to VidaXL. Their cheap boat covers will satisfy you with their good quality.

Choose the best aluminum or stainless steel bimini for your boat

Now that you know:

  • which material to choose (aluminum or stainless steel),
  • how many hoops to take (2, 3 or 4),
  • what dimensions to ask,
  • and which brand to favor,

we have put together all of the best boat awnings on the market for you.

NB: the dimensions of the boat covers are always given in this order:

Depth x Width x Height in cm.

The best aluminum biminis

The best aluminum biminis from VidaXL

2 arches150x120x110cm150x120x110cm150x120x110cm
2 arches 150x130x110cm 150x130x110cm 150x130x110cm
2 arches 150x150x110cm 150x150x110cm 150x150x110cm
3 arches 183x140x137cm 183x140x137cm
3 arches 183x160x137cm 183x160x137cm 183x160x137cm
3 arches 183x180x137cm
3 arches183x196x137cm183x196x137cm
4 arches 243x180x137cm 243x180x137cm 243x180x137cm
4 arches 243x196x137cm 243x196x137cm 243x196x137cm
4 arches 243x210x137cm 243x210x137cm 243x210x137cm
4 arches 243x (230-244)x137cm 243x (230-244)x137cm 243x (230-244)x137cm
The best aluminum biminis from VidaXL

Osculati's best aluminum biminis

Biminis with 2 arches Biminis with 3 arches Biminis with 4 arches
180x (130-140) x110 cm180x (140-150) x115 cm250x (190-200) x145 cm
180x (170-180) x110 cm180x (160-170) x115 cm250x (210-220) x145 cm
180x (175-185) x115 cm250x (225-235) x145 cm
180x (200-210) x115 cm
180x (210-220) x115 cm
Osculati's best aluminum biminis

The best aluminum biminis from Carvid Marine

The best stainless steel biminis

3 arches 180x (160-170) x145 cm 180x (160-170) x145 cm
3 arches 180x (175-185) x145 cm 180x (175-185) x145 cm
3 arches 180x (190-200) x145 cm 180x (190-200) x145 cm
3 arches 180x (210-220) x145 cm 180x (210-220) x145 cm
3 arches 180x (225-235) x145 cm 180x (225-235) x145 cm
The best stainless steel biminis

The best non-standard size biminis

There are biminis for all types of boats: very small, very long, biminis just for the cockpit and even boat awnings suitable for Roll-Bars.

See the biminis for small boats:

See the telescopic boat awnings for Roll-Bar:

See the 'T-Top' biminis to protect the cockpit:

See boat cover extensions for very long boats:

What additional boat cover equipment can I consider?

Now that we know how to choose your bimini, you can select one or two devices to complete it:

  • The pair of struts : this equipment is essential to securely maintain the bimini when sailing. Not only does it support the rear of the bimini, but also, it allows it to be folded up without having to dismantle it.
  • The cane holder : the rod holder is a mounting bracket designed to accommodate the rods of fishing rods.
  • Biminis straps : we recommend to equip you with bimini straps if they are not included in your kit. Indeed, they secure your sun awning against the wind and gusts.
  • Anti-vibration clips for boat awnings: they will prevent you from constantly hearing the same click between the arches as soon as the wind picks up or during navigation.
  • The bimini storage cover: this accessory is essential if you want your equipment to last over time.
  • The solar panels : there are models of lightweight solar panels, designed to be installed on boat awnings.
  • Bimini suction cups for inflatable and semi-rigid boats: if your boat does not have edges to fix the binding patinas, then you need special bimini suction cups. You can buy suction cups from the brand of your boat cover or from another brand:

View Osculati Bimini Suction Cups

See Carvid Marine bimini suction cups

View VidaXL Bimini Suction Cups

How to clean and maintain your aluminum or stainless steel bimini?

After choosing the right sun awning for your boat, the frequently asked question is: how to maintain it? Essential, cleaning increases the life of your awning or bimini by removing dirt at regular intervals. For this, you must use a special sun awning cleaner.

Especially avoid using a washing machine or pressure washer to clean it. Also, wait until the boat cover is dry before folding or storing it.

Finally, at the start of each season, it is recommended to waterproof your biminis. For this, you must use a quality waterproofing product that will not damage the canvas.

Find out more about boat covers, biminis and roofs:

The best inexpensive sun awnings and biminis for boats

[Tutorial] How to make a bimini for your boat?

[Tutorial] How to waterproof a boat cover?

How to clean a bimini, awning or roof?

TUTORIAL: Repairing a roof on a boat