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How To Install A Bimini Top On An Inflatable Boat?

If you’ve been looking for a way to have some shade on your inflatable boat without breaking the bank, then a Bimini top might be your best option. That way, you can get the shade you want and need without breaking the bank.

If this sounds like a great option for you, here’s what you need to know to get a great one and get it installed ASAP.

How To Install A Bimini Top On An Inflatable Boat
Air up an inflatable boat using a foot pump and an electric pump

What is a Bimini Top for an Inflatable Boat?

Bimini Top Cover for inflatable boats

A Bimini top is an open-air covering for a boat. The covering itself is usually made out of canvas or some type of plastic/PVC. The frame is usually made of metal and can be folded down when you’re not using it.

Most Bimini tops are easy to install and simple to use and you can choose one that will provide shade for your entire boat or just for a portion of it. The manufacturer of your inflatable boat may make Bimini tops for the boat or you can always buy one made by someone else.

Is a Bimini Top the Same as a Canopy?

Sea Eagle Wide Bimini Top for Inflatable Boats
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A Bimini top is one type of canopy that you may want to put on an inflatable boat. Some companies also make tops that look more like the sun shades you would use on the beach.

Other top options for your boat include fully enclosed tent-like structures with clear plastic windows. You zip and unzip these to get into and out of the boat. These are intended for use in inclement weather or when outdoor temperatures are colder.

Note that, while installing these tops may be similar to installing a Bimini top, each will come with its own instructions. Make sure you know how to install the specific top that you’re working with before you tackle the project.

The Benefits of a Bimini Top for Your Inflatable Boat

Bimini Top Cover Canopy for Inflatable Boat
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Many great things come from having a Bimini top installed on your inflatable boat. Here are just a few of the benefits that you stand to reap if you install one soon.

You could have:

  • More comfortable (and more enjoyable!) boating, because you won’t always be exposed to the sun
  • Protection for yourself and your passengers, from sunburn and dehydration
  • Protection for your boat and your gear because it won’t be sitting out in the UV rays and the heat
  • Spend longer out on the water because you’ll be comfortable and have more options
  • Make your boat look better and increase its value

If these are benefits that you would like to have for your boat, read on to find out more.

Considerations When Choosing a Bimini Top for an Inflatable Boat

There are a few things you should consider before you buy a Bimini top for your inflatable boat. When you take all of these into account, you should be able to get the perfect Bimini for your needs.

Fabric

Fabric of Bimini Top
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Make sure that your Bimini is made of marine-grade fabric so it doesn’t fade or crack in the sun. You should also get one in a color that matches your boat.

Length

Length of Bimini Top for Inflatable Boats
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Decide whether you want your top to cover the whole boat or only part of it. Measure that length and buy accordingly.

Bows

Bows are the metal pieces that go through the Bimini top to keep it flat over your head. The longer your top, the more bows you will want. A long top with only a few bows may sag in the middle, so make sure yours has an appropriate and realistic number.

Frame

Stainless Steel Bimini Top Frame
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Get a top with a stainless steel frame if you plan to use it on saltwater. However, these are heavy, so you may want aluminum if you will only be on freshwater. You can also buy treated aluminum for use on both or only on saltwater.

Storage

Make sure you have plenty of space, both on your boat and off it, to store the Bimini top when it’s not in use. They usually fold up very small, so this shouldn’t be a problem for you.

How to Install a Bimini Top on an Inflatable Boat

Bimini Boat Top Covers for Inflatable Boats Installation
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There are several steps that you must take to install a Bimini top on your inflatable boat. Before you start, make sure you have the best adhesive for the type of inflatable boat that you have.

If your boat is made from PVC, this vinyl cement from RH Adhesives  is a great option. If you have Hypalon or a related fabric, you’ll need to get your adhesive straight from the boat’s manufacturer. However, you can always add this adhesive accelerant  to it to make the bond even stronger.

To install your Bimini top, start by determining where on the boat each mounting point will need to go. Mark these clearly.

Your Bimini top should come with deck patches for installation. Trace around the patch in the place where you want it to go on the boat. Some people like to deflate their boats for this step though that is up to your personal preference.

Outline the trace area with masking tape so you don’t get glue all over your boat.

Clean both the boat and the side of the patch that will adhere to it. Use methyl ethyl ketone  for PVC boats and patches and toluene  for Hypalon.

Follow the directions on the glue to adhere the patch to the boat. Note that the specific process will depend on the exact glue you use and different manufacturers will provide different instructions.

Press the patches down firmly and wait 24 hours to make sure the glue is completely dry.

Inflate your boat and attach your Bimini top. Make sure that you have the rear of the top going toward the stern of your boat and its front toward your bow.

If you did not attach your patches correctly, you may need to try again. Note that removing them without damaging the boat can be difficult and you may need professional help at this stage.

If your top goes up well and does not stretch or sag, then you have installed it properly. Now, take your boat out and enjoy it!

How to install a bimini top bracket and D-rings on inflatable boat

Conclusion

If a Bimini top is the right solution for a covering on your inflatable boat, get one as soon as you can. That way, you can install it and get out on the water to enjoy it soon.

Enhance your boating experience when you learn how to install a Bimini top on an inflatable boat today! Then you can enjoy shade wherever you go.


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