Long-term Testing Clear Vinyl


Strataglass 40

Our long-term test of clear vinyl and clear-vinyl treatments includes environmental outdoor tests with controls, as well as some real-world testing on one of our test boats.

For the outdoor testing, 8-by-10-inch vinyl test samples of Strataglass 40 mil, Strataglass 30 mil, Regalite 40 mil, Crystal Clear 30 mil, and OSea 40 mil were mounted over cut-outs in painted plywood sheets. One panel of each product was left untreated; one Strataglass panel was covered by a Sunbrella flap and not treated; and the rest were treated with protective sprays and creams.

One set of control panels was kept indoors in a controlled environment. Spray cleaner/protectant products were reapplied every 30 days, and cream/paste products were reapplied every 90 days.

The vinyl materials also are being evaluated, both treated and untreated, for aging effects-including any changes in color, opacity, texture, or stiffness.

Now, two years into the test, we are focusing on rainy weather performance, since this is the primary difference at this time. At the five-year mark, we will dismount all of the samples and perform more rigorous testing.

On-Boat Testing

The test boat has a large clear-vinyl enclosure and large vinyl skylights in the hard top. We applied products that did well at the four-month mark to the windows on the test boat. We used the Imar 302 as a protectant, and the Imar 310 and Star brite View Guard as cleaners.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at darrellnicholson.com.